EU Crisis: George Osborne Says Weekend Talks 'Critical' For Future of Eurozone

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GEORGE OSBORNE
AP

A round of weekend negotiations in Brussels will be "critical" in settling the eurozone crisis, Chancellor George Osborne has said.

Before leaving for Brussels for talks with fellow EU finance ministers, he said resolving the crisis would be a boost for growth, not just in the eurozone but in the UK and across the world.

Mr Osborne is attending a meeting before Sunday's summit of all 27 EU leaders amid growing concern that an answer to the economic crisis in Europe is slipping from the grasp of the member states.

A crunch summit was planned for last Monday, but German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Nicolas Sarkozy announced a postponement after realising they were far from agreement on key issues such as a massive reinforcement of an existing bailout fund for struggling eurozone countries, and a major recapitalisation of European banks to help them withstand economic shocks.

A sense of indecision and confusion worsened on Thursday night when Paris and Berlin announced that another summit would be held in Brussels next Wednesday - indicating no results were likely from Sunday's meeting.

On Friday night, eurozone finance ministers met in Brussels. Now all 27 EU finance ministers, including Mr Osborne, will gather for more talks. On Sunday morning, EU leaders take the stage - and then eurozone countries meet again to consider the conclusions.

Mr Osborne said: "The coming days will be critical for resolving the crisis in the eurozone. I am convinced of everyone's commitment to this. A resolution to the eurozone crisis would be the biggest boost to growth in Britain and around the world."

Prime Minister David Cameron arrives in Brussels early on Sunday for the half-day summit, although reinforcement of an existing eurozone bailout fund will only involve the 17 eurozone countries. Recapitalisation of Europe's banks, on the other hand, will involve all 27 member states.

Opposition leader Ed Miliband said Mr Cameron should demand that all 27 member states are present at Wednesday's meeting. Currently the Prime Minister plans to attend a Commonwealth summit in Australia that day.

Mr Miliband told The Guardian: "David Cameron should be banging on the door to maintain British influence. When all the other leading EU nations meet to thrash out a desperately needed deal, we have a prime minister who is going to be on the other side of the world. It is a complete abdication."

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