Letter: EU fight for jobs

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Sir: Anne McElvoy complains of the disinformation and propaganda surrounding the European debate in this country (Comment, 2 December). But she adds her own helping of disinformation by suggesting that Britain could somehow be deprived against its will of its existing veto on European tax legislation.

Any such change could only come about as a result of a modification to the European treaties, which can only be changed by unanimous agreement. Britain will not agree to such a modification in any foreseeable future; nor would Britain be alone in adopting such a negative attitude. It is a wilful misrepresentation of the way the European Union works to suggest that Britain's fiscal veto is today genuinely at risk.

Nor is the role of the European Central Bank compromised by the election of a left-wing government in Germany. "Hatchet-faced central bankers" will continue to run the bank under the statutes laid out in the Maastricht treaty. These statutes, which deliberately give an unusual amount of independence to the Central Bank, can only be changed by unanimity, an extraordinarily unlikely prospect.

Reasonable commentators may disagree as to if and when Britain should join the euro. Nobody should be in any doubt, however, that the current polemic about tax harmonisation is a massive red herring conjured up by those who fear that the argument is slipping away from them after the strikingly successful launch of EMU earlier this year.


(Sussex South and Crawley, C)

Haywards Heath, West Sussex