EMU plan gains more currency

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OPPOSITION TO the European single currency in Britain has fallen below 50 per cent, according to an EU survey. Those hostile to the euro now make up 49 per cent of the population, a 10-point drop in six months.

More than a third of those questioned in the UK now back economic and monetary union, a five-point increase. The trend in Britain reflects growing support for the project throughout Europe. Within the EU it is now backed by 60 per cent, a nine-point increase from the last such survey. Among the 11 countries that will participate in the launch in in January, the figure rises to 66 per cent. The findings, welcomed by the European Commission, will hearten advocates of EMU ahead of a big publicity campaign in Britain next month.

They also call into question the tactics of William Hague, leader of the opposition, in balloting his party members in support of a policy of ruling out membership for the lifetime of the next parliament.

Support is strongest in Italy at 83 per cent, but in Austria, Finland and Germany backing for the project now exceeds 50 per cent for the first time.