Tensions between U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy boiled over as they argued over the right of non-euro nations to attend Oct. 26 meetings on a revamped strategy to contain the Greece-fueled debt crisis.
Cameron said the decisive talks in two days should include leaders from all 27 European Union states and not be limited to the 17 euro nations. Sarkozy replied that if the U.K. wanted to be involved it should have joined the euro, said two people familiar with the summit encounter yesterday in Brussels.
“We must safeguard the interests of countries that want to stay outside the euro, particularly with respect to the integrity of the single market for all 27 countries of the EU,” Cameron told reporters after the meeting. “This crisis means that greater fiscal and economic integration in the euro zone is inevitable, but this must not be at the expense of Britain’s national interest.”
Sarkozy told Cameron over lunch that he was angry that the U.K. premier and Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne criticized the euro area’s response to the crisis and lectured them on how to respond, the people said. In a compromise, a deal was struck to hold a meeting of all 27 EU leaders on Oct. 26 before the euro-area chiefs convene to complete their strategy.
Cameron will attend “before the euro-zone conference gets going,” he told reporters. “It gives us the opportunity to finalize the decisions on banking recapitalization, which is something that concerns all 27 countries, and it gives another opportunity to feed in the importance of agreeing a comprehensive package that will put the future of the euro on more secure foundations.”
Spokesmen for Cameron and Sarkozy declined to comment.
EU President Herman Van Rompuy sought to smooth over divisions between the euro states and those not in the single currency, saying he will improve communication.
“I shared with the full European Council some of the elements under discussion in the euro summits of later today and Wednesday,” Van Rompuy told reporters after the meeting of the 27-member council. “I am fully aware of all the sensitivities of the relationship between the 27 and the 17 member states, so my intention is to have this exchange of views if possible each time before the euro summit meetings.”