David Cameron urges European leaders to 'be bolder'


David Cameron: "In Britain we had to be bold"

David Cameron has told EU leaders they must be "bolder" if they want to shake off their economic troubles.

The UK prime minister told the World Economic Forum in Davos it was a "perilous time" for Europe's economies and "tinkering won't cut it anymore".

He defended his government's deficit reduction plan, saying it helped the UK "get ahead of the markets".

But UK opposition leader Ed Miliband, said the policy of "collective austerity" was not working.

A host of world leaders and business chiefs are addressing the annual conference in the Swiss ski resort.

On Wednesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said a "big rethink" was needed in the eurozone about how to create jobs and raise living standards.

'Political will'

Mr Cameron's speech came the day after official figures showed the UK economy shrank by 0.2% in the final quarter of 2011, with worries about the prospect of a return to recession.

The International Monetary Fund also downgraded its forecasts for global growth earlier this week.

Start Quote

Tinkering here and there and hoping we'll drift to a solution simply won't cut it any more”

End Quote David Cameron

In a message to his European counterparts, Mr Cameron argued his government's efforts to tackle its deficit had "earned credibility and got (the UK) ahead of the markets", and eurozone leaders should now take similarly decisive action.

The eurozone crisis was "weighing down business confidence and investment" across Europe, he said, and EU leaders had to "to show the leadership our people are demanding".

"Tinkering here and there and hoping we'll drift to a solution simply won't cut it any more," he said. "This is time for boldness not caution."

Europe's problems - notably the debt crisis in Greece and the question marks over European banks - were clear, he said, and "with bold action and real political will we can fix them".

'Ambitious deals'

He warned that competitiveness remained Europe's "Achilles heel", with the single market incomplete and "unnecessary" measures from Brussels burdening businesses and destroying jobs.

"Here's the checklist - all proposed EU measures tested for their impact on growth; a target to reduce the overall burden of EU regulation; a new proportionality test to prevent needless barriers to trade in services and slash the number of regulated professions in Europe.

"The truth is, we can't afford to wait any longer."

In the absence of a conclusion to the Doha free trade talks, Mr Cameron also proposed that a "coalition of the willing" could "forge ahead with more ambitious deals of their own" such as agreements with India, Canada and Singapore.

He also called for the EU to "look at options for agreement" with the US in a deal that "could have a bigger impact than all of the other agreements put together".

'Tax madness'

Start Quote

He is standing by because he is stuck with the policy of collective austerity all round the world - it is not working”

End Quote Ed Miliband Labour leader

The prime minister also suggested it would be "simply madness" for Europe to unilaterally introduce a tax on financial transactions - as it would see thousands of jobs being lost to other parts of the world.

This was rejected by the Robin Hood tax campaign group whose spokesman said the prime minister had "confused the interests of the Square Mile with the interest of Britain as a whole".

Prior to his speech, Mr Cameron hosted a meeting of UK business leaders also attended by Chancellor George Osborne - who will address the World Economic Forum on Friday.

No 10 said he had also spoken to European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso and European Council president Herman van Rompuy to emphasise the need for EU leaders to agree "specific targets" on trade and de-regulation at next week's European Council meeting.

Labour's Ed Miliband, who is also in Davos, said the prime minister should be focusing on "taking action at home to get the UK economy moving".

"But he is not doing that. He is standing by because he is stuck with the policy of collective austerity all round the world. It is not working.

"He needs to wake up and realise that, rather than being so complacent about what is happening in Britain."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    @ 53. daffodiljar

    The poor can't pay. The rich won't pay.

    It is those in the middle that are funding everything.

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    Mr Cameron accused the EU, despite the economic challenge, of "doing things to make life even harder".

    And yet he continues to make life as hard as possible for the average man on Britain's streets. The man has no more idea of what he is doing than Gordon Brown did looking after the countries finances.

