Jose Manuel Barroso (left) told MEPs that the agreement of the "27 minus" states was "quite impressive" - but scolded the UK for its "impossible" demands. Geert Vanden Wijngaert/AP
European Parliament

Barroso hails Euro deal - but slams UK's "impossible" demands

European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso says last week’s deal is a compromise of ’27 minus’, not of ’17 plus’.

EUROPEAN COMMISSION president Jose Manuel Barroso has hailed the deal struck by 26 European Union member states in Brussels last week – with a thinly-veiled criticism of the UK and David Cameron.

Speaking in Strasbourg this morning, Barroso said all 27 member states had agreed on the “substance” of a deal to enforce greater financial oversight among EU states, but that the UK had objected on the “form” of that deal.

Though the agreement on substance was “quite impressive”, Barroso said, the UK had attached conditions to the deal which made a working compromise between all 27 member states “impossible”.

“As you know, one member state was opposed to amending Lisbon,” Barroso told MEPs at the plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

“The United Kingdom asked for specific protocol on financial services, which was a risk to the integrity of the internal market – [a request which] made compromise impossible.”

Barroso said he had responded by proposing that any measures apply only to the eurozone itself, but could not undermine the internal market – a condition that David Cameron would not sign up to.

“This is not an agreement at 17 plus,” he said, referring to the eurozone, “but at 27 minus.”

The Portuguese said the European Commission and Parliament would have to concentrate on “squaring the circle” in the coming weeks, figuring out how the new agreement between the 26 countries could work without eroding the institutions of the full 27-member EU.

The leaders of the European People’s Party and the Socialist & Democrats group also condemned the UK for its reluctance to sign up to the new oversight, ridiculing Britain’s choice to priorities the City of London over the broader EU.

The Liberal grouping’s Guy Verhofstadt said David Cameron had overseen the “blunder of a lifetime” by vetoing the deal – insisting on speaking in his native Flemish instead of English, saying the other language was inappropriate given the matter at hand.

You only walk away from the table if you are sure the others will come after you… When you are invited as a table, it is either as a guest or you are part of a menu.

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