Signor De Mita
Today's meeting with Mrs. Thatcher occurred in a climate of great friendship and sincerity. I would like to avail myself of this opportunity to thank once again the Prime Ministers and the other members of the Government who are present here to have accepted the invitation to be here in Pallanza.
Today's meetings have allowed us to carry out an in-depth review of the relations between our two countries and a careful exchange of views on the major international problems.
I am happy to be able to define as “excellent” the relations between Italy and Great Britain. Numerous cooperation exists in the economic field, in the industry, military industry, scientific field and cultural field pursued with mutual satisfaction. To further strengthen these ties, we have today finalised some agreements which I would like to list: [end p1] the signature today of an agreement against double taxation;
the exchange of notes to modify the Consular Convention of 1954;
the strengthening of our position on the fight against drugs; and
the beginning of negotiations for reaching an agreement to regulate the confiscation of profits deriving with drug trafficking; and
the intensification of cooperation between our two countries in the scientific field by deciding to constitute and set up joint groups … . in the sectors of bio-technology, micro-electronic and new materials.
I have reported to the Prime Minister the result of our meetings that occurred last week in Moscow with Mr. Gorbachev. [end p2]
Together, we had an in-depth exchange of views on the prospects of relations between the East and West. Italy's position and Great Britain's position are, under this aspect, quite near and we both believe that we have to follow with attention the positive signals we receive from the Soviet Union in the most diverse sectors—from the control of armaments to the request of closer relations in the economic, scientific and cultural fields.
We have both stressed that we have to maintain an equal attention to guarantee the conditions of security in Europe. In this context, Western Europe is called undoubtedly to give a contribution of high level in defining the objectives of security in our continent and to favour at the same time progress in the field of conventional disarmament.
We have expressed the hope that the definition of the mandate in Vienna might be completed as soon as possible, in order to allow the beginning of negotiations with the twenty-three countries within the end of this year. This requires, of course, close cooperation between Italy and Great Britain and amongst all European countries in the NATO framework and in the Western European Union.
We have welcomed with satisfaction the rapid progress made by negotiations for the adhesion of Spain and Portugal to the WEU and we hope that they might be included as soon as possible. [end p3]
I have communicated to Mrs. Thatcher the addition of Italy to the British proposal to proceed to a joint mine-sweeping activity in the Persian Gulf by the Western European countries in the area. This initiative falls within the framework of the measures aimed at establishing, in concert with our Western Allies, the times and means of the end of our mission in the Gulf.
We have favourably assessed the proposal to hold in Paris in a short time a conference to re-state the ban on the use of chemical armaments on the basis of the Geneva Protocol of 1925. We also believe that the ban on the use of this kind of arms is not enough and that it is instead necessary to state the principle of a concrete destruction of the armaments and stocks existing. This is why we hope that the Paris conference will first of all serve to re-state the political commitment to conclude negotiations underway in the conference in Geneva for the total ban of chemical arms.
On the Community question, we have stressed once again our common commitment to complete the Single Market within 1992 and in that view we hope that after the progress made under the German Presidency, all further steps forward may be done within this year. [end p4]
A significant result was reached with the approval of one of the directives in the field of public tenders. I have stressed that, together with measures of integration of markets, great importance is attached by us to the other objectives provided for in the Single European Act and in particular to the social aspects of internal cohesion as well as to the need to proceed to institutional adaptations in the political and economic field as required by the process of integration of our economy.
In view of the forthcoming European Council of Rhodes, I have also suggested that besides issues pertaining to the internal market and other objectives set out in the Single Act, we should deepen the role of the Community in the international context in the light also of the profits which are open to us in the relations between EEC and Eastern European countries.
A great deal of attention should also be attached to the initiatives for the protection of the environment … . [end p5]
Ciriaco De MitaPrime Minister, Ladies and Gentlemen, Prime Minister De Mita has given you a very comprehensive picture of the talks we have had including in particular the measures that we have signed today and those which are in preparation.
I should like to thank him for inviting us to Italy for this Anglo-Italian Summit, for the very generous hospitality that we have received, and for the warmth and friendly atmosphere in which the talks have been conducted. It has been a very happy and useful bilateral.
