Belfast Telegraph

Home News World

Britain alone as EU agrees deal

The European Union says that Britain is now the only one of its 27 member countries not open to joining a new treaty tying their finances together to solve the euro crisis.

In marathon overnight talks, the 17 countries that use the euro gradually persuaded nearly all the others to consider joining the new treaty they would create.

Some of those countries may face parliamentary opposition to the treaty, which would allow for unprecedented oversight of national budgets.

"Except for one, all are considering participation," EU President Herman Van Rompuy told reporters after the Brussels summit ended. "I'm optimistic because I know it is going to be very close to 27."

A document released near the end of a high-stakes EU summit said the leaders of nine of the 10 EU countries that do not use the euro "indicated the possibility to take part in this process after consulting their parliaments where appropriate".

In drafting a new treaty, the countries hope to help European nations struggling with giant debts over the long term. Such an agreement is considered necessary before the European Central Bank and other institutions commit more money to lowering the borrowing costs of heavily indebted countries like Italy and Spain.

Stocks and the euro nevertheless climbed on the news of the new treaty, even though it offers only a long-term solution and no immediate solution for a crisis that started in Greece, then plunged the whole eurozone into crisis and now threatens the global financial system.

While the deal could help save the euro, the political implications of the rift could be enormous. Germany and France had hoped to persuade all 27 EU countries to agree to change the treaty that governs their union. But Britain firmly said no, claiming the revised treaty would threaten their national sovereignty and damage London's financial services industry.

EU leaders expressed disappointment that Britain stayed out, with French President Nicolas Sarkozy blaming the split on David Cameron. He said: "David Cameron made a proposal that seemed to us unacceptable, a protocol to the treaty that would have exonerated the United Kingdom from a great number of financial service regulation."

Mr Cameron defended his stance, saying: "What was on offer is not in Britain's interest so I didn't agree to it. We're not in the euro and I'm glad we're not in the euro. We're never going to join the euro and we're never going to give up this kind of sovereignty that these countries are having to give up."


From Belfast Telegraph