- Associated Press - Friday, December 9, 2011

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union’s president said Friday that 26 of its 27 member countries are open to joining a new treaty tying their finances together to solve the euro crisis. Only Britain remains opposed, creating a deep rift in the union.

In marathon overnight talks, the 17 countries that use the euro gradually persuaded the others to consider joining the new treaty they would create. Some of those countries may face parliamentary opposition to the treaty, which would allow for unprecedented oversight of national budgets.

“Except for one, all are considering participation,” E.U. President Herman Van Rompuy told reporters.

A document released near the end of a high-stakes E.U. summit Friday said the leaders of nine of the 10 E.U. countries that don’t use the euro “indicated the possibility to take part in this process after consulting their parliaments where appropriate.”

In drafting a new treaty, the countries hope to help European nations struggling with giant debts over the long term, and in that sense there were early indications of success. Such an agreement is considered necessary before the European Central Bank and other institutions commit more money to lowering the borrowing costs of heavily indebted countries like Italy and Spain.

“It’s a very good outcome for the euro area, very good,” ECB President Mario Draghi said in Brussels. “It is going to be the basis for much more disciplined economic policy for euro-area members. And certainly it is going to be helpful in the present situation.”

Stocks and the euro climbed on the news of the new treaty, even though it offers only a long-term solution and no immediate salve for a crisis that started in Greece, then plunged the whole eurozone into crisis and now threatens the global economy.

While the deal could help save the euro, the political implications of the rift could be enormous. Germany and France had hoped to persuade all 27 E.U. countries to agree to change the treaty that governs their union. But Britain, which doesn’t use the euro, firmly said no.

Britain’s leaders argued that the revised treaty would threaten their national sovereignty and damage London’s esteemed financial services industry. Germany and France, the eurozone’s biggest economies, made clear that a deal among the 17 euro countries and whoever else wanted to join was better than nothing.

Hungary, the Czech Republic and Sweden said they would need to consult their parliaments, while the other six countries outside the eurozone — Denmark, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Latvia, Lithuania — agreed they wanted to join.

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