The Rt. Hon. Sir John Major KG CH

Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 1990-1997

1992Prime Minister (1990-1997)

Mr Major’s Trans-Atlantic Policy Network – 16 December 1992

Below is the text of Mr Major’s speech given to launch the Transatlantic Policy Network. The speech was given in Strasbourg on Wednesday 16th December 1992.


Fitting that I should today be launching an organisation aimed at strengthening transatlantic links. For tomorrow I cross the Atlantic to represent the European Community with President Delors in Summit meetings with Canada and the US.

The meeting is taking place under the framework of the November 1990 EC declarations with Canada and the US. These encapsulate the vital importance to them of the transatlantic relationship, importance in the political field, in trade, in security and other areas of cooperation.

What is the message that the President of the Commission and I will be able to take to North America? I think the message we can give to President Bush and Prime Minister Mulroney is of a Europe which has recovered its self-confidence and is emerging from a period of turbulence and uncertainty. The Edinburgh summit did successfully tackle the main questions on the Community agenda, there are others to be dealt with, there is no immediate easy time ahead when problems will fall away, as the Community develops there will always be difficulties for us to confront.

But we have now confronted those that were most immediate and most pressing. We have a way forward on the Danish question, the Danish Prime Minister is as determined as I am, as the President of the Commission is, to see that matter put to the Danish electorate, the referendum won and the Community go forward as twelve. Edinburgh has dealt with other matters of immediate importance like future financing and enlargement and all those matters we have had the opportunity of discussing this morning.

All this I think provides a very good backdrop for our talks across the Atlantic this week. But perhaps the most single important feature has been the recent deal between the Community and the United States on agriculture, important of course for its own right for it was hard fought, difficult to obtain and I believe the Community negotiators did an excellent job on behalf of all the Twelve. But above that the importance of that agreement is that it has without doubt brought an overall Uruguay Agreement closer than it would otherwise be and that overall GATT agreement is vital if we are to have growth and prosperity. The best estimates we can provide show that it would boost trade between the Community and the United States, already running at 190 billion dollars a year and experts estimate that the overall boost to the world economy will eventually be worth as much as 200 billion dollars a year, not just to the developed world but also of interest to many people here today, to the developing world as well who desperately need that agreement and markets opening for their produce.

So as well as those trade issues there will be other issues to discuss. Talks in Ottawa and Washington must focus on the main political challenges the West faces, the crisis in Yugoslavia, the mounting problems, apparently worsening even in the last few days, faced in Russia by President Yeltsin. The solution to those problems are vital for Yugoslavia of course, vital for Russia, but they are equally vital for those of us in Western Europe as well to make sure there is a satisfactory conclusion to them.

I do not have any doubt in my mind that those people who see Europe developing and the relationship with America and Canada falling away are wrong, as Europe goes forward the transatlantic link will remain strong because it is in both our interests to ensure that it remains strong, the democracies in North America and the democracies in Europe have a joint task in a difficult and turbulent world and they will work better together than apart and I think that is wholly understood by politicians on both sides of the Atlantic.

The relationship I think is bigger than just politics, the depth of it is shown in a variety of other ways, between academics, between businessmen, between private individuals, those are the links that are often intangible but are indissoluble as well and they are of vital importance to our joint future.

So I congratulate James and his colleagues, I think that the Transatlantic Policy initiative will fulfil an important role in encouraging, enhancing those links and making sure that they endure. So with that in mind I am delighted to be asked to be one of its honorary chairmen and I wish the link every conceivable success for the future.