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    I suppose Cameron thinks it bold to ensure that the most vulnerable in Britain have to pay for the excesses of the most powerful. His policies are meekly in line with the wishes of the wealthy: he'll do anything to ensure that the money keeps flowing towards the top while, for example, ordinary people who lose their jobs will be turfed out of their London homes because of cuts in benefits.

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    Ed Miliband is really getting irritating with his constant sniping whilst representing the party on whose watch the whole mess was created. Great track record Ed!

    Why should he be concentrating on issues at home when we operate in a global economy and our growth is dependent on the success of our partners? Great advice Ed!

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    It amounts to an admission by the ruling elites that they've lost the right to rule the political and economic order over which they preside has no legitimacy in the eyes of the people But it does not mean that the ruling elite and its irrational & destructive economic/political order is going to bow out they'll fight ever more viciously to maintain their position against growing social opposition

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    I bet this piece of friendly advice went down a storm with merkel and sarkosy

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    no friends made by our PM for telling them the truth,but thats the way it has to be the EEC is totally lacking in ideas about the mess they have got into,Germany has fed of the weaker EEC countries for years,now it is pay back but they don;t want to what a surprise,but what makes it worse is they have no idea what spooks the markets ,Merkel says Greece may have to go we all know that do IT !!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.


    I think you'll find that the majority of economists are predicting a double-dip recession in the eurozone, substantially deeper than any economic shrinkage in the UK.

    The only reason that negative growth hasn't been reported in the eurozone is because their Q4 figures haven't been released yet.

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    What is this dingbat cameron on about He defended his government's deficit reduction plan, saying it helped the UK "get ahead of the markets"so what markets are these & why have most of the people uk not notice this is just another over exaggeration by this incompetent FOOL!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    bad reporting. It should have read that "Cameron took a short break from tinkering with social issues to tell europe to stop tinkering"

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    If Europe is really serious about competing with China, India, Russia, US, South America and the rest of the world then it needs to comprehensively dump its failed "Social Model" and its useless Utopianism or simply be left behind to stew in the social collapse of its bankrupt economic philosophy.

    Throwing these restrictive and unnecessary employment laws onto the bonfire would be a good start.

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    Apologies, I got this comment completely wrong:-

    "Ed Moribund criticising the Coalition is like getting a free ride!"

    What I should have said was:-

    "Eds Moribund & Balls criticising the Coalition is the finest and most positive endorsement for their policies!"

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.


    Meanwhile China forges ahead with vigour. I don't hear the Chinese banging on about a Robin Hood Tax Alliance.
    In places like China and Malaysia, they call the recession the Western recession.
    It's just more lies from our politicians when they refer to the issue as a global recession.

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    The Euro countries need to let this dead duck, single currency go and have their own currencies back.

    It worked before............

    The old adage of " If it ain't broke, don't fix it" springs to mind!

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    Who in their right mind ever thought that tying all the currency together of countries with vastly differing economies was every going to work ? It was bound to fail as those differing economies changed over time.

    The only think to do is abandon the Euro and go back to a proper exchange rate mechanism, each country has it's own currency and let the markets decide their actual relative worth.

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    Chris888 You may have noted that the Bilderberg group are meeting in Davos and that means that the elite want changes that we will never know about. Frankly there is not much more that Europe can do. The only thing now is to forgo taxes on the lower paid to directly inject that cash into the markets and boost employment. Wages will be lower but prices must come down. Get rid of PAYE under 40K

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    27. Statement_Germany you took the words out of my mouth. Couldn't agree more. Instead of all this posturing and political freeriding on the backs of the anti-europe lobby, we should perhaps start looking to Germany as a model of how to get some growth back into the UK economy.

    Eurosceptics don't you ever get bored of trotting out the same old tired line?

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, all facing cutbacks.

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    27. To be fair isn't UK's debt as a percentage of GDP still lower than Germany's? You were probably confused by George Osborne screaming we were about to become the next Greece unless we make half a million civil servantsd redundant for the last 3 years (I paraphrase).


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