DAVID Cameron has called for a “lasting solution” to the crisis in the eurozone after enduring 18 EU summits on the issue since becoming Prime Minister.
He told fellow EU leaders of his frustration at the latest summit in Brussels, arguing for a once-and-for-all sweeping change of policy priorities to deliver growth across Europe.
But he did not want to ditch tough austerity measures.
The talks ended after more than 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 sticks to its agreement to impose strict austerity measures in return for bailouts.
Jose Manuel Barroso, the head of the European Commission, stressed everyone wanted Greece to remain in the euro but warned: “We will stand by Greece while Greece stands by its commitments”.
This was echoed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said: “We want Greece to stay in the euro but we insist Greece sticks to commitments it has agreed to.”
Earlier, Mr Cameron said every EU summit since he took office 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.
“There needs to be decisive action soon that delivers a lasting resolution to this crisis” the PM insisted.
And he also warned the rest of Europe needed to be ready for whatever verdict the Greek people delivered at the re-run election on June 17.
French President Francois Hollande, attending his first summit of EU leaders since his election, pressed his case for more emphasis on growth in animated exchanges with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
And he backed the idea of a Financial Transactions Tax – despite British rejection of the idea as a non-starter.
Meanwhile, Nick Clegg was set to warn today that a Greek withdrawal from the euro would cause “unpredictable, irrevocable damage” to the single currency that “no rational person” should advocate.
In a speech in Berlin, the Deputy Prime Minister was due to criticise the notion “being whispered behind cupped hands” that Greece’s exit could be a good thing for the rest of Europe.