Sarkozy says UK cannot 'change its address' and ignore Europe

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The Independent Online

Britain should look to Europe rather than the US for its economic destiny, the French Finance Minister said yesterday as Gordon Brown launched a scathing attack on the euro system.

Britain should look to Europe rather than the US for its economic destiny, the French Finance Minister said yesterday as Gordon Brown launched a scathing attack on the euro system.

Nicholas Sarkozy urged Britain, as one of the six key powers within the 25 members of the European Union, to work to solve the problems afflicting the Continent.

"Europe needs Britain," he said. "Your place is in Europe with your European brethren.

"You are friends with America and so are we but you are closer to Europe and that's the reality. It is very rare for a country to change its address."

The Chancellor, in his keynote speech, outlined a "patriotic vision of Britain's economic destiny as a nation of aspiration and ambition". He praised the UK's economic stability compared with other European countries, just hours after Peter Mandelson attacked him for "exaggerated gloating" over his economic record.

The Chancellor criticised the "mistakes" of the European stability and growth pact, with its focus on annual deficits rather than long-term targets on debt. He said he was determined to build a "pro-European consensus" in Britain but signalled the Government would continue to resist tax harmonisation or further labour market directives.

He repeated his message that the pre-Budget report - expected next month - would boost skills and education to ensure the UK would continue to create jobs in the face of the threat from China and India.

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