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Thursday, May 28, 1998 Published at 21:11 GMT 22:11 UK

World: Europe

Danes say 'yes' to EU enlargement

Turnout was lower than in Denmark's previous EU polls

Early official results from Denmark say voters have given their approval to the European Union's Amsterdam Treaty, which paves the way for the EU to take in new members from eastern and central Europe.

Finance Minister Mogens Lykketost: "Emotions have been very strong around the campaign" (0'28")
Danes voted 55.1% for the treaty and 44.9% against.

The result, on a relatively low turnout of 75.6% of the four million voters, was in line with opinion polls leading up to the referendum.

The government had urged approval of the treaty.

[ image: Prime Minister Rasmussen has urged people to vote
Prime Minister Rasmussen has urged people to vote "yes"
"It is not a big yes, but it is a clear yes, a Danish yes," the Prime Minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen said.

"Denmark is on track, and will pursue its path in the EU," Mr Rasmussen stressed.

"But if the EU train of European integration begins to roll too quickly, Denmark reserves the right to say stop," he said.

Opponents took the loss as best as they could, noting that nearly half the country still has doubts about European integration.

Drude Dahlerud, Leader of the "No" Campaign: "It is an even larger 'no' than last time" (0'17")
"We are standing strong because the 'no' side remains large," said Keld Albrechtsen of the far-left Unity List which holds five seats in parliament.

Police in Copenhagen, equipped with riot-control gear are on standby should there be a repeat of the street violence which followed an EU referendum "yes" vote five years ago. No incidents were reported early in the evening.

A vital vote for the EU

The BBC's David Eades reports on Denmark's refendum campaigns
Correspondents said a vote for rejection would have thrown the EU into chaos and possibly called into question Denmark's future as a member state.

The Amsterdam Treaty paves the way for expansion of the 15-member union to take in up to 10 new state from central and eastern Europe, plus Cyprus.

[ image: Lutheran clergyman campaigning for
Lutheran clergyman campaigning for "no" vote
It also marks a step towards deeper integration within the EU through greater co-operation on crime, employment, environmental, asylum and refugee issues and in foreign and security policy.

The treaty must be ratified by all the 15 members before it can take effect. Most EU countries have left it to their parliaments to ratify the treaty.

Political commentator Lars Olsen: "Danes have a very mixed relationship with Europe" (1'43")
However, the Danes are obliged to hold a referendum because it involves sovereignty being ceded to European institutions.

In 1992 the Danes rejected the Maastricht Treaty. They approved it a year later after currency and foreign policy safeguards explicitly for Denmark were written in.

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