Danes asked to consider striking new deal with EC

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The Independent Online
COPENHAGEN - The opposition Social Democrats, Denmark's largest party, said yesterday the country should strive for a new arrangement with Europe following its 'No' vote to the Maastricht treaty on European union. The party said Denmark should be excluded from joint European defence and a planned shared currency and Central Bank.

The Social Democrats said the arrangement must respect Denmark's rejection of the Maastricht treaty in a referendum in June and insisted that the other 11 EC members could not carry through the pact without Denmark. The party's leader, Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, said Denmark should have no obligations concerning plans for a joint European citizenship.

The Social Democratic Party, crucial to any Danish agreement with the EC because of its 69 seats in the 179-seat parliament, is the first Danish party to outline its views on how to solve the problem created by the rejection of the treaty. The party campaigned for the treaty in the referendum although 60 per cent of its members eventually voted against it.

The other 11 EC states agreed after the Danish vote they would forge ahead with ratification of the treaty and ruled out any renegotiation of the text. But both Mr Rasmussen and the Danish centre-right minority government pointed out this week that the pact cannot come into force without the signatures of all 12 member states.

Some EC members, particularly Germany and Britain, have indicated they want to accommodate Denmark. Additions to the treaty giving Denmark a special status might be acceptable to both the EC and the Danish electorate.

But the Social Democratic proposal, which appeared to reject much of the content of the Maastricht treaty, was unlikely to offer an easy solution. It expressed reservations about the pact's provisions for co-operation in legal and police matters and stressed Danish sovereignty over its social affairs policies. The party did, however, want Denmark to participate in EC environmental, labour and consumer regulations.

The Prime Minister, Poul Schluter, said on Sunday his country would probably hold a new referendum in the first half of 1993 in which Danes would vote on an unspecified 'new, different basis' for the country's relations with the EC. The Danish government is preparing a white paper outlining Denmark's options for all-party discussions before a proposal is submitted to the Community late this year or in 1993. 'It is quite possible that it will end with the addition of a few Danish protocols to the Maastricht treaty. We will have to wait and see,' the Foreign Minister, Uffe Ellemann-Jensen, was quoted as saying this week.