16 MAY 1992, Page 24

LETTERS Brussels expert

Sir: I read Noel Malcolm's article on the debate stimulated across the European Community by the process of ratifying the Maastricht Treaty on European Union ('We'd better find opt what we signed,' 25 April). But his 'revelations' about errors in the text of the Treaty are inaccurate.

He raises three specific points and two general ones. He is wrong on all five.

i) there is no reference to any other Arti- cle, existing or not, in Article 73f of the Treaty; ii) Article 109g refers to 1091.4, not to a 'non-existent Article 149 (2)'; iii) Article 69 and 105 of the Treaty of Rome are mutually consistent: the latter does set up a Monetary Committee. The Union Treaty renumbers the Monetary Committee article and, as from 1994, replaces Article 69.

He also complains that parts of the English version are written 'in language which, whatever it may be, is not English'.

He is right that Community drafting is often inelegant — inevitable when reconcil- ing texts in nine languages — but as actual- ly agreed the section of the text he cites as evidence is clear: their willingness to modulate the levels of Community partici- pation ... ' If Mr Malcolm had a real expert in Brussels, he would have known that this means southerners do not necessarily pay their full whack of matching local finance. A term of art, if not art itself.

Finally, Mr Malcolm suggests that sec- tions of the Treaty may be 'struck out or modified' by the European Court of Jus- tice. Wrong again. This suggests a basic misunderstanding by him of the role of the Court, which has no locus to rule on the treaty itself — simply to interpret it.

No doubt Mr Malcolm was working from an out-of-date text. Understandable, given that legal and linguistic experts spent two

months, post-Maastricht, getting the ipsissi- ma verba right, in nine languages. But before firing these shots, I would expect The Spectator to have glanced at the defini- tive target.

Mr Malcolm quotes an unnamed Brus- sels expert as saying that, if his solicitor produced a contract like this, he would start looking for a new solicitor. Sound advice. I assume you are now in the market for a new Brussels expert.

Tristan Garel-Jones

Foreign & Commonwealth Office, King Charles Street, London SW1