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EU bloc prepared to work around Britain

BRUSSELS, March 1 (UPI) -- Pro-European Union countries have created a contingency plan to proceed even if Britain rejects the draft constitution, The Telegraph said Tuesday.

The draft constitution must be ratified by all 25 EU member states through referendums and parliamentary votes over the next two years. Britain will be one of the last to hold a referendum late next year and opinion polls indicate it will vote for rejection.

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Charles Grant, director of the Center for European Reform think tank, said he has been told by officials from Germany, France and Belgium there are plans for a core of pro-integration states to proceed in a different direction.

They would work on eight or nine chosen goals, such as merging their armed forces and embassies, Grant said. France and Germany would lead the core, inviting Belgium, Luxembourg, and other pro-integration EU states to join them, making Britain much less relevant.

The plan also calls for harmonization of criminal and civil law, the establishment of a European criminal court and tax harmonization and a single seat for core countries in international financial institutions.

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