Saturday

23rd Feb 2019

Sarkozy tells Cameron to 'shut up' on eurozone

  • Cameron (l) reportedly kept his cool despite Sarkozy's (r) bad-tempered tone (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

Tensions between Paris and London flared up on Sunday (23 October) amid crisis talks on the eurozone, as President Nicolas Sarkozy of France hit out at British criticisms of the single currency.

"You have lost a good opportunity to shut up,” the Guardian, a UK paper, reports the French leader as telling UK Prime Minister David Cameron.

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"We are sick of you criticising us and telling us what to do. You say you hate the euro and now you want to interfere in our meetings."

The row centred on concerns by the UK leader that decisions taken solely by the eurozone members would have impact on the single market shared by all 27 euro and non-euro using members of the European Union.

The reported bust-up caused an hour-and-a-half delay to a joint press conference between Sarkozy and German Chancelllor Angela Merkel mid-afternoon.

In the end, the EU leaders reached a compromise that all 27 will first discuss the comprehensive eurozone crisis response package at a subsequent summit in Brussels on Wednesday, but that the eurozone chiefs themselves will have the last word on the matters at their own separate meeting immediately afterward.

"We must safeguard the interests of countries that want to stay outside the euro, particularly with respect to the integrity of the single market for all 27 countries of the EU," Cameron later told reporters in his own press briefing, explaining but downplaying the exchange.

"This crisis means that greater fiscal and economic integration in the euro zone is inevitable, but this must not be at the expense of Britain's national interest."

Herman Van Rompuy, the EU Council President later obliquely referenced the row and echoing Cameron's words regarding a "safeguarding" of the interests of all 27 states.

"The 27 are the basis of our prosperity. We must keep the two types of decision making as close as possible," he told reporters.

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In a reminder to jittery markets about how difficult decisions for the eurozone don't just need to be taken but also implemented, European Commission president Barroso has said Sunday's summit will not necessarily draw a line under the eurozone's crisis.

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Eurosceptic Conservative MPs are expected to test the authority of British Prime Minister David Cameron on Tuesday when the House of Commons debates a European Union Bill, designed to prevent the transfer of powers to Brussels without a national referendum first taking place.

Non-euro finance ministers discuss approach to crisis

Finance ministers from the 10 EU countries outside the eurozone gathered on Monday night for an "informal dinner" in Brussels. The meeting, highlighting the rift between the 'ins' and the 'outs', took place in parallel to a euro meeting.

Sarkozy: UK decision has created 'two Europes'

The results of last week's summit shows that there are now two Europes, French President Nicolas Sarkozy has said, following a deal that saw Britain as the only member state refuse to take part in a fiscal pact.

UK referendum vote highlights anti-EU feeling

British MPs have voted against a referendum on EU membership. But Prime Minister David Cameron indicated he will try to claw back EU powers in an upcoming review of the Treaty.

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