Cameron blames 'pointless' EU rules for killing growth

15th November 2011, Comments 0 comments

British Prime Minister David Cameron has attacked "pointless" European Union rules and regulations which he said were holding back growth as the 27-nation bloc battled with the eurozone crisis.

In a hard-hitting foreign policy speech, Cameron called for "fundamental reform" in Europe as he blasted "out-of-touch" EU institutions.

He used his annual address to the Lord Mayor of London's banquet late Monday to lambast talk of "grand plans and utopian visions" and called for an EU with "the flexibility of a network, not the rigidity of a bloc".

Cameron -- who pointedly described himself as among the "sceptics" on Europe -- acknowledged that the first priority for the 27-nation bloc was restoring growth and tackling the debt crisis.

However, he said the crisis also offered a golden opportunity to undertake fundamental reform of the EU.

"It's how out of touch the EU has become when its institutions are demanding budget increases while Europe's citizens tighten their belts. It's the pointless interference, rules and regulations that stifle growth not unleash it," the Conservative prime minister said.

"The sense that the EU is somehow an abstract end in itself, immune from developments in the real world, rather than a means of helping to deliver better living standards for the people of its nations.

"It does not have to be like this."

But Cameron's comments were given short shrift by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, the leader of the pro-Europe Liberal Democrat junior coalition partners.

Clegg said on Tuesday that only "populists, chauvinists and demagogues" would benefit from a fundamental reform of EU treaties.

"Clearly the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats, and David Cameron and myself, think differently on European issues," Clegg said.

"But where we agree is... what do we do to push economic reform and push the liberalisation needed to create jobs and prosperity in the EU?"

Clegg was speaking after talks with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in London.

© 2011 AFP

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