Clegg warns over eurozone gloating

Nick CleggNick Clegg has warned eurosceptics against gloating over the state of the eurozone as Greece struggles to break the deadlock over assembling a workable government.

Speaking in London the Deputy Prime Minister declared: "We as a country depend massively on the prosperity of the eurozone for our own prosperity, which is why I can never understand people who engage in schadenfreude - handwringing satisfaction that things are going wrong in the euro."
Answering questions during a visit to a school in Islington, he went on: "We have an overwhelming interest - whatever your views are on Brussels and the EU - in seeing a healthy eurozone.

"That's why I very much hope, buffeted by these latest scares and crises in Greece and elsewhere, that the eurozone moves as fast as possible to a sustainable solution because if the eurozone is not growing and the eurozone is not prosperous it will be much more difficult for the United Kingdom economy to gather momentum."

With eurozone ministers gathering in Brussels, and politicians in Athens still battling to avoid an election re-run, Mr Clegg commented: "Of course I hope, like everybody hopes, that the immediate crisis in Greece can be resolved one way or another because it's uncertainty that is particularly damaging to economies when things are as fragile as they are across the European Union."

Earlier, Business Secretary Vince Cable warned that any failure of the firewalls constructed to prevent Greece's economic problems spreading to other eurozone states could have a 'massive impact' on the UK.

He said: "The problem would affect us if it spread, if you had these contagion effects in Italy and Spain.

"(EU internal market commissioner Michel) Barnier has expressed optimism that those firewalls have now been created and we must hope he's right, because if they're not then of course it has a massive impact on our trade. Half of our exports go to the eurozone countries, our banks are quite substantially exposed to those countries."

Labour's shadow chancellor Ed Balls and former EU commissioner Lord Mandelson used a joint article for the Guardian to call for a "new political settlement" in Europe to correct imbalances between different parts of the eurozone.

The two former Cabinet ministers - opponents over UK membership of the euro - wrote: "The single currency needs to survive and succeed, and we are worried that Europe has so far identified only half the solution. There is a real danger that binding countries into ever larger cuts and tax rises to meet the new structural deficit and debt targets will become self-defeating, economically and politically... The reality is that there is no bad outcome for the eurozone that is not a bad outcome for Britain."
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