London: British finance minister George Osborne said on Saturday that euro zone countries had supported their currency by agreeing to draft a new treaty for deeper economic integration, but much work still needed to be done to stabilize it.
Osborne also reiterated Prime Minister David Cameron’s view that Britain was right to opt out of the plan for a fiscal union on Friday because it was not in the UK’s interests.
A file photo of British finance minister George Osborne.
Britain was left isolated as the other 9 EU countries outside the currency bloc said they were prepared to back the 17 euro economies in a new treaty, although some sounded notes of caution.
Asked on BBC Radio whether the euro was safer than 48 hours ago, Osborne replied: “I think things are better than they were because they are now going to coordinate their budget policies in the kind of way that probably was necessary ... but it is a necessary but not sufficient condition of getting the euro to work more effectively.”
He added: “They’ve got to sort out their current problems, which means finding the resources to stand behind the currency and secondly, crucially, we have got to make the whole of Europe much more competitive so our entire continent including this country is not priced out of the world economy.”
Osborne dismissed suggestions Britain would lose influence within the EU after it blocked changes to the existing joint treaty, saying the government had ensured that all 27 members would discuss issues related to the EU’s role as a trading bloc.
“We have protected Britain’s financial services and manufacturing companies that need to be able to trade their products into Europe from the development of euro zone integration spilling over and affecting non-euro members of the EU,” he said.
“If we had signed this treaty ... then we would have found the full force of the European treaties, the European court, the European Commission, all these institutions enforcing those treaties, using that opportunity to undermine Britain’s interests, undermine the single market. We were not prepared to let that happen.”
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