Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 25 October 2014

Clegg to host European liberals

Nick Clegg aims to re-engage with European as he hosts several liberals from other EU governments

Nick Clegg will bid to re-engage Britain with EU partners in the wake of David Cameron's Brussels treaty veto when he hosts a summit of liberal allies from across Europe.

Among those due to attend are Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte, Olli Rehn, the European Commissioner for economic and monetary affairs, and German economy minister Philipp Roesler.

Mr Clegg said it will set out "an ambitious agenda for reform" to promote economic growth ahead of the next EU summit at a "vital point" in the EU's history.

Aides said the senior politicians, including UK Cabinet ministers, would focus on growth and the economy - but debate seems certain also to focus on Britain's future role in Europe.

The coalition was rocked when Mr Cameron refused to sign up to a new EU-wide fiscal treaty in December, leaving the UK isolated in a manner Mr Clegg warned was "bad for Britain".

He told Tory eurosceptics at the time he would not allow any further retreat to the margins and would instead "redouble our efforts" to fully re-engage.

Speaking ahead of Monday's meeting at Admiralty House, Mr Clegg said: "Europe is at a vital point in its history and the crucial thing for us to do is concentrate on economic growth.

"That's why I'm hosting a meeting of my liberal colleagues from parties in government across Europe to focus on the only credible path out of the current crisis, creating jobs and boosting competitiveness.

"We will be using this opportunity to set out an ambitious agenda for reform which will help set the stage for the discussions at the next European summit."

Mr Cameron on Sunday sought to play down concerns that Britain would end up excluded from decisions affecting the single market under a new treaty being thrashed out in Brussels, saying the agreement states "very, very clearly" that it does not supersede existing EU treaties, and so the UK interest is protected.

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