1:05am Thursday 24th May 2012
© Press Association 2014
David Cameron has called for a "lasting solution" to the eurozone crisis after enduring 18 EU summits on the subject since he became Prime Minister.
He voiced his frustration to fellow EU leaders at the latest such summit in Brussels on Wednesday night, arguing for a once-and-for-all sweeping change of policy priorities to deliver growth across Europe - but without giving up on tough austerity measures.
The talks ended after more than a six hours with declarations of renewed pledges on austerity coupled with growth and a repeat pledge to do everything to keep Greece in the eurozone - as long as the country keeps its agreement to impose strict austerity measures in return for continued bailouts.
One EU official commented: "You could not expect any decisions that can resolve this crisis overnight. We have been holding talks on the key issues - jobs and growth but we are not today saying much different from what we were saying at the G8 summit in America."
Earlier, Mr Cameron emphasised that Greece had to stick to its debt and deficit reduction commitments in return for bailouts - but other countries facing difficulties should be given more central support and longer deadlines to meet austerity goals.
The Prime Minister said every EU summit since he took office - 18 in all - had been about the crisis...bailouts, new financial mechanisms, new eurozone economic rules and recently a new "fiscal pact". But now EU leaders had to address the "real issues" behind the euro crisis, he said.
He called for a range of growth-producing policies, with support for energy and transport and digital market strategies - all of which would deliver jobs and revitalise economies. The EU single market needed reinforcing and completing, to boost trade across Europe. "There needs to be decisive action soon that delivers a lasting resolution to this crisis" Mr Cameron insisted.
The Prime Minister - criticised for dictating to the eurozone, justified his remarks by pointing out that the UK was directly affected by eurozone problems - six times more exposed, he said, than the US. "It is right that we set out our views," he said. He warned that the rest of Europe needed to be ready for whatever verdict the Greek people delivered at the re-run election on June 17.
As he left the summit in the early hours, Mr Cameron commented: "It was a good meeting in that there was complete agreement that dealing with deficits and getting growth are not alternatives, they go together, you need to do one in order to get the other. There was also good agreement that we need to make Europe more competitive, we need to complete the single market, we need to do those structural reforms."
He added: "Then there were good innovative ideas that can help growth in Europe, but frankly there were some bad ideas too: a financial transactions tax is a bad idea, it will put up the cost of people's insurance, put up the cost of people's pensions, it would cost many many jobs, and it would make Europe less competitive and I'll fight it all the way."
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