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Cameron defiant on UK interests

David Cameron has insisted he would take action to defend British national interests in Europe if a new fiscal deal between other member states threatens UK powers.

After an EU summit deal on a new treaty provision to tighten eurozone discipline, the Prime Minister moved to counter eurosceptic fears that his opposition is weakening.

At the last EU summit in December, Mr Cameron caused fury by vetoing a 27-nation treaty. He then warned that any changes the others made under their alternative fiscal pact - excluding Britain - could not use EU institutions such as the Commission and EU court because they could only carry out policies applying to all 27.

At the latest talks, Mr Cameron did not try to push his case against using the institutions, but warned: "We will only take action if our national interests are threatened - and I made clear that we will be watching this closely."

The Prime Minister said: "They (the other member states) have agreed on a new treaty focused on tighter fiscal discipline which we agree is essential. Now this is a totally separate treaty - because we vetoed an EU treaty in December. We're not signing this treaty. We're not ratifying it. And it places no obligations on the UK.

"But, as I said in December, this is new territory: it has only been agreed today (Monday). It has yet to be ratified or implemented."

Mr Cameron said he had "a number of legal concerns" about what the others had agreed, adding: "That's why I reserved the UK position on it."

He explained: "We don't want to hold up the eurozone doing what is necessary to solve the crisis as long as it doesn't damage our national interests, so it's good that the new treaty states clearly that it cannot encroach upon the competences of the Union and that they must not take measures that undermine the EU single market."

The president of the European Council, Herman van Rompuy, said 25 of the 27 EU members would be signing the pact at the next summit in March. The Czech Republic has not yet made up its mind and remains outside the pact, with Britain.

However Mr Cameron said jobs and growth had to be the top issue for EU leaders, adding: "Growth must be the number one priority every time we meet. My message to other leaders was to be bold and decisive. European Union action should match the ambition we are showing back home."


From Belfast Telegraph