Monday 18 December 2017

Growth is key say David Cameron and Jose Manuel Barroso

Geoff Meade

BRITISH Prime Minister David Cameron and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso today agreed on the need to safeguard the interests of business in the single market - a key UK concern if eurozone countries form a breakaway "inner circle".

A joint statement issued after breakfast talks in Brussels said the two men discussed "economic and political developments in the European Union" and the stability of the euro area.

Mr Cameron is concerned that any moves by core eurozone countries to forge ahead with an "inner circle" would leave the UK marginalised.

Today's statement said: "President Barroso and Prime Minister Cameron agreed on the importance of prioritising the decisive action needed to ensure the stability of the euro area as well as fast-tracking measures to stimulate growth and jobs.

"They both underlined the central importance of further developing the single market to deliver its full growth potential in the interests of businesses and citizens across the Union and especially to help small and medium sized enterprises."

Mr Cameron stopped off at EU Commission headquarters in Brussels on his way to Berlin in a bid to head off moves towards a formal "two-speed" Europe.

At talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel he will try to diffuse rising Anglo-German tensions over British refusal to back a new tax on bank transactions to help regulate financial markets, and over Germany's insistence on a treaty change to reinforce eurozone financial discipline.

But first he was welcomed for a very diplomat breakfast by Mr Barroso - British-style eggs and bacon were served alongside continental croissants in a culinary display of European harmony.

The agreed statement released afterwards said: "They discussed a range of topics, including the most recent economic and political developments in the European Union. They also exchanged views on the forthcoming European Council scheduled for December 9, 2011."

The views they exchanged were not specified, but Mr Cameron is frustrated that Mr Barroso is pushing for the "financial transactions tax" despite acknowledging, on the Commission's own figures, that it would cost 500,000 jobs.

Britain says the fall-out would hit the City of London hardest and drive financial business out of Europe.

But today he is up against determination to bring in the tax to help re-coup the costs of eurozone bailouts and demonstrate that taxpayers alone are not carrying the burden of the crisis.

Mr Barroso, followed by European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and then Mrs Merkel, will warn that if necessary the 17 eurozone countries will go ahead with the tax without the rest.

Mr Cameron insists Britain will not join in unless such a tax applies globally, to ensure a level playing field for financial services.

After leaving Mr Barroso, the PM moved across to the offices of Mr Van Rompuy, who will chair next month's summit for further talks about the agenda and the next moves to keep the eurozone - and the rest of the European Union - solvent.

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