Block on EU treaty change 'tough but good' decision: Cameron

9th December 2011, Comments 1 comment

British Prime Minister David Cameron said Friday he took a "tough but good" decision to block a change to the EU treaty presented by France and Germany as the way to resolve the eurozone debt crisis.

"Where we can't be given safeguards, it is better to be on the outside," Cameron told a news conference after demands termed "unacceptable" by French President Nicolas Sarkozy. "It was a tough decision, but a good one."

"I said before coming to Brussels that if I couldn't get adequate safeguards for Britain in a new EU treaty then I wouldn't agree to it. What is on offer isn't in Britain interests, so I didn't agree to it," said the prime minister.

Amid fears Britain could be sidelined by his decision not to go ahead with the closer integration signed up by 23 other EU countries, Cameron said he had insisted that European institutions would continue to work for all 27 members.

And after reports of fierce clashes with France, Cameron did not deny that the differences between those that have adopted the euro and those have not has resulted in some discord.

"The decisions taken here tonight all flow from one thing: the fact there is a single currency in Europe: the euro. Britain is out of it and will remain out of it," Cameron pledged.

"Other countries are in it and are happy to make radical changes, giving up sovereignty to try and make it work. The difference between the ins and the outs ... has inevitably created some tensions within the EU," he added.

Unable to convince his peers that Britain should be given veto power over any changes to financial regulation that could affect the powerful City of London, Cameron said he would not sign up to an EU-wide treaty change.

The result, said EU president Herman Van Rompuy, was that the eurozone 17, plus six others, had decided to go ahead without the others.

Along with Britain, Hungary decided against joining the group. Sweden and the Czech Republic said they had to consult their parliaments before making a decision.

Sweden's foreign minister Carl Bildt joked on Twitter: "Worried that Britain is starting to drift away from Europe in a serious way. To where? In a strong alliance with Hungary."

© 2011 AFP

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