European Monetary Union and the European Parliament

By Watson, Graham | Contemporary Review, February 1996 | Go to article overview

European Monetary Union and the European Parliament


Watson, Graham, Contemporary Review


'Even if EMU (European Monetary Union) is now unlikely before the end of the century, we in Britain must be aware that others will be using this intervening period to prepare the ground. We must play our full part in these preparations for three vital reasons. First and foremost, because the decisions which have to be taken now are not costless for businesses or banks. Secondly, if Britain stands aside from the EMU debate now we shall only have ourselves to blame if we decide to join later and discover that EMU has been designed to suit Germany. Thirdly, it is in our interests that, if it is going to happen, it works.'

The quotation is apt, nicely summing up the approach taken by the Liberal Democrat group in the European Parliament (EP) and, indeed, by most MEPs. Sensible engagement with the practicalities of the debate, combined with a degree of scepticism about whether the Maastricht timetable is politically achievable: seen from Brussels and Strasbourg that is our recipe for the coming years.

But the words are not my own, nor those of any other Liberal Democrat, nor even those of a fellow MEP. In fact they belong to a Conservative and a member of the European Commission - Sir Leon Brittan, in a speech at the Plaisterers' Hall, City of London, 17 November 1994. That I should agree with him will no doubt be taken by some as further evidence of a Europhile plot, hatched by the three main political parties, designed to railroad the British people down the line to a federal superstate.

The riposte to that is twofold. Primarily it is a question of pragmatism. EMU may or may not happen; Britain may or may not be a part of it. But, within EMU or without, we cannot afford to stand by and watch the creation of a system that is inimical to our way of doing business. We made that mistake once before - The Common Agricultural Policy was designed with French farmers in mind - and have regretted it ever since. We must not make it a second time.

But I hope I can also show that in the European Parliament we have always had the popular legitimacy of the project at the top of our agenda. Far from attempting to proceed by stealth we have been to the fore in trying to ensure that there is a healthy debate on this momentous decision.

Where I would find common ground with the Eurosceptics is in agreeing that, heretofore, Europe has too often been driven by the plans of an elite, not the passions of the many. When the European project was confined to narrower horizons than it is now, that may have been acceptable. When we are discussing changes to the historical, constitutional bedrock of the entire Continent it most definitely is not.

EMU must be for the people of Europe, by the people of Europe. If they feel it has been foisted upon them, that it is to be endured rather than celebrated, then it is sunk before it has even been launched.

Parliament's role so far

But how did we get to where we are now? Before going on to look at what the Parliament wants from EMU in the future it is worth looking at the history of its involvement in the issue.

Of course our statutory involvement has always been limited: EMU is really a child of the Commission and the Council of Ministers. But the EP has always taken a Close interest in its upbringing and has often had more of a say in its development than a simple reading of the Treaties would suggest.

As early as 1989 the Parliament was flexing its muscles on an issue that has remained of central concern ever since - the accountability of the institutions that will guide EMU. The EP amended Commission proposals for the first phase of EMU to enhance the accountability of the Committee of Governors of Central Banks and the Economic Policy Committee. The Commission attempted to reject the amendments but, mindful of the fact that agreed proposals had to be in place by 1 July 1990, was in February 1990 forced to concede most of the Parliament's demands.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

European Monetary Union and the European Parliament
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.