EU SUMMIT: UK AND CZECHS REFUSE TO JOIN FISCAL COMPACT
Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel says EU leaders have taken an “important step forward”
Twenty-five of the EU's 27 member states have agreed to join a fiscal treaty to enforce budget discipline.
The Czech Republic and the UK refused to sign up. UK Prime Minister David Cameron said his government would act if the treaty threatened UK interests.
He still has “legal concerns” about the use of EU institutions in enforcing the fiscal treaty, he said.
The Czechs cited “constitutional reasons” for their refusal, France's President Nicolas Sarkozy said.
Czech President Vaclav Klaus, a Eurosceptic, may be reluctant to sign the treaty, analysts say.
The goal is much closer co-ordination of budget policy across the EU to prevent excessive debts accumulating.
Germany – the eurozone's biggest lender and most powerful economy – was particularly keen to get a binding treaty adopted to enforce budget rules.
The treaty will empower the European Court of Justice to monitor compliance and impose fines on rule-breakers.
The treaty also spells out the enhanced role of the European Commission in scrutinising national budgets.
British PM David Cameron: “We will not be ratifying this treaty and it places no obligation on the UK”
The Czech Republic is not yet in the euro, but like the other new EU member states it is committed to joining.
European Union leaders also discussed ways to stimulate economic growth despite the stringent austerity budgets in many countries – and focused on how to reduce unemployment across the eurozone.
The UK and Denmark are the only states with explicit opt-outs from the euro.
Mr Cameron said “it's good that the new treaty is absolutely explicit and clear that it cannot encroach on the competences of the EU”.