New EU debate around the corner?

Labour Party officials have opened the way for a fresh debate on joining the European Union, but they made it clear they are in no hurry.

Meeting at their national convention, party leaders approved a resolution that said "an application procedure can be started in the next parliamentary period (2001-2005), with the aim of an application earliest in 2005-2006." While the anti-EU wing of the Labour Party interpreted the resolution as forbidding an EU application before 2005, Labour Party Leader Thorbjørn Jagland read it as giving the Labour government full freedom to act on the issue. Both he and Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, who favour EU membership, have pushed for an early reopening of the national debate.