Cameron stands firm in refusal to join euro

Prime Minister David Cameron yesterday promised Britain would not be drawn into "new mechanisms or new procedures" in a bid to save the euro.

After talks with French prime minister Francois Fillon, who is urging the UK to back further European integration, Mr Cameron said he wanted the eurozone to tackle its problems.

But he stressed there was no prospect under his premiership of Britain ceding more powers or becoming part of eurozone mechanisms.

"A strong and successful eurozone is in Britain's interests, we want the countries of the eurozone to sort out the difficulties they have and we won't stand in the way as we do that," the Prime Minister said.

"Indeed, we will be a helpful partner in making sure that happens.

"But let me again be clear – that does not mean that Britain should be drawn into new mechanisms or new procedures or have to give up new powers. That is absolutely not what we see as necessary as happening and throughout the European Councils last year we made that point and secured that point on many, many occasions."

Mr Fillon used an interview with The Times to indicate that he would be using today's meeting to urge the Prime Minister to support further harmonisation of EU economic and fiscal policy.

Speaking alongside Mr Fillon at a joint Downing Street press conference, Mr Cameron said: "We want a strong eurozone, we want it to sort out its problems, we won't stand in its way.

"But we are neither joining the euro, nor are we going to be drawn into fresh and new mechanisms within the euro."

Mr Cameron said he accepted that members of the single currency needed to co-ordinate their fiscal policies, but that was why he had opposed Britain joining.

"Britain isn't in the euro, we aren't going to join the euro," he said. "We understand that if you are in a single currency you do need to take steps to better co-ordinate and harmonise some of the things you do together.

"Indeed that was one of the reasons I didn't want to join the euro in the first place."

He added: "When we talk of harmonisation and these sorts of questions they don't have to apply to Britain because we are not in the euro."

Mr Fillon stressed that his calls for greater policy harmonisation referred only to the eurozone.