Below is the text of Mr Major’s doorstep statement in London following a meeting with Romano Prodi, the Italian Prime Minister, on 13th June 1996.
Good Morning. Let me just say a very few words about our discussions this morning. I was very pleased to welcome the Prime Minister here this morning, to congratulate him upon his recent election win and the formation of his government, and to thank him for the constructive role the Italian Presidency have been taking over recent weeks over the difficult problem of resolving the crisis over beef. The Presidency have been extremely helpful and we have had a very useful discussion about that this morning.
Our discussions centred really in three areas: bilateral relations, which are excellent; the agenda for the European Union meeting at Florence in a few days time that I much look forward to attending; and how to resolve the present difficulties over beef. On each of those areas we had extremely constructive and worthwhile discussions and I am very encouraged by them. The Prime Minister may want to say a word or two and then we will take just a very few questions.
I think that you have already given the clear picture of what we have told in our discussions. I want only to add that the discussion has been very constructive, deep, without of course conclusion because this is a process of discussion, but I think it has been very helpful for preparing the Foreign Ministers meeting of next Monday and the Florence Conference at the end of next week.
QUESTION (Robin Oakley, BBC):
Can I ask you both what prospect you now see of a settlement in the beef crisis before the opening of the Florence settlement, and whether that peace can be achieved without the agreement for Britain to kill another 20,000 cows?
I can talk in terms of probabilities, I tell you that this morning we have pointed the questions in a very clear and precise way, you know you approach the moment in which you see not, you don’ t see the solution done but you see which can be the solution. And so I think we have made good progress.
We are making progress but we are not there yet.
Does the information coining out today that Britain continued to export, or double its exports of contaminated foodstuffs to the rest of Europe after the ban in this country, does that complicate getting a settlement before Florence?
No problems at all with that and we have had no difficult discussions about that whatever this morning.
Do you think that the firm action which was taken against Bill Cash and the Referendum Party yesterday will send a useful signal to Europe in this context?
That was an internal question and it was dealt with internally.
QUESTION (John Sergeant):
Mr Prodi, what would you hope to achieve at Florence apart from this question of beef? What were you hoping to do there?
We shall tackle the institutional programme. But we shall give the agenda for the intergovernmental conference and we shall not take a decision, because you know that is a project that is starting now and the directional work will be changing the institutional framework the programme of internal policy and foreign policy and the science. And in Florence we shall tackle deep the problem of unemployment and the different strategies to tackle unemployment in Europe.