You're obliged to join euro, Britain told

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The Independent Online

David Cameron's hopes that Britain could emerge as the leader of the 10 EU countries not in the euro were dashed by the European Commission President yesterday.

Jose Manuel Barroso claimed that all EU members had an obligation to join the euro, even though he conceded that Britain and Denmark were allowed to opt out by the Maastricht Treaty. Drawing a distinction between the 17 members of the eurozone and those nations which are "not in yet", he told the BBC: "In principle, all member states of the EU should be members of the euro." Such an approach would leave Britain isolated since no political party wants it to join in the foreseeable future.

British ministers are worried that plans to forge a fiscal union of euro members after the eurozone debt crisis will allow the 17 to dictate policies for the EU as a whole, with the 10 – that includes the UK – relegated to a second division.

Nick Clegg, in Brussels for talks with Mr Barroso yesterday, said:"I don't think everybody needs to be a member of the euro and there are lots of countries who are not a member of the euro."