Prime Minister De Mita and I met at the Economic Summit in Torronto in June so this is an opportunity to continue the discussions which we began then, and very valuable it has been. [end p6]
Prime Minister De Mita clearly had a very useful and successful visit to Moscow, upon which I warmly congratulate him. We discussed many things about East-West relations and I think it is very good for Soviet leaders to hear the same message from all of us and to realise how firm and united the NATO Alliance is.
We all welcome what Mr Gorbachev is trying to achieve in the Soviet Union and we wish him well in his endeavours. But we have to remind ourselves that the aim is not to introduce democracy in the Soviet Union as we understand it, but to make the Soviet system of a one party state, in which the communist party is supreme, work more effectively. And moreover the Soviet Union does continue to maintain forces far in excess of what are needed for defence alone and to modernise them.
So while we wish Mr Gorbachev well, and I yield to no-one in that wish, we wish him well, we nevertheless have to keep our own defences strong so that whatever may happen, freedom and justice and democracy in the West will remain secure.
One of the issues we talked about in this context was the Soviet proposal that there should in due course be a Human Rights Conference in Moscow, as part of the follow-up to the CSCR meeting in Vienna, and my own clear view on this and on which I have talked to Chancellor Kohl briefly, is that our agreement to such a meeting must depend upon real concrete improvements in the Soviet Union's performance on all the fundamental human rights issues. [end p7]
That is absolutely vital, otherwise we should be letting down all those brave people in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe who fought so hard for basic human rights. Important progress has been made. Let us accept that, admit it, and welcome it and congratulate Mr Gorbachev upon it, but it is still a very long way from the basic position on human rights which we understand.
We also discussed a number of European Community topics in a very good atmosphere, yes very frankly, yes very freely. I sometimes think that the positions are not as far apart as those who make their lives inviting a commentary about it would like to think.
The way we express our approach to Europe is perhaps different, but we are absolutely agreed in wanting to see completion of the Single Market by 1992 and the Prime Minister stressed that very clearly.
The spirit of enterprise is very strong in both Britain and Italy and both our countries stand to benefit from the achievement of the Single Market. I also stressed the importance, and I know the Prime Minister agrees, with outward looking Community which does not erect new barriers against the outside world as it dismantles barriers within Europe. And in this context we must make a success of the mid-term meeting of the GATT multilateral trade negotiations in Montreal in December.
For that to be possible, the Community will have to commit itself to further reductions in agricultural support, over and [end p8] above the reforms implemented as a result of our agreement at the European Council last February.
We had just a little discussion about the Middle East and I thank Prime Minister De Mita for Italy's agreement to take part in the operation to which he has referred in the Gulf, which is called Operation Cleansweep, to help clear the main shipping lanes in the Gulf from mines.
Of course we are also jointly involved in the sale of the Tornedo to Jordan. I know that you will expect me to say something about the sale of arms to Libya and of course I did remind the Prime Minister that a large amount of Libyan arms get to the IRA. That is a terrorist organisation, it aims to shoot, bomb, maim people whom it cannot persuade by the democratic system and naturally we would be very unhappy if there were any more arms sales to Libya.
We also covered a number of bilateral matters. The Prime Minister has given you a very very good account of that so I will not repeat it, except to say how pleased I am that we are making very good progress on those.
Altogether it has been a very useful and friendly meeting, an extremely happy bilateral. We are particularly glad that it has been held in the Villa Taranto, with its connections with Britain, with its lovely gardens, and everything has been prepared for us to the highest possible standards and we would quite like to stay longer and discuss further but I know that you will want to get out [end p9] to write your reports and of course you will wish to cross-examine us very carefully.
But please get the flavour of this thing right. It has been a very happy, very useful, very practical Summit, and I think the degree of agreement is very great.
Over to you. [end p10]
Luigi Bismara (The Giorno)
A question for Mrs. Thatcher.
Prime Minister, your speech during the last weeks in Bruges in Belgium has provoked strong reactions from the Belgian and Netherlands press. Chancellor Kohl has accused you of excessive pragmatism and of insular individualism because you are against a complete European integration and moreover, according to what we read on today's newspapers, Chancellor Kohl has launched a crusade against Mrs. Thatcher with our President of the Council of Ministers, who is also the Secretary of the Christian Democratic Party. [end p11]
Did you find a greater entente, greater points of convergency or else the differences between the United Kingdom and its European partners have remained unchanged?
