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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 September, 2003, 18:36 GMT 19:36 UK
Straw disputes Prodi euro claim
Jack Straw, Foreign Secretary
Mr Straw was responding to Sweden's 'No' vote on the euro
Jack Straw has disputed Romano Prodi's claim that Sweden will lose influence in the EU in the wake a referendum vote rejecting joining the euro.

The foreign secretary said it was "palpably not the case" that staying out of the eurozone meant Sweden's voice would no longer be heard.

European commission president Mr Prodi had said after the vote in Sweden: "If you are not in you are out, it's very simple - you cannot be in and out together."

Mr Straw took the opportunity of a Commons debate on the proposed EU constitution to pay tribute to the work of murdered Swedish counterpart Anna Lindh.

Her death is a complete tragedy, not least and above all for her family
Jack Straw
And he insisted that Sweden had built up "very considerable influence" despite not being a member of the single currency.

Asked about whether Mr Prodi's assertion about Sweden's voice in Europe was correct Mr Straw said: "No, I don't happen to think it's right and I disagree with President Prodi.

"What is obvious is that if you are not a member of the euro you are not a member of the euro group.

"What is far from obvious, and it is a proposition which I resist and I am sure the Swedes resist, is the idea that if you are not a member of the euro therefore you lose influence over every other aspect of European Union policy.

Fatal stabbing

"That is palpably not the case. Sweden was able to exercise very considerable influence within Europe's councils ... because of the strength of the case that it made and the allies it was able to build up and so, I believe, can we."

Mrs Lindh was fatally stabbed while out shopping in Stockholm on Friday. She died a day later.

She had been at the forefront of the 'Yes' campaign in her country.

Anna Lindh
Ms Lindh's murder rocked Sweden
Mr Straw said during her political career she had earned "huge respect in Sweden and beyond its shores".

"Her death is a complete tragedy, not least and above all for her family for she leaves a husband and two children of school age.

"I shall be attending the memorial service in Stockholm this Friday and I know that I will carry with me the sentiments of the whole House in conveying our grief and our condolences to her family, to her friends and to the people of Sweden."

The BBC's Bridget Kendall
"The really tough negotiations have still to happen"

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