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George Osborne seeking protection for non-eurozone countries in EU law

Britain wants binding principles enshrined in European Union law to ensure that companies based in member-states which do not use the euro do not face discrimination, Chancellor George Osborne has revealed.

And he will use a high-profile speech in Germany to insist on safeguards to ensure that taxpayers of countries which are not in the euro are never required to foot the bill for bailing out single currency members which get into trouble.

Mr Osborne will say that Britain wants protections to ensure the integrity of the single market and the interests of non-euro members as the eurozone area becomes more closely integrated.

The measures form a key part of the safeguards for non-eurozone states which the Chancellor has previously said are "the single most important issue" in the current renegotiation of Britain' s EU membership before the in/out referendum promise by the end of 2017.

His comments come ahead of the publication by Prime Minister David Cameron of a detailed shopping list of UK demands in the renegotiation, promised for early November.

In a keynote speech to German business organisation the BDI in Berlin on Tuesday, Mr Osborne will say: "We want Britain to remain in a reformed European Union, but it needs to be a European Union that works better for all the citizens of Europe - and works better for Britain too."

And he will add: "What we seek are principles embedded in EU law and binding on EU institutions that safeguard the operation of the Union for all 28 member states.

"The principles must support the integrity of the European Single Market.

"That includes the recognition that the EU has more than one currency and we should not discriminate against any business on the basis of the currency of the country in which they reside.

"The principles must ensure that as the eurozone chooses to integrate it does so in a way that does not damage the interests of non-euro members.

"There will be cases where non-euro members want to participate in developments like the banking union. But that participation must be voluntary, and never compulsory.

"We must never let taxpayers in countries that are not in the euro bear the cost for supporting countries in the eurozone."

Setting out the UK's case for ending the requirement for EU members to sign up to "ever-closer union", Mr Osborne will say that while many in countries like Germany are "comfortable" with the idea, it is now supported by only a "tiny proportion" of Britons.

"Remain or leave... is the question our democracy has demanded we put because, quite frankly, the British people do not want to be part of an ever-closer union," the Chancellor is expected to say.

"We want Britain to remain in a reformed European Union, but it needs to be a European Union that works better for all the citizens of Europe - and works better for Britain too.

"It needs to be a Europe where we are not part of that ever-closer union you are more comfortable with."

Mr Osborne will say: "In the UK, where this is widely interpreted as a commitment to ever-closer political integration, that concept is now supported by a tiny proportion of voters.

"I believe it is this that is the cause of some of the strains between Britain and our European partners.

"Ever closer union is not right for us any longer."

Securing backing from Germany is crucial to the success of the plans to renegotiate Britain's relationship with the European Union and Mr Cameron has keenly courted support from Chancellor Angela Merkel.


From Belfast Telegraph