Letter: Rushed reforms are throttling EC

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The Independent Online
Sir: As a strong supporter of the European Community, and grateful for its major achievements, I find myself becoming daily more furiously frustrated at the effect of the operational mechanisms it spawns, ostensibly in the name of progress, but which are, in reality, drawing a cord ever tighter around its neck.

Your leading article today dubs the present machinations of the ERM as the worst of all worlds and suggests that one way out of the present predicament would be to progress more quickly to a single currency as provided for in the Maastricht treaty.

As you suggest in the next sentence, that is almost certainly not a practical possibility. Thank heaven for that. Everything that has happened recently indicates that if it were, it would merely add a mega-disaster on to a mounting pile of micro-disasters.

Surely it is crucial that on the European front our decision-makers now take time out to breathe deeply, and think deeply, before rushing headlong into further precipitate action, however well

intentioned.

Too much is being attempted too quickly. To talk in terms of the degree of economic convergence required for European monetary union by the end of the century is patently nonsensical. It isn't going to happen. But so what?

We can manage perfectly well without it. We already have an ecu (actually two, because there is also a deviant green ecu), a market to convert ecus into national currencies, and we are achieving ever- greater freedom of movement of goods and people. Terrific. Let us enjoy those achievements and build on them slowly, then we shall make further progress and people will be able to enjoy that.

Politicians and their civil servants (perhaps in European terms it should be the other way round) have an almost insatiable appetite for doing something. All too often they are undoing something that has already been done and trying to redo it in a way that may not come to pieces quite so quickly next time.

One of the EC's oldest institutions, the Common Agricultural Policy, has suffered more than its share of such fire-brigade work. The latest effort in that direction, the 1992 MacSharry reforms, are an unmitigated disaster. The complexity and the form-filling is unbelievable, the attendant corruption inevitable.

Will the European Community never be able to agree to make haste more slowly? If it can't, I fear it will fast make enemies of its friends.

Yours sincerely,

SIMON GOURLAY

Knighton, Powys

1 February

The writer was president of the National Farmers' Union 1986-91.

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