Major to Santer on Art.118: I was Conned
Full text of letter from John Major, Prime Minister, to His
Excellency [sic] Monsieur Jacques Santer, 12 November 1996:
“ARTICLE 118A of the TREATY ESTABLISHING THE EUROPEAN COMMUNITY
My intention in agreeing to the Protocol on Social Policy at
Maastricht [pronounced: “Mass Trick”] was to ensure that social
legislation which placed unnecessary burdens on businesses and
damaged competitiveness could not be imposed on the United Kingdom.
The other Heads of State and Governments also agreed that
arrangement, without which there would have been no agreement at all
However, in its judgment today, the European Court of Justice has
ruled that the scope of Article 118A is much broader than the United
Kingdom envisaged when the article was originally agreed, as part of
the Single European Act.
This appears to mean that legislation which the United Kingdom had
expected would be dealt with under the Protocol can in fact be
adopted under Article 118A.
That is contrary to the clear and express wishes of the United
Kingdom Government, and goes directly counter to the spirit of what
we agreed at Maastricht. It is unacceptable and must be remedied.
The United Kingdom will therefore table amendments in the
inter-governmental Conference to restore the position to that which
the United Kingdom Government intended following the Maastricht
agreement. Those amendments will be aimed at both ensuring that
Article 118A cannot in future be used in ways contrary to the United
Kingdom’s expectation, and dealing with the specific problem of the
Working Time Directive.
I attach the utmost importance to these amendments and I shall insist
that they form part of the outcome of the Intergovernmental
Conference. I do not see how new agreements can be reached if earlier
agreements are undermined.
Meanwhile, I urge the Commission to refrain from making proposals
under Article 118A which properly belong under the other Members
States’ Agreement on Social Policy.
I am sending copies of this letter to the Heads of State or
Governments of European Union Member States.