Conference warned that Maastricht 'no' would leave EC facing crisis

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The Independent Online
EUROPE could face economic and political crisis if it fails to ratify the Maastricht treaty, a senior international official said yesterday. Jacques Attali, President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, presented a gloomy picture to the conference, warning: 'If Europe doesn't move forward, it can only retreat.'

Though others at the conference did not share his despondency or his preference for Maastricht, the event was marked by concern about the European Community's relationship with eastern Europe and Russia. The end of the Cold War also meant there was a danger that the alliance between Europe and America would be weakened, several participants pointed out. General Colin Powell, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned that just because the were no more 'godless commies' did not mean that new threats should be invented. Hanging over the conference was the fate of Maastricht; new opinion polls in France show that support has surged.

A survey released yesterday indicated that 59 per cent of voters who have made up their minds will vote yes - the largest majority for more than a month. But the poll, by Louis Harris, showed 30 per cent still undecided. A separate one, by the French pollsters CSA, found a balance of 53-47 for the 'yes' vote.