Britain's Hague says no 'two-speed' Europe

9th December 2011, Comments 0 comments

Britain's decision to block changes to the European Union treaty to tackle the eurozone crisis will not lead to a "two-speed" Europe, Foreign Secretary William Hague said Friday.

Hague said European powers led by France and Germany had made "nothing like enough of an effort" to meet British concerns over its financial services sector, but denied that London was now isolated.

"I don't accept at all the idea of a two-speed Europe," Hague told BBC television.

"One could debate who would move at a faster speed, and certainly no one should make the assumption that the eurozone moves at a faster speed than the United Kingdom.

"We are, by preventing a new treaty or amendments to the treaties of the European Union, ensuring that the key decisions that affect us, such as to do with the single market, are still made by the 27 nations including us."

At a summit overnight in Brussels, 23 EU nations including the 17 that use the euro agreed to sign an accord to make greater fiscal discipline legally binding.

Cameron blocked EU-wide changes after failing to secure a concession of a halt in ongoing EU efforts to curb the City of London's huge financial services sector.

Speaking on BBC radio, Hague insisted that the 23 nations signed up to the accord would not be able to use EU institutions to help the euro without the approval of the full EU 27.

"A treaty made outside the European Union cannot undercut or override the treaties of the European Union," he said.

The EU had made "nothing like enough of an effort to meet those concerns" expresssed by Cameron.

"I don't use the word isolated on this subject because would we want in the United Kingdom to be part of an arrangement where we give up more of our sovereignty and power? No we don't.

"We are not separating ourselves from the EU."

© 2011 AFP

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