Britain to oppose new EU treaty changes

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

LUXEMBOURG - Britain will oppose any change in European Union treaties that would give more powers to Brussels, officials warned Tuesday, a day after Germany and France said the bloc needed to amend its rulebook to enforce new budget discipline rules.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday that a revision of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty was necessary to introduce a permanent eurozone bailout mechanism, coupled with political sanctions for serious budget sinners.

“We will look closely at what is being proposed, but as … Prime Minister (David Cameron) has made clear, we will not support anything that involves a transfer of powers from Westminster to Brussels,” a British government spokesman indicated.

However, the official stressed that there was no opposition against moves to enforce tougher euro area rules, as “stability in the eurozone is important for Britain”.

The country has a permanent opt-out from the single currency, but any EU treaty change would have to be approved by all its members — a politically toxic process in eurosceptic countries such as Britain.

The last change in the EU’s rulebook — concluded with the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty last December — took almost ten years to complete and condemned the bloc to a lengthy paralysis.

EU finance ministers reached a deal Monday on tighter euro area budget rules, backed by stronger sanctions for countries with excessive debt and deficit levels, after Germany and France previously struck a compromise between themselves.

The arrangement seemed to irk the countries which were left alone in backing the European Commission and the European Central Bank’s calls for fiscal austerity, after Germany bowed to French demands for more “flexibility” in the EU sanctions process.

“I’m surprised that we did not get the 100-percent fiscal discipline from Germany. We could have reached a little bit further,” Swedish Finance Minister Anders Borg said Tuesday.

Filed under: Economy

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