Major puts growth on agenda of EC summit

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The Independent Online
JOHN MAJOR told the Commons yesterday that he had tabled an official EC presidency paper on economic growth for discussion at this weekend's Edinburgh summit.

With the EC balanced on a 'razor's edge' according to Douglas Hurd, the summit's outcome is still in doubt. Agreement on a growth initiative could help to hide underlying disagreements on other issues.

The Prime Minister told MPs that Treasury officials had been touring EC capitals in recent weeks, trying to get agreement on the recovery plan.

Mr Major's office said that the team, led by Sir Nigel Wicks, a Second Permanent Secretary, had also been attempting to hammer out agreement on future financing of the Community - and that Francois Mitterrand, the French President, had agreed to meet Mr Major for a pre-summit dinner tomorrow night.

While the No 10 source said the dinner, arranged during a telephone conversation yesterday, would focus on areas of Anglo- French agreement, it was conceded that the two were by no means agreed on the detail of financing.

There was speculation at Westminster last night that Mr Mitterrand might be looking for financial help in selling a Gatt deal to French farmers.

Mr Major will this morning receive first-hand reports from Norman Lamont, the Chancellor, on the results of the Treasury officials' tour and from the Foreign Secretary on yesterday's Brussels meeting on the Danish question.

The fate of the Maastricht treaty will depend on whether heads of government can agree new British proposals designed to solve the Danish problem.

The Danes are asking for what amount to legally binding opt-outs on the treaty obligations in defence, judicial and interior co-operation, monetary union and citizenship. The EC has insisted that any solution must apply to Denmark only, be time-limited, and require no renegotiation nor reratification.

Resolution of the problem is the pivot on which all else swings. Until the situation is clear, the 12 will not be able to move on the budget.