EC in desperate bid to rescue treaty

December 12, 1992|By Los Angeles Times

EDINBURGH, Scotland -- With the prospect of a politically united Europe fading fast, European Community leaders made a last desperate effort yesterday to rescue the treaty they signed one year ago in the Dutch town of Maastricht.

On the first day of a two-day summit, the leaders reported uncertain progress toward resolving their immediate predicament: how to get Denmark, whose voters rejected the Maastricht Treaty in June, back on board.

"There might be no deal," warned Danish Foreign Minister Uffe Ellemann-Jensen.

The leaders also remained deeply divided over other issues, particularly future transfers of funds from the EC's richer members to its poorer nations.

The uncertainty at the EC summit contributed to a day of new turmoil on Europe's currency markets. Three EC currencies -- the French franc, the Danish krone and the Irish pound -- came under heavy selling pressure. The French and German central banks bought large amounts of French francs in an effort to prop up its value.

Europe's currency crisis, which reached its peak in September when Britain and Italy pulled out of the system of fixed exchange rates linking EC currencies, was not on the agenda of the leaders of the 12 EC countries. Instead, the summit was dominated by internal issues, particularly the Danish question.

EC rules require that the Maastricht Treaty, which would provide a single EC currency by 1999 and establish procedures for setting common EC foreign and defense policies, be ratified by all 12 EC members. But Danish voters last June said no.

At the summit, EC leaders discussed formulas for amending the treaty to allow Denmark to exempt itself from some of its major provisions: a single currency, a common defense policy and a common citizenship for citizens of all EC nations.

Denmark demanded that the formula be legally binding. Anything less, Mr. Ellemann-Jensen said, would not get the needed support of a majority of Danish voters.

But other EC nations insist that the solution to the Danish problem cannot be a new treaty so different from the old one that it requires a second ratification.

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