Letter: Europe: in or out

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Frederick Forsyth (letter, 1 December) pinpoints the central issue of the debate about our membership of the European Union. The EU is of course committed to "ever closer union" and always has been since the Treaty of Rome in 1957. Co-operation in fields such as trade , justice, freedom of movement, environmental protection and the single currency are simply steps in that process of integration.

He is absolutely right that joining the single currency is the crux of the debate about our future world role and that there should be no more delay in declaring our position. However, it is dangerous to suggest that if we do not embrace the single currency within a reasonable period, say four years at the most, the member states in the euro will allow us to remain indefinitely as a semi-detached member of the Union. Nor will they be particularly keen to allow us to negotiate a "sovereignty-based trading relationship". When we have shown such lack of solidarity, why should they?

I agree that indecisiveness is sapping our national will and the Government ought to declare its hand soon, but we must face up to political reality. The majority of the EU will not tolerate our continued membership if we adopt a policy of refusing ever to join the EMU. We would in the end have to leave the EU and the impact on sterling, inward investment and our standing in the world would be calamitous. Life on our own on the outside will one of comparative instability, dwindling national significance and economic decline.

Let us show the national courage that has been displayed by the Republic of Ireland and commit ourselves confidently to the ideal of a European Union for the next millennium.

NEIL MONTGOMERY

Woodbridge, Suffolk

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