09/01/2012 12:11 GMT | Updated 09/01/2012 12:13 GMT

Clegg Warns Against 'Rivalry And Isolation' Within Eurozone

Nick Clegg has once again distanced himself from David Cameron's position on the eurozone crisis, telling a gathering of European leaders in London of the need to avoid "needless rivalry and isolation".

The deputy prime minister had invited various EU leaders, including the prime minister of the Netherlands, to the meeting in London, where they agreed a statement.

"Unless we can tackle another underlying cause of the crisis - Europe’s lack of global competitiveness - this crisis will be the first of many," it said.

Clegg's comments came after David Cameron earlier told Sky News that Europe needed to re-balance its economy to tackle the divide between Germany and Southern Europe.

Describing the current arrangements to prevent a collapse of the eurozone as "sticking plaster steps", Cameron said: "But that is only the short term. The longer term is that you have got to address the fact that there is a lack of competitiveness between Germany on the one hand and many of the southern European countries on the other.

But Clegg went further, telling fellow European leaders: "We can only address these problems by pulling together," he said.

"The one lesson we have learnt over and over again in Europe, to our cost, is that we are stronger when we are together and weaker when we are apart.

"It is immensely important to work as liberals, in all our different countries, in all our different ways, to promote unity over disunity and to promote co-operation rather than needless rivalry and isolation."

Clegg's statement appears to contradict numerous missives made by David Cameron in recent months, who has repeatedly told Europe that it has to "get its house in order", and insisting that Britain's contributions to the International Monetary Fund should not be used to prop up the Eurozone.

Among those joining Clegg for Monday's lunch and roundtable discussions were Olli Rehn, the European Commissioner for economic and monetary affairs, Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte and German economy minister Philipp Roesler.