David Cameron pushes for growth at EU summit

 

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Prime Minister David Cameron today vowed to push forward measures to boost growth in Europe as he arrived at a summit with other EU leaders in Brussels.

After years of economic crisis meetings, and with a new multi-billion pound bailout deal just secured to tide Greece over, the Brussels talks will try to focus on moves to restore eurozone stability and credibility.

A European Central Bank announcement last night of £440 billion in cheap loans to hundreds of banks further calmed markets and added to determination to demonstrate that the economic crisis might have turned a corner.

A dozen EU leaders including Mr Cameron have set out a "plan for growth in Europe" in a joint letter to be tabled at the summit. It emphasises the need to match the economic crisis response with a plan to "lay the foundations for strong and lasting economic recovery".

Arriving at the European Council venue, Mr Cameron said: "Europe doesn't just face a debt crisis, Europe also faces a growth crisis.

"Britain, together with 11 other European countries, has come together and set out a whole series of measures that the EU can take that would help drive growth, including deregulating businesses to set them free to create more jobs.

"That's the agenda I am going to be driving at this European Council, and the aim is to get as many of those measures approved as possible."

A rival Franco-German letter has also set out steps towards recovery, but EU officials denied there was any significant difference of view about the direction out of the crisis.

The brief summit starts this evening and should be over by the middle of tomorrow, with the high-point the formal signing of a new "fiscal compact" committing 25 of the 27 member states to tougher Brussels scrutiny of their economic plans.

The "fiscal compact" was forged after Mr Cameron dramatically vetoed a formal EU Treaty change last December, and Britain has been joined by only the Czech Republic in refusing to be part of the accord on new economic constraints.

British officials said Mr Cameron would not be in the same summit room when the deal is signed.

Underlining the new 25-2 split over the pact, Mr Cameron held talks with Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas in 10 Downing Street this morning, and the two men then travelled to Brussels together by Eurostar train.

PA

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