EU 'discussing changes to treaty', UK PM says

  • 23 October 2011
  • From the section Business
  • comments
Media captionDavid Cameron: "Greater fiscal and economic integration in the eurozone is inevitable"

UK Prime Minister David Cameron has discussed changes to the European Union's treaty as part of a package to resolve the eurozone debt crisis.

Speaking after European leaders held emergency talks, Mr Cameron said that any change would not be against UK interests.

He gave no details of any changes being considered at the Brussels summit, attended by all 27 heads of EU states.

Another meeting of all the EU countries will be held on Wednesday.

Initially only the 17 countries that use the euro were to meet on Wednesday.

The EU leaders held a summit on Sunday morning amid fears that problems in Greece threaten to spread throughout Europe.

This was followed in the afternoon by a meeting of the 17 eurozone countries.

Mr Cameron told a news conference he believed talks on how to strengthen Europe's banks and to promote economic growth were making progress.

He said that proposals on possible treaty changes could be put forward in December, but that he has "secured a commitment that would protect the interests of the UK".

The prime minister said that Wednesday's meeting, which he would attend, "will give us time to finalise banking recapitalisation and agree a comprehensive policy to put the euro on a more secure footing".

'Decisive and effective'

Before the morning meeting, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou urged Europe to "act decisively and effectively" to contain the troubles.

"It's been proven now that the crisis is not a Greek crisis," he told reporters. "The crisis is a European crisis. So now is the time that we as Europeans need to act decisively and effectively."

Shortly before the summit began, Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi held private talks with EU President Herman Van Rompuy, Mrs Merkel, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

There is concern that budget cuts passed by the Italian parliament do not go far enough.

The BBC's Europe correspondent Chris Morris said the summit was an indication of how much still needs to be decided.

He said: "Everyone now acknowledges that previous decisions on a second bail-out for Greece are insufficient.

"Far more of its debt will have to be written off, and that means banks and other financial institutions will have to take a much bigger hit. But how much debt, and how big a hit?"

'Jobs and growth'

The provisional deal agreed by finance ministers will see banks raise more than 100bn euros (£87bn) in new capital to shield them against possible losses to indebted countries.

It is conditional on a wider accord, including a write-down of Greek debt.

BBC business editor Robert Peston said the 100bn euros agreed in the deal will be provided to banks by commercial investors, national governments and the EU's bailout fund.

Speaking after the 10-hour meeting on Saturday, Mr Osborne said: "Britain will keep up pressure in the next few days to a comprehensive package to resolve the European crisis and to make sure that we get jobs and growth."

Debt-laden Greece has been bailed out - twice - along with the Irish Republic and Portugal.

The eurozone is working on a third package for Greece, as well as a solution that could help the much bigger economies of Spain and Italy, which are faltering.

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