2016 – 010 How John Major was tricked by the EU over the Maastricht Treaty

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:


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 
at Maastricht.

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.

Yours sincerely,

John Major”

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