'Euro-outs' hold crisis talks
FINANCE ministers from the 10 EU countries not in the eurozone held a private dinner in Brussels last night, at the same time that eurozone ministers held talks on the debt crisis.
It's the third time that the 10 "euro-outs", as the group is being dubbed, have met on the night before a meeting of the Ecofin group of all 27 finance ministers.
The dinners are the brainchild of Sweden's charismatic finance minister Anders Borg.
He hosted the first dinner in October, his Czech counterpart hosted the second event and the Danes are understood to have held last night's.
There is no set agenda for the dinner, but there is a tacit understanding that it can help the 10 non-euro ministers find common ground and share ideas before they sit down with the euro 17 that tend to dominate the EU agenda.
The "non-euros" are a more mixed group than the 17 euro members. All are EU members but they range from the UK and Sweden that are happy to be outside the euro, and Denmark which is outside the euro but keeps a currency peg, to Poland, Latvia and the Czech Republic, which aspire to someday joining the single currency.
Regardless of their attitude to the currency, all 10 are excluded from the meeting of eurozone finance ministers that always takes place the day before a full Ecofin council summit.
This has been a source of frustration because in practice it means ministers find themselves arriving half-way through a two-day summit. Dinners like last night's are clearly aimed at ending that frustration.
They may already be proving effective. At the most recent Ecofin on October 9 the non euro's teamed up to block a European Commission proposal for an EU wide financial transactions tax, in what looked like an orchestrated move.