Partners condemn Britain's stance

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THE reaction from across Europe to Britain's stance has been unanimous: it risks preventing the entry of new members, it is damaging to the European Union and it will not work.

The Danish Prime Minister, Poul Nyrup Rasmussen: 'Denmark cannot and will not accept that the enlargement to the north is put in danger by Britain's incomprehensible insistence on an obsolete set of rules.

'We cannot accept it also because a successful enlargement to the north is an absolute condition for the EU to fulfil the next, decisive task: the integration of the new democracies in Central and Eastern Europe. Europe's future is at stake, no more, no less'.

Theodore Pangalos, Greek Deputy Foreign Minister: 'If we have no agreement on institutions, many more things than enlargement will be in jeopardy.'

Dick Spring, Irish Foreign Minister: 'I don't think that there is much of a concession to be given, quite frankly.'

Alain Lamassoure, French European Affairs Minister: 'The final result is not in doubt. The sooner they realise it the better.'