Britain’s finance minister George Osborne says European Union treaties have to be changed to protect member states like the UK that do not use the euro.
“Proper legal protection for the rights of non-euro members is … absolutely necessary to preserve the single market and make it possible for Britain to remain in the EU,” he said at a conference in London on EU reform – organised by eurosceptic groups.
“If we cannot protect the collective interests of non-eurozone member states then they will have to choose between joining the euro, which the UK will not do, or leaving the EU.”
He also warned the European economy has stalled and is being shown up by those like China and India: “The biggest economic risk facing Europe doesn’t come from those who want reform and renegotiation it comes from a failure to reform and renegotiate. It is the status-quo which condemns the people of Europe to an ongoing economic crisis and continuing decline.”
Osborne again attacked a proposed financial transaction tax which he described as an “expensive, job-destroying” idea and said the British government wants the Lisbon treaty changed to prevent what he called a “caucus” of eurozone members imposing damaging financial services legislation on the City of London, where 60 percent of the EU’s financial services industry is based.
In his speech, the man in charge of the UK’s finances argued that the City is in competition with Hong Kong, Singapore and New York rather than Paris and Frankfurt.
“That’s why it was important that we secured some important institutional changes to protect the UK and ensure we have safe, competitive financial services,” he said.