Margaret Thatcher called the European Commission’s plans for a single currency a “rush of blood to the head,” according to documents from 30 years ago published in the Irish government archives.
In an echo of the divisive political debate that ultimately led to Brexit, the then British prime minister lashed out at the “politburo” in Brussels and vowed not to be dictated, during talks with her then Irish counterpart.
The Conservative leader compared handing over tax powers to giving away sovereignty to Europe, 1990 files show.
The Irish government note recorded Thatcher saying: “In speaking of a single currency, [Jacques] Delors must have had a rush of blood to his head.
“We are not going to have a single currency.”
Jacques Delors was president of the European Commission at the time and an advocate for deeper integration.
Thatcher participated in talks with Irish Taoiseach Charles Haughey in June 1990, state archives showed.
She became more and more frank about what she saw as an overreach on the part of the commission and, in turn, inspired the growth of Euroscepticism in the ranks of the Conservative party.
Irish newspapers show that he wanted to turn the commission into a professional civil service, without power of initiative, whose job it would be to serve on the council of ministers representing national governments in Europe.
She told Haughey that cultural differences between member states on the domestic market for goods would remain.
“Italians will continue without paying taxes,” he said at one point.
He accused the European court of giving the commission more powers.
“The days of the appointed commissioners must be numbered. We must empower the council of ministers, ”he said. “I am not handing over authority to an unelected bureaucracy … I am getting completely fed up with the European community trying to tie us down with bureaucratic regulations.”
Haughey said the commission was contacting local Irish authorities and inviting groups to Brussels. “They go behind the government’s back,” he said.
At that time, the Soviet Union’s control over Eastern Europe was collapsing and Thatcher compared European integration to communism.
“We are trying to get Eastern Europe to accept democratic standards and here we are recreating our own politburo. They are too much. “
He said he would not accept a central bank from the then 12 EU member states and that he wanted to keep inflation low by allying himself with the Deutsche Mark.
He noted that Germany had experience with inflation (the hyperinflation brought on by the printing of paper money heralded the rise of Nazism) and kept its currency as a gold standard, where cash had a value directly linked to that of the precious metal.
Thatcher said the central bank of the 12 would not have the same will to fight inflation as the Germans.
“They would think of economic growth, employment and inflation as equal goals and they would mix them all. All we want is an effective gold standard and the Deutsche Mark provides it for us. “
Newly published articles are in the National Archives of Ireland under the reference number 2020/17/31.
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