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Letter: Continuing mysteries of Maastricht

Sir: Efforts to elucidate the mysteries of the Maastricht treaty are commendable, but Andrew Marshall and Sarah Lambert (1 June) have got it wrong in asserting that, in 1999, a single currency can only be introduced on condition that 'most of the 12 must decide in favour'. Article 1O9j(4) of the Maastricht treaty specifies that the third stage of monetary union (a single currency) 'shall start on 1 January, 1999'. The only discretion is in deciding which of the member states (which, by then, will in any case number more than 12) fulfil the necessary criteria: even a minority could set up a single currency among themselves.

They are also wrong to assert that 'the European Parliament must give its approval'. Unfortunately, the parliament is only consulted on this crucial decision affecting all European citizens.

Finally, they are wrong to say that 'you can't buy anything with the Ecu in a shop'. There may be no Ecu coins other than in Belgium, where they are legal tender, but you can open a bank account in Ecus and write cheques in Ecus. Shops which accept them show more foresight in their attitudes to monetary union than the British government.

Yours faithfully,


Antwerp, Belgium