UK Politics

David Cameron claims EU summit win over growth plan

David Cameron has claimed a UK-backed "action plan" to boost growth has set the agenda at an EU summit - having earlier complained it had been ignored.

The UK PM said he had been "frustrated" that "concrete steps" urged in a letter backed by 12 EU states were not covered in early drafts of the communique.

But he said the final draft had been "fundamentally rewritten in line with our demands".

EU sources said Mr Cameron had got about "half of what he was asking for".

Mr Cameron had earlier argued that the original draft conclusions specifically called for issues in terms set out in a separate letter signed by France and Germany, but did not include demands set out in the British-backed plan.

'Unprecedented alliance'

On Friday, Mr Cameron said the first draft had "no mention" of deepening the single market in services - and there was now a "clear commitment" to take action. He said it was a similar story with demands to open up regulated professions, deregulation, completing the internal energy market and trade.

France and Germany had not signed up to the letter initiated by Mr Cameron and Dutch PM Mark Rutte - but Mr Cameron said he had forged an "unprecedented alliance" in favour of open markets and trade which included traditional allies in Scandinavia and southern EU states, Italy and Spain.

Asked whether he was in a position to complain about a "Franco-German stitch-up" at an EU summit, the prime minister said: "I don't see the EU, as you put it, as a Franco-German stitch-up.

"What I see it as is an organisation of 27 countries where clearly the bigger players, of which Britain is one, have a large influence.

"But when you work together with like-minded allies - particularly when you can include allies from unexpected quarters - the fact that the Italians, the Spanish, the Portuguese, others are now supporting this approach - you make a real difference."

Deregulation concern

BBC political correspondent Iain Watson said French President Nicolas Sarkozy had said that France and Germany could not consider some of what the UK PM had backed on deregulation.

President Sarkozy said 90% of the topics were acceptable to France and Germany, but 10-15% were "impossible".

EU president Herman Van Rompuy also rejected some of the British proposals, which focused on improving the functioning of the European single market.

"The internal market is not the only way to boost growth and jobs," he said.

Later, President Sarkozy joked: "I am sure the 11 other signatories appreciated David's declarations on 'his' letter."

He added: "I took Mr Cameron's letter to mean that they do not want to be left behind after deciding not to join the (new EU fiscal) treaty and I am delighted.

"We need the English in Europe," he said, before adding in English: "We need you."

During the summit, all EU states, apart from the UK and the Czech Republic, signed a new treaty aimed at enforcing budget discipline in the eurozone.

Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander said: "It's no good David Cameron complaining about being ignored when he is simply reaping what he has sowed in Europe.

"Sadly it's difficult for him to provide the political leadership Europe needs on jobs and growth when his own policies in Britain are undermining both."