Copenhagen, 8 April 1997 (RFE/RL) - A leading Danish politician has said that a failure by the European Union to realize its scheduled 1999 monetary union will result in a new impasse which will likely delay or altogether derail the 15-nation group's planned expansion to the East.
Marianne Jelved, leader of the left-of-center Radical Left party, also spoke yesterday of Denmark's coming referendum on approving the new Union treaty expected to emerge from the EU's current Inter-Governmental Conference (IGC). The IGC, which is mandated to make new basic EU internal reforms, is due to conclude its work by the end of June.
The Danish referendum on the new treaty is expected to be held either late this autumn or early next spring. Danish law dictates that any changes in binding EU policies be submitted to public approval in referenda.
Jelved, whose party is a part of Denmark's minority coalition government, made her remarks at a Copenhagen conference for international journalists. She is quoted today by the daily "Politiken."
Most political parties in Denmark, including the Radical Left, officially support greater EU integration, but popular sentiment about the Union is divided. In a 1992 referendum, Danes narrowly rejected the Maastricht Treaty that turned the former European Community into today's Union.
The rejection was widely seen as the start of a serious crisis in the EU. A few months later, a referendum in France -- one of the EU's founding states -- approved the Maastricht Treaty only by a slim majority. The following year, again by a narrow margin, Danes finally approved Maastricht in a second referendum.
Jelved said yesterday that if Danes reject the new Union treaty, as they did first time with Maastricht, prospects for Eastern countries becoming EU members would be severely diminished. She called on her country's "Euro-skeptical" parties, which oppose further internal EU integration, to explain to the country's citizens the possible consequences of another Danish "No" to the new EU Treaty. .
Jelved's views are shared by a Danish Conservative politician, Frank Dahlgaard, well-known for his opposition to further EU internal integration. Dahlgaard, whose party is in opposition to the Government, says that he and other Euro-skeptics throughout the Union who support EU expansion now face a real dilemma: A 'No' to more integration, he explains, now also means a 'No' to enlargement to East.