PARIS — As Denmark said it will seek changes to the Maastricht Treaty and conduct a new referendum on the accord next year, French President Francois Mitterrand and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl met here Tuesday to seek ways to restart the stalled drive toward European union.
The meeting between Kohl and Mitterrand, shaken by the continuing international monetary crisis, was the first between the two key European leaders since French voters narrowly approved the Maastricht Treaty on political and economic union Sunday in a climate of increasing popular hostility to the creation of a federal European state.
In an interview with German television after meeting with Mitterrand, Kohl said he and the French leader sought ways to make the proposed European super state "more democratic" and to limit the authority of bureaucrats in the European Community capital, Brussels.
In the debate leading to the French referendum Sunday, in which voters approved the Maastricht accord 51% to 49%, treaty opponents claimed it gave too much power to a central European authority and threatened their national identity.
Kohl said Tuesday that European leaders have heard the message of the French voters and that Germany will continue its push to increase the power of the elected European Parliament.
Germany has long favored a stronger elected Parliament, in which it, as the European Community's most populous state, would have the most members. EC members Italy and Belgium also support a stronger role for the Parliament. But Britain and France have generally been opposed, preferring a stronger European Council made up of heads of state from each country.
Reflecting the mood of retrenchment among European leaders after the French vote and the Danish rejection of the treaty in June, Kohl insisted that national identities would not be threatened by the new Europe, saying, "Bavarians can be Germans without losing their identity as Bavarians."
In Denmark, which threw the first monkey wrench into the Maastricht works when voters rejected the treaty June 2, Prime Minister Poul Schlueter said Tuesday that he intends to put the treaty--modified to allay Denmark's fears of an all-powerful EC government--to a second test in 1993.
At his regular press briefing, Schlueter said he has no intent to renegotiate the treaty. His 11 EC partners have ruled out that move, which, as EC Commission President Jacques Delors said Monday, would open a "Pandora's box" of demands for changes.
At the same time, Schlueter said that the treaty must guarantee "less centralism" in the conduct of EC affairs. He suggested making the treaty more specific in requiring that the EC headquarters in Brussels be empowered to act only on matters that cannot be handled more effectively by the 12 national governments. He said that EC institutions also must be made more open to scrutiny by the public.
Schlueter plans to meet with Prime Minister John Major of Britain, which holds the rotating EC presidency, next Wednesday. Major has said he will not seek ratification of the treaty by the British Parliament until Denmark can demonstrate how it plans to reverse the results of its June 2 referendum.
Schlueter said he does not have a specific plan to present next Wednesday. Instead, he said, Denmark will prepare a "white paper" for discussion at the emergency EC summit scheduled for London on Oct. 16. He promised a specific plan in time for the regular, semiannual EC summit in Edinburgh, Scotland, on Dec. 12 and 13.
In other related developments Tuesday:
* Germany announced it is pressing ahead with its parliamentary ratification procedure, with the aim of finishing before the year's end. Spain said it will begin ratification next year.
* Trying to calm the volatile British markets, the Bank of England reduced its base interest rate from 10% to 9% to try to stimulate the ailing British economy in its third year of recession. The move marked a further retreat from the government's previous policy of shoring up the value of the pound. But the pound remained stable in markets, having fallen previously in anticipation of the drop in interest rates.
* The Bank of France had to intervene on foreign exchange markets for the fourth straight day to defend the franc against speculative pressure threatening the European Monetary System. The French Finance Ministry and the German Bundesbank denied market rumors of an imminent revaluation of the mark, which briefly boosted stock and bond prices in Paris.
* In Washington, Michel Camdessus, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, said it would be a mistake for Western nations to continue cutting interest rates to try to stimulate their recessionary economies, and he called instead for efforts to reduce deficits. In remarks at the IMF's annual meeting, he said that further interest-rate reductions could create significant inflationary pressures in countries that already are running large budget deficits.