UK Politics

Hague says repatriation of powers from EU not imminent

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Media captionWilliam Hague: "We have helped Ireland but we are not involved in other eurozone bailouts"

Foreign Secretary William Hague has said there is "no immediate prospect" of repatriating powers from the European Union.

He said he was in favour of such a move but it was some way off, because no countries were proposing widescale treaty change.

Speaking on BBC One's Andrew Marr Show, Mr Hague denied "going soft" on Europe.

He said the UK's priority was for the eurozone to be stabilised and the British national interest protected.

Mr Hague said: "I'm not going soft and will never go soft on this. I believe in being in Europe but not run by Europe - in my slogan of 10 years or so ago."

He said: "Our priorities, given that there is no major treaty on the cards at the moment, are to protect our own financial services industry, to hold down the budget and to make sure the 17 eurozone countries can't cork us together and impose their views on the other 10 who are not in the euro."

'Unnecessary interference'

Later, on BBC Radio 4's The World This Weekend, Mr Hague said people were disillusioned over Europe, saying: "The eurozone crisis has added to that."

He said "excessive regulation" and "unnecessary interference into daily life" from Brussels' institutions compounded the feeling.

The foreign secretary also suggested the IMF, which Britain pays into, already had enough money to support ailing economies.

On Saturday, after a G20 finance ministers' meeting, Chancellor George Osborne said there was real momentum towards resolving the eurozone crisis, which has seen Greece, Spain and Italy struggle with massive debts.

The real test, he said, would be at the G20 summit in Cannes next month, when a solution is expected to be delivered.

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