Britain was left standing alone as most of the 27-nation European Union agreed to consider a separate treaty with stricter budget rules for the euro zone. Citing a lack of concessions for its own economy, Britain held back from the move late Thursday at a summit meeting of EU leaders.
British Prime Minister David Cameron’s (left) negotiating tactics were termed “clumsy” by one senior EU diplomat, according to a Reuters report, and Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite was even more outspoken, saying, “Not Europe, Brits divided. And they are outside of decision making. Europe is united.”
Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, however, held out hope that eventually Britain would reconsider and join the others.
All 17 members of the euro zone, as well as six countries that intend to join it, agreed to negotiate a new treaty separate from that of the EU that would have tougher rules for deficits and debts to help protect the euro zone from the debt crisis. Sweden, Hungary and the Czech Republic said they would have to consult with their parliaments before agreeing to the new treaty.
European Central Bank President Mario Draghi called the agreement a step forward, and was quoted saying, “It’s going to be the basis for a good fiscal compact and more discipline in economic policy in the euro area members. We came to conclusions that will have to be fleshed out more in the coming days.”