First, the speech at Bruges needed to be made. It caused quite a stir in some quarters and an avalanche of support from many others.
I pointed out that Europe was not the invention of the Treaty of Rome.
I pointed out that the history of my country has been bound up with that of Europe for centuries.
I pointed out that many of our fundamental human rights came from the values and the area which was known as “Christendom” .
I pointed out the amount which we had gained in our rule of law from Justinian, The Second Empire of Rome.
I pointed out the great renaissance of art which was part of Europe.
I pointed out the fantastic scientific heritage that we all have from Europe.
I pointed out that the boundaries of Europe were not limited to the European Economic Community.
I pointed out that we have no intention of sitting on the fringes of Europe. Our history has been bound up with it. The campaign for the liberation of Europe was mounted from our shores. [end p12]
I pointed out that we station more troops outside our own country for the defence of Europe, in Europe, than any other country.
I pointed out we are the second largest contributor to Europe.
Now! You do not need to doubt my commitment to a European ideal—a European ideal which is a lot older than the Treaty of Rome.
Now! Where do we differ?
I believe that the greatest cooperation will be obtained by free cooperation between sovereign states, each proud of their culture, their traditions, of their sovereignty. That will have the greatest momentum forwards.
I pointed out that if you discard some of the vague speeches that are made about vague terms like “European integration” and look at the practical progress on matters which I think we can do far better together than separately, you will find that Britain's record is second to none and way beyond the record of many of our critics.
Gentlemen—and ladies too—I ask you to read the speech! You will find so much that you can agree with! [end p13]
Where we may differ with others is that there are some who are wanting what they call a “United States of Europe” . I do not think it is possible. Any analogy with the United States of America is false. People left Europe to go to America for its greater freedom and to build a country. They have done wonders. They have taken all that was best in Europe with them, sometimes features which they did not find in Europe at that time.
Our present Europe has many many different languages, many many different cultures, many many different systems. I think we are stronger recognising them and using them, rather than by trying to eliminate them.
I was very interested that Chancellor Kohl, whom I spoke to yesterday, pointed out that in his view there was no question of suppressing national feeling or national identity. Respectfully, I agree!
Jackie Ashley (ITN)
Mrs. Thatcher, it seems that Prime Minister De Mita 's vision of Europe in the future still involves much more social and political union than your own.
I appreciate the remarks you just made, but can you explain how your vision of a Europe in 1992 is going to coincide with Prime Minister De Mita 's and did you discuss that today or did you avoid the issue? [end p14]
Look! You do not need any changes between now and 1992 to reach the position in 1992 that we want to get to. You do not need any more changes at all. What you need is practical agreement on the measures.
The first Presidency in working towards 1992, after we had made that our target date, was my own. We agreed forty-eight directives during that Presidency.
If you look at the structure of the Single Act, what you have to do is to get the agreement of each and every country—Notice! The agreement of each and every country!—to get to 1992.
Some of those directives will be hotly contested, of course they will, because the interests are different and there are many, if I might put it this way, invisible barriers to trade which are far more difficult to deal with than the visible barriers.
We were one of the countries who were pressing for the Single Market, because if you look at the original Treaty of Rome, you will find that the achievement of the Single Market ranks before the achievement of the Common Agricultural Policy. So you do not need any changes, any argument, any debate about reaching the Single European Act—you need progress on the directives, you need to agree the ones which you can. [end p15]
I do not think myself that there will be any possibility of agreeing on approximation of taxation systems. It is not necessary for the completion of a Single Market.
So, if you are talking about 1992, you are talking about practical measures forward, not European Union or political union or anything like that.
John Wiles (Financial Times)
Prime Minister, if I could just press you a little more on this point, because Mr. De Mita this week has actually said quite clearly that as far as he is concerned, it would be absurd to think in terms of implementing the practical programme for 1992 of which you have just spoken without also anticipating the changes in the Community's political mechanisms which must either accompany it or come in their wake.
One of the things which he and some of your other European colleagues have been talking about recently is the need indeed to adapt the system of monetary collaboration within the European Monetary System, to provide for greater coordination and indeed to perhaps put the first building blocks into place for a European Central Bank. [end p16]
What I would like to know is whether in fact you are opposed now in principle to any such institutional change which involves further transfers of sovereignty or whether in fact your position is “Let us get this 1992 programme through and then let us see if there is a political requirement for institutional change!”
