Blair pushes for role in euro club

 

Britain said yesterday that it would continue to seek admission to a new club of states that would co-ordinate economic policy under a single European currency, despite a rebuff in Brussels on Monday. But the French Finance Minister, Mr Dominique Strauss-Kahn, angrily rejected London's case. "We are no longer seeking a compromise," he said during a Franco-Spanish summit meeting in Salamanca, Spain.

European Union finance ministers failed on Monday to agree on how to include those countries such as Britain that will not be in the first wave. "We shall continue to put our case," a British government official spokesman told reporters. He said the dispute would have to be discussed further at the EU summit in Luxembourg on December 11th and 12th.

Finance minister, Mr Gordon Brown, argued on Monday that Britain should be included in the new body, dubbed the "Euro-x". But France and Germany, which proposed setting up the informal policy forum, turned him down.

The spokesman said no decision had been taken in Brussels and there was an acceptance that Ecofin - the formal regular meetings of EU finance ministers - would remain the main co-ordinating authority in economic matters.

"Ecofin has got to remain the main decision taking body. The (EU's founding) treaty says all member states should regard economic policies as matters of common interest," the spokesman said.

He said Britain accepted that countries joining the euro in the first wave had a more direct interest in the decision-making surrounding it, but decisions would affect countries which chose to remain outside.