Britain dismisses 'melodramatic' call for federal eurozone
Calls to change the EU treaty and create what French President Nicolas Sarkozy sees as a "two-speed Europe" anchored in a "federal" eurozone are wildly "melodramatic," the British government's No. 2 said Wednesday.
"People are becoming a bit too melodramatic," Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said while visiting Brussels for talks with European Union president Herman Van Rompuy ahead of a summit next month looking at a German-led bid to rewrite the EU's rulebook.
He had been asked to respond to comments Sarkozy made on Tuesday, when he talked of a "federal" future for the 17-nation euro currency area.
"No-one thinks that federalism, total integration, is possible with 33, 34, 35 countries," the French leader said, referring to enlargement to include for example Balkan states.
"Clearly, there will be a two-speed Europe: one towards greater eurozone integration and another more confederal for the European Union."
Liberal Clegg is the junior coalition partner alongside Prime Minister David Cameron, whose Conservative party is trying to keep down a rebellion that saw scores of MPs vote last month for a referendum on getting out of the EU.
Clegg continued: "To say that the remedy to crisis in the eurozone will, as night follows day, lead to a fracturing of the European Union is in my view a prediction based on nothing more than either outright pessimism -- or hope, depending on your ideological point of view."
Cameron's foreign minister William Hague has said London could seek to repatriate some powers from Brussels in exchange for upcoming treaty-change negotiations.
Former Euro-MP Clegg compared "a protracted bout of introverted navel-gazing" by the EU over treaty change to standing outside a burning house and "calling for an architect to discuss the plans."
He added: "There are a whole range of options, and I don't think they're quite as hyperbolic in content as many people presently imagine," hitting out at "wild euro-enthusiasts or wild euro-phobes" alike.
Instead, he said the priority should be creating work for the EU's nearly 23 million jobless and called on the EU to appoint a household name as a "single-market 'champion'."
© 2011 AFP