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1994 - Mr Major’s Comments on the European Union

Below is the text of Mr Major’s comments on the European Union, made during an interview given in Essen on Saturday 10th December 1994.


QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if the decisions on the substantive issues of the European Union had been delayed].

PRIME MINISTER:

No, I don’t think so at all. What is the biggest European issue of all? The biggest European issue is whether we can continue to sustain the recovery and get people back to work and that increasingly has happened.

What is very noticeable in the debate that takes place on European matters now as far as economic matters are concerned is that it is a debate increasingly discussed on British terms. The sort of agenda we have set out over recent years is becoming an agenda accepted widely across Europe. That most certainly was not the case when I first started coming here four years ago - it is the case now.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if other EU countries were prepared to move sedately towards joining the single currency].

PRIME MINISTER:

I don’t think they expect to move sedately towards it and if it isn’t discussed because it is generally accepted I am bound to say that hasn’t been the case in previous years as you know; it has been the substance of speech after speech, comment after comment. It frankly isn’t now; it has hardly been mentioned on this occasion; it has not been on the agenda and I think most people now accept - all of them will accept in private - that the time-scale they set out in Maastricht is a time-scale that is not going to be met. That is no surprise to me, it is no surprise to Britain; we have said that continually from the outset.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if there should be a working assumption that there would be a single currency by the end of the century as Leon Brittan had suggested].

PRIME MINISTER:

I think most people who have any administrative responsibility like to have a working assumption. I think there is a distinction between a working assumption and whether that assumption becomes reality.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if should offer a referendum on the single currency, as the Euro-sceptics would want].

PRIME MINISTER:

It isn’t a question of what the Euro-sceptics want, it is really a question of what is the right decision to take about how to deal with a decision of that magnitude. It is some way away. I have made it expressly clear that I have not ruled out the prospect of a referendum but there are many constitutional implications for that, one needs to think about it; it is a long way away. We don’t know what the circumstances will be. There is a whole range of things to be considered before one decided whether or not it was appropriate to have a referendum. There is no need to rush that fence; it isn’t imminent. We have both agreed that this has gone back in time, hasn’t come forward in time, so of course that option is there and of course that option must be considered, I haven’t ruled it out.