EUObserver: Tensions between Paris and London flared up on Sunday (23 October) amid crisis talks on the eurozone, as President Nicolas Sarkozy of France hit out at British criticisms of the single currency.
“You have lost a good opportunity to shut up,” the Guardian, a UK paper, reports the French leader as telling UK Prime Minister David Cameron.
“We are sick of you criticising us and telling us what to do. You say you hate the euro and now you want to interfere in our meetings.”
The row centred on concerns by the UK leader that decisions taken solely by the eurozone members would have impact on the single market shared by all 27 euro and non-euro using members of the European Union.
The reported bust-up caused an hour-and-a-half delay to a joint press conference between Sarkozy and German Chancelllor Angela Merkel mid-afternoon.
In the end, the EU leaders reached a compromise that all 27 will first discuss the comprehensive eurozone crisis response package at a subsequent summit in Brussels on Wednesday, but that the eurozone chiefs themselves will have the last word on the matters at their own separate meeting immediately afterward.
“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 later told reporters in his own press briefing, explaining but downplaying the exchange.
“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.”
Herman Van Rompuy, the EU Council President later obliquely referenced the row and echoing Cameron’s words regarding a “safeguarding” of the interests of all 27 states.
“The 27 are the basis of our prosperity. We must keep the two types of decision making as close as possible,” he told reporters.