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A two-tier Europe as Britain opts out of banking union: Cameron vows to secure 'better deal' for nation
After 14 hours of talks, eurozone countries agreed that the European Central Bank should directly supervise 200 banks – none of which are BritishThe agreement will prevent eurozone countries ganging up on those that have not adopted the single currency
02:29 GMT, 14 December 2012
New deal: British Prime Minister David Cameron arrives at the EU Headquarters
David Cameron vowed to secure ‘a better deal for Britain’ yesterday after an historic deal on EU banks established a two–tier Europe.
The agreement will prevent eurozone countries from ganging up on those that have not adopted the single currency – and protect the City of London from financial regulations drawn up by the debt-stricken bloc.
After 14 hours of talks, eurozone countries agreed that the European Central Bank should directly supervise 200 banks – none of which are British – in the most far-reaching step towards a single-currency superstate since the euro crisis began.
In future, eurozone banking regulations will have to be approved by a majority of the bloc’s members, as well as a majority of those EU members outside it.
This voting system means that a two-tier Europe – long talked of by diplomats – is now the reality.
Mr Cameron hailed the agreement as proof that Britain can safeguard its national interests while letting other European countries pursue an economic and monetary union.
He said Britain now has ‘opportunities’ to fight for ‘a better deal’, with the summit marking the ‘start of some important conversations where Britain can do better’.
The Prime Minister is due to make a speech in the new year spelling out the kind of relationship he wants with the EU, as well as promising a referendum on any new deal.
Last night he was locked in talks with fellow EU leaders as they discussed a blueprint for further integration, which is expected to lead to some countries pooling their debts and agreeing their budgets centrally after 2014.
European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso suggested that the banking union, agreed in the early hours yesterday, was the start of a United States of Eurozone.
Talks: Mr Cameron speaks to the press at the EU Headquarters on Thursday in Brussels, on the first day of a two-day European Union leaders summit
On a mission: Mr Cameron pictured arriving in Brussels on Thursday
‘We are going to have powers at central level in Europe, through the ECB, very comparable to the United States,’ he said.
Chancellor George Osborne described the agreement as ‘a good deal for Britain and a good deal for Europe’.
‘I think it’s a bit of a model of the way Britain’s relationship with Europe is going to work in the future,’ he added. ‘The eurozone is going to do more integration but Britain is going to protect its interests, and it is not going to give any more rights and powers to Brussels.’
George Osborne, left, described the agreement as 'a good deal for Britain and a good deal for Europe', while European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso suggested that the banking union was the start of a United Stated of Eurozone
However, Lord Harrison, of the Lords EU Sub-Committee on Economic and Financial Affairs, said he would summon ministers to ensure the deal is watertight.
‘The Government appear satisfied with the safeguards they have won in ensuring that the interests of the single market are defended – but the devil is in the detail,’ he insisted.
‘The implications of these important first steps towards a banking union could be momentous for the UK, even though we will not be participating.
‘We will be inviting the minister to meet with us early in the new year to explore the ramifications of last night’s deal.’
■ The European Court of Justice has rejected MEPs’ calls to scrap the European Parliament’s monthly Strasbourg meetings, despite warnings that the 540-mile commute from Brussels costs taxpayers 160million a year. Tory MEP Ashley Fox called the situation ‘ridiculous’.