EC Summit: German joy as EC steams ahead

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The Independent Online
BERLIN - German politicians hailed the summit as a triumph of diplomacy and a victory for all 12 EC states. Chancellor Helmut Kohl said that the meeting had sent out a 'clear signal of faith in the future', while Klaus Kinkel, the Foreign Minister, said the 'European train' was now 'steaming ahead'.

Mr Kohl said the most important agreement reached concerned the decision to set up a cohesion fund aimed at providing more financial help to the Community's poorer regions. Germany would have to make considerable contributions to the fund but this would be counter- balanced by payments to the country's former Communist east, he said. Both the Chancellor and Mr Kinkel voiced satisfaction over the formula devised to bring Denmark fully back on board following its rejection of the Maastricht treaty in a referendum earlier this year.

'The fate of European unity now lies in the hands of Denmark and Great Britain,' said Mr Kinkel, expressing confidence that the voters of Denmark would say 'yes' to Maastricht in a new referendum next year and that the treaty would then be ratified in the British parliament.

A government source also used Mr Kinkel's train analogy: 'We have always said we wanted the train of European unity to proceed with all 12 member states and think this offers the Danes a perfect opportunity to jump back on board. Once the Danes agree, there should be no problem with Britain.'

German sources also expressed satisfaction that EC leaders, in addition to addressing the problems of Denmark and Community financing, had agreed that Germany should have an extra 18 members in the European parliament (to represent its eastern regions) and that next year would see concrete negotiations with the countries of the European Free Trade Association concerning their Community membership.

'I think everybody came away from Edinburgh more or less satisfied,' the government source said. 'The expectation to reach agreements was very high and in some ways the summit was condemned to success. But if you look at what was agreed, everyone got something.' Although the source insisted there was understanding for John Major's difficulties getting Maastricht ratified and that no deadline had been imposed on Britain, Germany remained determined to see the treaty approved - and then implemented - by all member states by the middle of next year.

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