Letter: Poor EU script from Redwood

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Sir: I read with much interest John Redwood's script for the future of Europe (4 March). It left me somewhat puzzled that he wants the UK to be the policeman of the Maastricht treaty. As for the UK to be the political voice of the Germans who want to keep their DM and the French who think the Maastricht criteria are a price too high, maybe that is better left to these countries' elected officials.

He also wants the UK to "block any move by Belgium into EMU as her debt levels are well outside the terms of the treaty". Belgium has indeed a high level of debt, the only one of the four criteria (the others are inflation, adhesion to the ERM and interest levels) that needs adjusting. The Belgian public debt is almost entirely an internal debt, labelled in Belgian francs, and very serious efforts are currently made to reduce it, as is generally acknowledged. I therefore submit this should rather be left to be decided by those of the member states who have not secured an opt out for themselves, even if technically the UK might be called to vote by qualified majority.

It is regrettable that so few seem to remember it was the Benelux countries who helped Britain into the then EEC against French opposition and at Britain's persistent insistence during the Sixties and Seventies. And it was under Belgian presidency that in 1970 the decision was taken to open the enlargement negotiations.

P Thuysbaert


Embassy of Belgium

London SW1