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Thursday, 28 September, 2000, 22:46 GMT 23:46 UK
Analysis: What next for Europe?
Poul Nyrup Rasmussen
Poul Nyrup Rasmussen had campaigned hard
By Europe correspondent James Rodgers

After a campaign which went first the way of the "yes" voters, and then the way of their opponents, this was going to be a close vote.

The Danish Prime Minister, Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, had campaigned hard for a "yes". In conceding defeat, he said that it was bitter after such hard work.

He had spent the last day before polling handing out roses to passers-by in the centre of Copenhagen.

It was an attempt to win over the "undecideds", whom analysts had predicted would hold the key to victory for either side.

In the end, flowers weren't enough.

Political factors were key

This was a referendum about more than just the Euro.

It was the sixth time that the Danes had been asked to vote on their relationship with the rest of Europe.

Poul Nyrup Rasmussen
Mr Rasmussen seemed doubtful of victory
As before, concerns about the loss of sovereignty involved in closer integration - and not just about giving up the krone - seem to have been the driving force behind the "no" vote.

Denmark has a population of just 5 million, but Danes' decision to reject the single currency will have consequences throughout the European Union.

Further referenda

This is the first country in which membership of the Euro has been put to the popular vote.

Danish voter
Denmarks rejection will affect referenda in other countries
Britain and Sweden are also due to hold referenda on membership, but neither country has yet set a date.

However, Denmark's "no" is expected to make a "yes" in either country less likely in the near future.

This raises the prospect of the European Union operating on two levels: with Denmark, Britain, and Sweden outside a Euro zone made up of the other twelve members.

This "two speed" Europe could hold less appeal for applicant countries, frustrating plans for expansion of the Union.

Nor will a "no" help the Euro, which has already lost more than a quarter of its value since its launch in January last year.

Voters cautious

In the end, the "undecideds" appear to have decided not to take a risk.

Rodin's Thinker on cover of 'Politiken' magazine
The Danish press has agonised over the issue
But some who voted "no" suggested they might vote "yes" in a future, second, referendum, if they felt conditions were different.

As Hans Jorgen Nielsen, Professor of Political Science at Copenhagen University concluded: "Most Danes want to remain in the European Union."

"At the same time as they oppose any supra-national Shakespeare's Hamlet, they want to be, and not to be."

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