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BBC World Service

European summit almost gets the job done

Matthew Davies Dec 9, 2011

Steve Chiotakis: All but four countries in the European Union have agreed to a new treaty that would enforce strict budget rules among those countries. Every nation that uses the euro currency voted in favor. But four EU members that don’t use the euro didn’t go along with the plan. The UK in particular was a stumbling block.

The BBC’s Matthew Davis has more now on a summit that didn’t quite go all the way.

Matthew Davies: The dream was for all the 27 European Union nations to agree to a new treaty. Now a deal will be done with just 23 countries. The 17 nations that use the euro as a currency, plus six more who want to. That leaves four EU members who don’t use the euro as a currency – Sweden, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Britain – outside of any new accord.
And Britain seems to have been the biggest obstacle.

Prime Minister David Cameron said that he wouldn’t agree to any deal that was against British interests. And he backed off this deal because it includes a tax on banks for stock trades, and that would hurt the financial industry in London.

David Cameron: I am glad we are not in the euro. And so I think the idea of Europe’s being more of a network where you choose the organizations you join and you choose those organizations you don’t join is actually the way that Britain can get what we want and what we need in Europe.

There is a danger is that if Germany, France and other European countries push ahead with closer ties like this deal, that deeper integration could further divide the European economy and prolong the debt crisis. And no one in the global economy wants that — the European debt crisis has dragged on so long already that many think Europe has sent itself into another recession.

In London, I’m the BBC’s Matthew Davies, for Marketplace.

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