Could you explain on that please?
I will explain it as I have explained it many many times previously and you must have heard me many many times previously if you have come to these conferences:
A European Central Bank in the only true meaning of the term means surrendering your economic policy to that banking system, which is in charge of the maintenance of the value of the currency and therefore must be in charge of the necessary economic policy to achieve that.
As Otto Pöhl said in one of the most brilliant articles about it I have read, it would mean surrendering that economic policy to the Board of the Bank, neither to the European Parliament nor to the National Parliaments nor to the European Commission. I neither want nor expect ever to see such a bank in my lifetime—nor, if I am twanging a harp—for quite a long time afterwards! [end p17]
What I suspect they will attempt to do is to call something a “European Central Bank” which it is not and never can be, because I cannot see my fellow Heads of Governments surrendering all their powers to such an anonymous kind of body.
Now, when it comes to 1992, what we have to do is to agree on the directive “Free Movement of Capital” . We have it. Many of our partners do not. No foreign exchange control. We have it—many of our partners do not.
Greater diversity of currencies held within Central Bank reserves. We have it—many of our partners do not.
Greater dealing in the Ecu. We do it—many of our partners do not.
So you see what I mean. When it comes to practical measures, you will find us way way ahead of people who talk in indefined general terms.
Can I just press you?
Do you not accept though that managing a system of free movement of capital is going to require a greater degree of collaboration and coordination which indeed will put a constraint on your management of economic policy? [end p18]
No, I do not!
There are some people in Europe who are saying in order to have free movement of capital we must see that other people have a similar rate of capital taxation to that particular country making that point.
You do not need that! Germany has got free movement of capital; Holland has got free movement of capital; we have got free movement of capital.
We did not say—because it was not true—that you had to have equalisation of capital taxes.
There are some people who are trying to use the Treaty of Rome and the Single European Act, which is a measure to reduce constraints on trade, a measure to reduce constraint on the free movement of capital, as a measure to increase constraints of taxation. That is wrong.
Just because someone else wants our capital taxes to come up to theirs, is not any reason why they should. We have free movement of capital.
I am quite happy to go on, but please, can we have some questions to Ciriaco De Mitamy host, because you are not being very kind. He is sitting there waiting to answer questions! I can go on for an hour or two hours or three, but it is not very courteous to him. [end p19]
Paolo Valentino (Corriere Della Sera)
Can the Prime Minister of Italy make comments on what Mrs. Thatcher has said on the European Central Bank?
Signor De Mita
Anyone who has followed discussions in Europe on this question knows that different positions have been expressed.
The position that has prevailed in the last Summit of Hanover goes on a parallel basis with what has been said by the Prime Minister of Britain. The prevailing opinion is that given phenomena can be followed imagining in watching what is happening but they can also be followed by anticipating what may happen (sic).
I think that this is the trend of the discussion: if we discuss perspectives the difference of views amongst European countries does exist, but there has been agreement today on the way to proceed on the single phases and steps that I indicated.
Today's talks have led me to the following comments:
That as with the Government of Great Britain, we understand things better when we discus on current events. We have greater difficulties when we talk about perspectives in the future. I think this is also due to different traditions, different experiences, in politics. What matters is concrete political acts, so this is what has to be assessed and judged. [end p20]
At the moment, what we have done is the following:
We have given birth to a procedure that would govern a market of capital in Europe. I do understand the reference made and most likely Prime Minister Thatcher is right in referring to the agreements of the Single Act and I am saying this for some British newspapermen who have asked this and I do not think we would be wise and farsighted politicians if we would not realise that the Single Market requires a step forward on the political level, because otherwise we would be faced by difficulties. So what is assessed today as a wise decision that is to have limited agreement on the economic level, if this is not followed by an equal initiative on the political level this might create in Europe greater difficulties than it would have created in the economic sector. This is the opinion of the Italian Government and this is the opinion of many governments in Europe and I think that democracy unity made so that discussion on stemming some different opinions leads to a common agreement. If we want to build Europe, we have to take account of our differences because otherwise we would not have the need to build Europe (sic). [end p21]
What I would like to know is that, having heard Mrs Thatcher's speech at Bruges and having heard Chancellor Lawson 's speech last night in London in which he used the word “nonsense” to describe plans for a Single European currency, I think the question that is perplexing many people in Italy and in Europe generally is: are we to assume that this tone is adopted for domestic consumption in England or are we to assume that this is also the tone and style of language adopted in these frank and cordial discussions that you have been having?
