Prime Minister Tony Blair said Thursday that Britain believes it has sufficient support among its European Union partners to block a proposal for the workweek to be limited to a maximum of 48 hours.
The European Parliament on Tuesday voted to abolish loopholes that allow member states to opt out of the 48-hour limit. Britain says such an imposed limit would stifle its competitiveness.
"I have no intention whatever of abolishing our opt out," Blair told a news conference. "We actually believe we have a blocking minority.
"I think the vote is wrong, it's completely misguided," he said. "The competition that Europe's economies face from the emerging economies of the world ... means that we simply cannot afford to give up our flexibility."
The measure still needs backing from EU governments to become law, and British officials hope they will get sufficient support - in particular from Eastern Europe - to block the proposal.
The choice of the city of Helsinki is not incidental as the capital of Finland had hosted US-Soviet negotiations on the limitation of nuclear stockpiles in 1969