Eurogroup chief rejects British financial demands

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Eurogroup chief Jean-Claude Juncker said on Thursday that he opposed demands by Britain for protection of its financial services ahead of a crucial EU summit on saving the euro.

"I will not accept that when it comes to financial services, Britain reserves rights and freedom of action for itself that others will not have," Juncker, the prime minister of Luxembourg who heads the group of eurozone finance ministers, told France Info radio.

His comments came after British Prime Minister David Cameron threatened to veto any EU treaty change if Britain does not receive "safeguards" from its European Union partners, particularly for the City of London financial services hub.

Juncker said that if it were impossible for a deal to be reached with all 27 EU members, the 17-member eurozone would go it alone.

"If ever within the 27 there are countries which do not want to accompany us in looking for this better architecture, we will reach a deal within the 17," he said.

"If we can't build anything solid within the 27, better to build something solid within the 17," he said.

At the summit opening later on Thursday, European Union leaders will begin what is widely described as the last chance effort to save the eurozone from its debt crisis. They will examine a Franco-German plan to amend EU treaties to impose tough budget discipline and streamline decision-making.

© 2011 AFP

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