Are you going to have a go or am I? No, there really are not that number of difficulties. There just are not. We have got a practical way ahead. We are getting on very well with that practical way ahead and as I indicated, Britain is quite [end p22] considerably in the lead in some of the practical measures.
What you are trying to do is trying by various phrases and putting various phrases to us, to create differences. Now you put to me a specific, clearly defined, practical proposition and I will answer you, but I do not expect to be killed in the rush—clearly defined, practical propositions.
Prime Minister De Mita has spoken recently about a Marshall Plan to help the Soviet Union, and as I understand it the Marshall Plan means giving money without no immediate returns and as far as I know you and your policy, that goes against everything you have said so far. Could you comment on that and would you agree with the Marshall Plan?
Signor De Mita
I would like to explain something which has already been well explained because of what is clearly written. So as to learn how this assessment comes about, I think that it would be relevant, as we have done this morning in our talks, to recall things that have already happened in the past.
In Toronto the discussion of Heads of Government was mainly based on East-West relations. The Summit did not take place for this. It had an economic objective to discuss but it concentrated discussions of the Heads of State and Government on this matter. [end p23]
I would say that this position has not been denied also in our meeting this morning. We have confirmed this assessment and I would say that all Heads of State and Government consider Gorbachev 's presence in the Soviet Union as an extraordinary event. I would say that if each Head of State and Government would be asked, he would answer with the wish that Gorbachev can be successful with his programme.
Because of the interdependence of human events, it was also said that Western countries could have had an influence on this result, either in a positive or in a negative way because it could also be a negative way of having an input and the assessment was to be attentive and also a positive contribution was thought of thinking of this positive contribution as not an interference but as an adoption of general policies that would create a framework of international relations as far as to favour, to support Gorbachev 's policies.
In the meetings that have taken place I think that both myself and the Foreign Minister, and I speak for him also because we were there together, we have understood that there is a strong interest in the Soviet Union to have a reduction of military investments because if these military expenses are not reduced, then it would be difficult to think of investment programmes for the Soviet economy. [end p24]
So if Europe and the Western world assume a position of cooperation towards the achieving of this goal, they would give help and of course always being very attentive, they would take a negative position then of course they would not help, they would create difficulties.
Second, as always in our country, discussions are not because of knowledge but because of things that have been said. The expression Marshall Plan does not stem from an assessment of mine but rather because a few months ago in talking with representatives of the Eastern countries, Hungary in particular, we spoke about the difficulty of exchange of trade between the Western world and Eastern European countries and we thought that this trade exchange is rather limited and just the will to increase this would not have been sufficient.
So the person responsible for economic activities in Hungary said, to my surprise, that their mistake was not to have accepted the Marshall Plan so this is how this expression comes about. In other words, they have the problem of recovering vis-a-vis Western economies, this gap.
I think that today, for the Western world and for Europe and I would say not only for the benefit of Western economy, but for convenient things for the Western economy that if political conditions are so, there should be this wish to accelerate exchange, Western countries to invest and the Soviet Union economy to change [end p25] into becoming an economy of consumption and this is why our Trade Minister has worked for this and also it has been said widely so that this problem cannot only be faced by Italy alone but by the Western countries as a whole and by Europe in particular.
This was the assessment in the final proposal. If we discuss this, most likely we are going to understand each other, but if we are going to discuss words or justice then this would only help us in getting different opinions and not getting towards an agreement.
Can I try to summarise the extent to which we are agreed, which is very great, on our total relationship with the Soviet Union and East-West? We discussed it and I think we are agreed on the following which in matter of fact is most things.
