Business

George Osborne says time is short to save the euro

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Media captionChancellor George Osborne: "A successful euro is massively in our interest"

Chancellor George Osborne has said that a successful euro is "massively" in the UK's interest but warned that time is short to save it.

In a speech, he urged eurozone leaders to "recognise the gravity of the situation and deal with it".

He said the UK was "not immune" from the economic difficulties but he was "confident we can weather this storm".

Later on Friday Mr Osborne will take part in talks with EU finance ministers in Wroclaw, Poland.

Mr Osborne told a business conference in Manchester: "I'll be looking for my European colleagues to send a clear signal that they truly recognise the gravity of the situation and that they are dealing with it. Time is short."

He added that successful currency union needed closer economic co-operation: "Crucially, my European colleagues need to accept the remorseless logic of monetary union that leads from a single currency to greater fiscal integration."

The shadow chancellor, Ed Balls, has also described the eurozone's problems as representing "a very grave crisis" .

Responding to George Osborne's call for a better international response to the situation, Mr Balls said: "It's a great relief that finally George Osborne and the government here in Britain are waking up to the scale of this crisis."

Bank move

US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is also attending the meeting in Poland, underlining Washington's fears that problems in the eurozone could spread beyond Europe.

Demands that Greece accelerate its austerity plans, and divisions among governments and policymakers over support for indebted eurozone members, have sparked turmoil in the financial markets.

However, Greek finance minister Evangelos Venizelos has said his country will meet its austerity plan and default is not an issue.

The meeting comes a day after five central banks announced a co-ordinated move to try to help the world's financial system.

The banks have agreed to provide commercial banks with three additional tranches of dollar loans to help ease funding pressures.

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