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Britain warns to veto EU treaty changes if against its interests

(Xinhua)

10:42, December 07, 2011

LONDON, Dec. 6 (Xinhua) -- British Prime minister David Cameron said late on Tuesday that he will not sign up to any changes to the European Union (EU) treaty if they were against British interests.

"I won't sign a treaty that does not have safeguards in it around things like the importance of the single market and financial services,"Cameron told the BBC in London.

Cameron is worried that any rewriting of the EU treaty, to be discussed later this week, could make an open market for British goods and services more restricted. He is also keen to protect London's status as the financial capital of Europe since receipts from the finance sector account for 11 percent of government tax income.

Britain has more leeway than any of the struggling European economies such as Ireland, Greece or Italy, in dealing with its economic problems because it retains control of its own currency and is not a member of the euro, however the problems of the eurozone have significant impact on the British economy.

The EU is the primary export market for Britain, and the instability in the eurozone has seriously affected business and consumer confidence in Britain, where the economy is already feeling the pressure of chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne's austerity drive across government spending.

Britain's economy is struggling. Several hundred thousand public sector jobs have been lost in Osborne's cuts while youth unemployment is at the million mark. Inflation is above 5 percent but wage settlements are below 3 percent.

In his autumn statement chancellor Osborne had to extend the period for hitting his financial targets by two years, because growth this year is set to be 0.9 percent, against his forecast of 1.7 percent, and growth in 2012 will be 0.7 percent against the 2.5 percent Osborne had based his figures on back in March.

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