Letter: On the winning side in Europe

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The Independent Online
Sir: The Government's stance on the issue of 23 or 27 'negative' votes in the EU's Council of Ministers is raising a few wry smiles in the business community to whom so much has been promised from the European market. The fact is the European programme for harmonisation of product standards (CEN) has, for very many years, allowed the 12 Community countries, plus six Efta countries, to use a weighted majority system that allows 23 negative votes (out of a total of 96) to block proposals.

Whether one is content with systems of qualified majority voting is more than anything else a question of attitude and commitment. If, as is the case in our industry, you have taken a leading role and are anxious to press home proposals that promote your future, then the last thing you want is for a few minor players - who have not contributed much to the discussions - to be able to foul things up at the last minute with a small collection of negative votes.

It is time for the Government to display the same confidence as British business, to be positive and to show a belief that, when necessary, we have the ability to muster support from our European partners on specific issues. Let us leave the mathematics to the faint-hearted.

Yours faithfully,



British Woodworking Federation

London, W1

17 March