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EU: If Britain goes, it goes alone

Europe Minister says Denmark will not follow Britain.

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If Britain chooses to opt-out of parts of its EU involvement, it will leave the table alone, with none of the other 26 EU countries following it out of the door, Denmark’s Europe Minister Nicolai Wammen told the international press today.

While Denmark supported a flexible approach to the speed of the European Union, with euro countries taking the necessary steps to bring the euro economies back on track, Wammen said Britain had adopted a different approach.

“They have made it clear that they want to opt out of parts of what they are participating in right now in the European Union,” Wammen told reporters at the Copenhagen International Press Centre.

“If Britain chooses to leave the table in some of these areas, then it is Britain’s choice. I also however have to be very clear that if they walk out of some of those rooms, they will walk out of them alone,” the Europe Minister said, adding Denmark would not follow suit.

“We do not see the path for Denmark to go in reverse when it comes to EU membership. We want to be an active partner, and in some areas if we believe it will be in the interest of Denmark we are ready to take further steps towards EU integration,” Wammen said.

But he added that the centre-left government currently had no plans for referenda on Denmark’s opt-outs to European cooperation, although Denmark would at some point seek to opt in to two of them – that of judicial affairs and defence.

At the same time, Wammen repeated Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt’s recent statement that Denmark will veto the EU’s budget if it is not given a EUR150million rebate.

“This is a red line for Denmark. I am confident that there is an understanding of the Danish view. We pay EUR4 (ED: in net contributions per capita) while other similar countries pay EUR3,” Wammen said, adding that Denmark expected agreement on the budget during the current month.

“We would like to see a Europe without any rebates at all. But we do not see that as a realistic scenario, and as rebates will continue, Denmark is demanding its rebate of DKK1billion,” he added.

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