Letter: Political barriers to reducing unemployment in Europe

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The Independent Online
Sir: The fiasco of the Maastricht ratification and the rising level of unemployment demonstrate that something has gone wrong with European leadership, but Jonathan Eyal (21 June) is wrong in supposing that no one has thought through the problems or come up with any solution. Although the heads of government seem to decide everything and 'the elected Parliament nothing', both the Single European Act and the Maastricht treaty follow carefully thought through and politically and nationally balanced proposals made by the European Parliament.

It is impossible for 12 foreign secretaries flitting in and out of Brussels, let alone 12 heads of government cramming everything into two days, 'to think through the problems'. And it is extremely difficult for governments, fighting for their political lives, to put their heads too high above the parapet to make a political case against some current mood.

Who would have thought, to listen to governments, that the centrepiece of Maastricht was a strong monetary union crafted precisely to avoid the predicted failure of an EMS too weak to stand up against speculators? Who would have thought that one of the strongest arguments for a single currency was that it gave us the same power as the US to create jobs witbout damage to the currency? And no government will admit that the main weakness of Maastricht is that economic union is too weak, because governments are now pledged to retain total national control over fiscal policy - as the Germans are now doing quite legitimately, but to the severe damage of all the rest of us.

The prolonged, damaging and debilitating Maastricht argument shows that a Community of 340 million can no longer be run by foreign offices from behind the closed doors of the Council of Ministers. It needs to depend, as all other democratic processes depend, on open parliamentary debate, and the last word with the elected representatives of the people.

Yours sincerely,

FRED CATHERWOOD

MEP for Cambridge and

North Bedfordshire (Con)

Strasbourg

22 June

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