Carwyn Calls on Cameron to Tone Down His Celebration of Euroscepticism; JONES SAYS ECONOMIC CRISIS IS EUROPEAN, NOT EUROZONE

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), January 27, 2012 | Go to article overview
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Carwyn Calls on Cameron to Tone Down His Celebration of Euroscepticism; JONES SAYS ECONOMIC CRISIS IS EUROPEAN, NOT EUROZONE


Byline: MARTIN SHIPTON

FIRST MINISTER Carwyn Jones has insisted the crisis affecting Europe's economies is not a eurozone crisis, but a European crisis.

In an interview with the leading EU-related news website EurActiv, Mr Jones also urged David Cameron to tone down his eurosceptic rhetoric and avoid a repeat of the diplomatic failure of last month's summit.

He said: "It's quite clear to me that the usual work that would be done in advance of a meeting such as this wasn't done.

"The fact that the UK was left on its own is in many ways a failure of diplomacy in that regard, although I have great respect for the UK's representatives in Brussels."

He said the fault lay with the British Government, rather than its diplomats: "I think what also didn't help is the fact that [Cameron] returned to the UK and spent time apparently celebrating what's been described as a 'veto' with the more extreme eurosceptic MPs in his own party."

Mr Jones said in future he wanted the First Ministers of the three devolved nations to be consulted before the UK Government took a significant stance at summits.

He said: "There are mechanisms in the UK for us to meet. I was Rural Affairs Minister some years ago and we met on a monthly basis, all four ministers, to determine what the UK line would be at the upcoming council of ministers.

"So there are precedents for this and I think it does help in terms of deciding on a UK line having taken into account the views of the different parts of the UK."

He added: "Wales is less eurosceptic than England although there is a well of euroscepticism, mainly driven by the fact that so many of our people here read the eurosceptic press from London.

"Clearly there is an element of euroscepticism here but people can see the difference that European money has made to the Welsh economy and they do tend to take a different view.

"For example, parties that support UK withdrawal from the European Union get far less support than is the case in many parts of England.

"As I've said many times to people in Wales over the years: the European Union is a major market for our produce and the rules that govern the European Union are drawn up by it.

"Better to be part of it and be part of drawing up those rules than be outside and have to observe those rules anyway.

"When that's explained to people they tend to get a better idea of how important it is that there is a strong UK voice in Europe.

"I think we would sit more easily in a Europe which had a different structure, which is more federal.

"But that said, it's absolutely crucial that as the Union moves forward that firstly it's transparent and secondly its own citizens feel they have an influence on what the Commission, for example, does. And that isn't the case at the moment in many ways.

"One of the criticisms that is often made is that people aren't against the idea of Europe but they feel they aren't able to influence the decisions that take place in Brussels. I think that is a big challenge for politicians in the future: to make sure that the EU citizens feel more connected with the EU's structure." Asked whether the planned imposition of stricter economic governance rules across the eurozone represented a loss of sovereignty for nation states, Mr Jones said: "In many ways there are a number of member states in the EU that have lost their sovereignty to the financial markets.

That's the reality of the situation. It's not the case for example that governments of Italy, Greece and Spain have complete freedom of manoeuvre.

As we know, we've seen what kind of yields the financial markets are looking at when it comes to those government bonds.

"It's better for the situation to be managed on a political basis rather than, to my mind, for each country to be left at the whims of the financial markets and having to struggle on their own.

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Carwyn Calls on Cameron to Tone Down His Celebration of Euroscepticism; JONES SAYS ECONOMIC CRISIS IS EUROPEAN, NOT EUROZONE
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