Anger at `predictable' policies

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The Independent Online
SARAH HELM

Brussels

The White Paper on the European Union was greeted in Brussels as "entirely predictable", serving only to clarify once again Britain's hard line against further integration.

The European Commission, commented wearily that the Government had stuck to its well-known policy line on almost every front. "It is much as we expected," one senior official said. "On all questions of sovereignty there is no movement. There is no to majority voting and no more competences for the European institutions."

The European Parliament, which might have hoped for some nod from Britain towards the building of European democracy, was angered by the lack of any positive proposals. The White Paper even accused the parliament of failing to use the new powers it was granted at Maastricht responsibly.

"This is an anodyne paper which does not address the concerns of the people of Europe," Wayne David, leader of the Labour group of MEPs, said. "All Britain's European partners will be seriously disappointed once again by the Government's apparent refusal to countenance any extension of qualified majority voting."

Britain has long been alone in opposing further reduction of the veto- power. Every other member state argues that the EU can only operate efficiently in future if majority voting becomes the rule not the exception.

But Britain's refusal to grant more powers to the parliament, will find some sympathy with the French, who believe national parliaments must be given a greater say over decision making.

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