UK Politics

David Cameron says UK 'setting agenda in EU'

David Cameron has insisted that the UK "helped to set the agenda" at last week's European summit, despite not signing a treaty enforcing budget discipline on eurozone states.

The prime minister told MPs it was "right that we are not involved", but added that the UK had influenced the contents of the document.

The UK and Czech Republic were the only two EU members not to sign the treaty.

Labour leader Ed Miliband said Mr Cameron was wrong to "claim triumph".

The "fiscal compact" aims to prevent the 17 eurozone states running up huge debts like those which sparked the Greek, Irish and Portuguese bailouts. To take effect, it must be ratified by 12 eurozone states.

To cheers from Conservative MPs, Mr Cameron said: "Britain is not signing this agreement. Britain is not in the euro. Britain is not going to join the euro and it is right that we are not involved."

But the prime minister argued that a pre-summit letter signed by 12 member states, including the UK, Poland, Spain and Italy, calling for a greater liberalisation of markets within the EU, aimed at boosting economic growth, had been listened to by leaders.

He cited agreements on energy, services and digital markets reached in Brussels.

He said: "It is vital that issues such as the single market are discussed by all 27 members... Britain helped to set the agenda at the European Council and Britain helped to secure its success."

But Mr Miliband said the prime minister was "isolated" in Europe.

In his statement to the Commons, Mr Cameron also warned Syria that if President Bashar Assad remains in power it makes the risk of "all out civil war" more likely.

He said the UK would make a fresh push for a United Nations Security Council resolution to demand an end to violence and for humanitarian access to the Baba Amr district of the city of Homs, where much violence has reportedly taken place.

Mr Cameron told MPs: "The history of Homs is being written in the blood of its citizens."

He said he had spoken to British photographer Paul Conroy, who was injured in the attack which killed Sunday Times journalist Marie Colvin in Homs, adding: "I spoke to him this morning and he described vividly the barbarity he had witnessed in that city."

Mr Miliband said: "The pictures and testimony coming out of Homs in the last few days and again today are truly horrific, with women and fathers telling of their children being murdered in front of their eyes."

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