First, that we negotiate arms control agreements toughly, carefully, keeping our own defence sure throughout. Secondly, that we continue to press on human rights which are not an internal matter because of the Helsinki Accords which were signed by all parties. Thirdly, that we continue to enhance political contacts between ourselves and the Soviet Union and East European countries which we are all doing and supporting Mr Gorbachev in his endeavours. Fourthly, that we enhance what I call the people-to-people contacts. That is to say I think more of our people are travelling in the Soviet Union and many of us have arrangements [end p26] between schools in the Soviet Union and our home states, extra cultural contacts, extra people-to-people contacts. That is happening. Fifth, that we are all making arrangements for trade credits to increase trade between ourselves and the Soviet Union. Sixth, that we recognise the need for management training and Joint Ventures in the Soviet Union which we are all actively setting up. And seventh and last, that we do fully appreciate the significance of the five Permanent Members of the Security Council working together in the United Nations. That has been very valuable in achieving peace in areas where hitherto it was extremely difficult.
We have together discussed these things. We have agreed upon them. Can I say to you that that is an enormous area of agreement which augers well for Italy, for the United Kingdom and for the wider world.
Prime Minister De Mita, can you give us an assessment of how serious the difference of view is between Mrs Thatcher and Italy and also with other countries concerning the prospects of the future in Europe?
Signor De Mita
I think that I have said that there is main agreement on immediate decisions. Perhaps on the forecast for the future [end p27] there can be different views that can be divergencies that if there is a different behaviour, but this does not mean that as time goes by we do not build on agreements, since politicians cannot be prophets. I think it is better to assess agreement on what has been decided instead of trying to interpret the course of events in the future.
As you go steadily forward, I think myself that the differences will get less because the acid test is always what happens when you come to take the practical decisions? It is not then a matter of general talk but the specifies. Now may I look at the practical decisions we have to take in the coming years.
First, all the way up to 1992 on the specific Directives. 1992 does not suddenly happen, it is a gradual process. Each of those requires practical decisions, that is the first point.
Second, we have major decisions to take in the GATT and we are fully in agreement, Italy and the United Kingdom, that Europe must not be protectionist but there is a point of getting down barriers to trade within as an example to the wider world to get down barriers to trade without. That is a big job and we must be in the lead on it. It is not going to be easy to get agreement.
The third thing is, we are absolutely agreed on all of these, that agreement to keep the United States and Europe together, the most important thing in the world is that this fantastic Alliance, [end p28] NATO Alliance in defence of democracy, must stay strong and that really the centre of freedom in the world is the Atlantic Community which I say is Europe both sides of the Atlantic. That is not against Europe at all, it is in Europe's interest, in the United States' interest and in the interests of democracy.
On those we are absolutely agreed so on the last two questions, I have given you seven points on which we agreed on East-West, three points on which we agreed in the way ahead. Now that is not half bad to write your articles for tomorrow about, if you will do so, all right?
Prime Minister De Mita, you have said that the concrete political axe [sic] is what counts so in this meeting have you agreed on European questions that have been the main objective of discussion for today and on which items have you found agreement?
Signor De Mita
This meeting was not an occasion to decide on matters, it belongs to a tradition of bilateral agreements which we have with France, with Great Britain, with Germany, with Spain, these meetings are meant to go into the depth of matters instead of solving them because then the appropriate fora is the European Community. [end p29]
Discussions have taken place, as you have been able to hear here, with perhaps a different trend due to different temperaments, to different geographical areas, we perhaps a bit more thinking of building on the future and Prime Minister Thatcher more about the creating of the present, and on the present we have agreed.
I do not think there is difference in the foreign policies as Prime Minister De Mita said. Perhaps the impression may have been given of a difference of views, but if I would want to joke I would want to say that the Socialist Trade Minister has been sort of slowed down by the Prime Minister to show that the position of the government is one of agreement.
Excuse me, can I just briefly? You wanted practical points. The Prime Minister gave some of them to you at the beginning. Do not forget, on the practical points today we have discussed and been very pleased that we had come to an agreement against maritime terrorism. Second, we discussed a possible treaty to confiscate the proceeds from drug trafficking. Thirdly, we have signed a Double Taxation Agreement today. Fourthly, we have discussed cooperation on defence, on the EH101 on Tornedo and Operation Cleansweep. [end p30] Fifthly, we have discussed the cooperation on industrial and scientific measures, including the spallation neutron source where in fact Italy cooperates with us on that particular project and the Eureka programmes. Sixthly we look forward to a major exhibition of modern Italian art at the Royal Academy in London in January and seventhly we have a very intensive series of Ministerial exchanges.
You want practical things, there you are.