Letter: Nationalism and the future of the European Union

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The Independent Online
Sir: At least we now have a precise answer to the long-standing interesting question about the Government's attitude to 'widening' and 'deepening' ('Larger EU sparks argument over control', 9 March). Our ministers are prepared to enlarge the European Union only if its internal democracy is weakened.

But the Government's tactics are bizarre. Is it really that much easier to cobble together a blocking minority coalition of two big states plus one small state from a total of 12 than two big states plus two small states from a total of 16? Moreover, is it reasonable to elevate such an arithmetical proposition into a defining moment

of European history? Only in

Byzantium.

Surely it would have been wiser, as the commission suggested at the time, to have taken on board the revision of the council's qualified majority voting procedures during the negotiation of the Maastricht treaty.

For now, two consequences are likely to follow a British veto of democratic deepening in the council. First, public opinion in Scandinavia will wonder whether the EU is really worth joining at all; and, second, the European Parliament may veto the enlargement package. What a pity.

Yours sincerely,

ANDREW DUFF

Director

Federal Trust for Education

and Research

London, SW1

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