LETTERS: Maastricht mistakes can be corrected

Share
Related Topics
From Sir Fred Catherwood

Sir: Andrew Marr ("Dreams broken on the streets of Paris", 12 December) is quite right to warn us that, after 50 years of growing European unity, we are at a dangerous turning point. But the reason is not the power of the global economy.

The Maastricht treaty is intended to protect us against the shock waves of the global economy by giving us a currency that would be strong enough to stand up to anything thrown against it, stronger and with a far wider base than the dollar and the yen, and much more easily tradeable than the mark. It would lower interest rates, abolish costly currency conversion within the EU's huge market and win the fight against inflation. Nothing the matter with all that!

The first political mistake was that, unlike the single market, which emerged with strong and widespread popular support from the elected European Parliament, it came from behind the closed doors of the European Council and was seen as the creature of bankers and bureaucrats.

The second political mistake was that the powerful central bank, fully staffed, operating directly in the markets, was not matched with a corresponding increase in the power of the European Parliament, to which it was to be publicly accountable. Chancellor Kohl had made this a sticking point, which he only gave up at the very last moment.

The technical mistake was that, despite its seven-year timetable, it allowed no interim safeguard against the vulnerability of the European Monetary System from the new free movement of currency and larger trade deficits from the freer markets. Twelve countries were left to defend 12 separate exchange rates out of 12 separate currency reserves, and a country could wake up to find that it had lost half of its currency reserves before breakfast. Black Wednesday was a foreseeable disaster which monetary union, when it came, was intended to prevent. Perversely, it took the blame.

The economic mistake was that the new monetary power of the central bank was not matched by a corresponding body which could concert the economic strategy of the member states. So, unlike the single market, it was not seen as a means to create jobs through economic expansion.

All these faults can be put right. The alternative is either the competitive devaluations and trade barriers of the Thirties, or that we are ruled by the Bundesbank.

Yours sincerely,

Fred Catherwood

Balsham,

Cambridgeshire

12 December

The writer was vice-president of the European Parliament, 1989-1991.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Argyll Scott International: 2x Service Desk Analyst

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Argyll Scott International: Service Desk Analyst Re...

Langley James : IT Project Manager; 6 month FTC; Brighton; £400p/d

£400 - £420 per day: Langley James : IT Project Manager; 6 month FTC; Brighton...

Langley James : Web Developer; PHP, MySQL, Java; Blackfriars; £25k

£25000 per annum + training: Langley James : Web Developer; PHP, MySQL, Java; ...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Sales Manager - Holiday Homes - £100,000 OTE

£40000 - £60000 per annum + £100,000 OTE: h2 Recruit Ltd: Birmingham, Derby, L...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The racy marketing to entice consumers to buy Fairlife, which launches in the US next month  

The Fairlife 'Coke Milk' adverts: Do we really need pin-up girls to sell us drinks?

Ylva Johannesson
Australian cricketer Phil Hughes has died aged 25  

Phillip Hughes: A sensational man, both on and off the pitch

Angus Fraser
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?