Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

PM wins 'no Greek bailout' battle

David Cameron said Britain will not be part of a second massive financial bailout for Greece (AP)
Prime Minister David Cameron arrives for an EU summit in Brussels (AP)

Prime Minister David Cameron has won his battle to keep Britain out of a second financial bailout for Greece.

Confirmation came after late-night talks at an EU leaders' summit in Brussels.

Summit chairman Herman Van Rompuy emerged to announce that, as with the first 110 billion euro lifeline to Greece last year, a desperately needed second rescue package due to be agreed in the autumn will not involve any commitment from non-eurozone countries, including the UK.

Germany had signalled it expected all member states to share the burden of what is likely to be another aid programme worth at least another 110 billion euro.

But earlier this week, aware of the potential domestic outcry if Britain had to stump up billions for Greece, Chancellor George Osborne told fellow EU finance ministers at talks in Luxembourg that the UK did not expect to be called upon.

Flying to the summit for talks over dinner, Mr Cameron reinforced the message, saying that the UK wants to see a healthy single currency - but one which deals with its problems within the club of 17 eurozone member states.

When the eurozone suffers, the UK suffers, Mr Cameron acknowledged, and the UK will fulfil its financial obligations as a contributor to any International Monetary Fund support for the troubled Greek economy - to the tune of about one billion euro in loan guarantees.

But he said the UK government should not be expected to prop up Greece via a European Financial Stability Mechanism which commits all 27 member states to provide loan guarantees to a fellow member state in economic difficulties.

Summit officials said that pushing the issue to the brink and trying to force the UK into a bailout - even though a qualified majority vote of the 27 leaders could push it through - would be too divisive.

A Downing Street source commented: "This is the right outcome for the British taxpayer."

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