Books 

 

Europe's present challenge and future opportunity 

Jenkins, Roy  

Florence : European University Institute

1977

© Dame Jennifer Jenkins 
Biography 

Roy Jenkins (British, born 1920 - died 2003) was a Labour politician, and historian. He first entered Parliament in 1948, and was a Minister in the 1964 and 1974 Labour governments, serving as Home Secretary (twice) and Chancellor of the Exchequer. He was then President of the European Commission from 1977-1981. Returning to British politics, he was a founder of the Social Democratic Party, which split from Labour and later merged to form the Liberal Democrats. He was elected to Parliament for the SDP and was later appointed to the House of Lords.

Summary 

This speech, the first in the Jean Monnet series by distinguished guests at the European University Institute, was given on 27 October 1977, after Jenkins had completed his first nine months as European Commission President. In a Europe battered by oil-price hikes and economic troubles, Jenkins had sought an initiative to take the Community forward. Having settled on monetary union, reviving the ideas first set out in the 1971 Werner Report, Jenkins used this Florence speech to set out his plans in public for the first time.

Explicitly calling for debate on the subject to be part of the campaign for the first European elections in 1979, Jenkins set out his case for monetary union in seven points:
1- Monetary union would favour more efficient and rationalised industry and trade in the Community
2- The Community would gain from having a major international currency, rivalling the dollar
3- Monetary union would help establish a new era of price stability (he was of course speaking in an era of high inflation)
4- A new impulse, comparable to the industrial revolution, could help to restore full employment
5- A stronger system of public finance would ensure smoother distribution of economic gains among the regions of the Community
6- The Community would develop new institutions to manage monetary policy and public finance
7- Monetary union would be a vehicle for political integration

He rejected the possibility of a gradual development of monetary union, stating that Europe would need to prepare itself to take a “great leap”. Moreover, he underlined the significance of the political implications of monetary union, but noted that Member States no longer had “real and efficient sovereignty over monetary issues”.