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Letter: Government abandons British Steel

Sir: British Steel was fined under Article 65 of the European Coal & Steel Treaty, which was signed 43 years ago in 1951 ('Tebbit in torment over EC move to fine British Steel', 17 February).

Its operation, as yesterday's events so vividly show, is a disgrace and a shambles. British Steel, which is unsubsidised, is suffering because of the excess capacity created by subsidised steel plants elsewhere in Europe.

The real lesson of these events (and of the fiasco over coal last year) is this: if, after 43 years of trying, you still can not make a European treaty limited to just two industries produce the right results, how are you going to make the Maastricht arrangements, which are 100 times more complex, work? What we need is a thorough reform of this treaty (and also of the Common Agricultural Policy and the Single European Act), and we should have done this as a precondition of Maastricht itself.

Yours faithfully,


MP for Stafford (Con)

The European Foundation

London, SW1

17 February