Britain may give up its EU veto on home affairs

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Europe's heads of government will be asked next month to weaken their hold over cross-border police and judicial co-operation in a move that could herald a new era of European integration.

The plan, to be debated at a summit in June, is designed to show the EU can shake off the political paralysis caused by the French and Dutch rejections of the European constitution.

The Commission president, Jose Manuel Barroso, said he would use the summit to call for countries to pool more powers in a "large number" of areas of police and judicial co-operation.

Heads of government will be asked to give more say to the European Parliament and are likely to be asked to scrap some, if not all, national vetoes.

The UK backs co-operation on justice and home affairs and has an opt-out which British officials say it would keep. But under the plan the UK would be unable to prevent other nations going ahead with schemes Britain dislikes, which could lead to it being sidelined in some areas.

A British official said: "The UK will not reject this proposal outright. We would like to see more detail and are interested in considering each case on its merits".