France warning amid Brown EU pledge

Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown today condemned the “mistakes” of the single currency rules.

Mr Brown pledged to fight EU tax harmonisation and Brussels bureaucracy in a speech to the annual CBI conference.

He said: “We will learn from, and not repeat, the mistakes of the European Growth and Stability Pact with its focus on an annual, not long-term, perspective and its concern for short-term deficits not long-term debt.”

However, Mr Brown was told by French finance minister Nicolas Sarkozy that Britain must play a full part in Europe if it is to win economic reforms.

In a dig at the UK’s transatlantic ties, he said: “You are closer to Europe than the US and that is the reality.

“It is very difficult and very rare for a country to change its address. Your place is in Europe with your European brethren.”

Mr Sarkozy, who is tipped as a future French president, said the UK is stronger than it realised.

“Your language is spoken throughout the world. Your economy is one of the best in Europe,” he said.

“There is not one single European who believes you have anything to fear from Europe.

“We respect the fears you might have in Britain and sure, yes, in France we have some fears.

“But if we look at Britain from the outside we believe that you are actually stronger than you yourselves from the inside believe.

“And if you look at the direction of Europe history, that direction is bringing us closer together. It is not making us more apart.

“Can we come closer without losing out identity and culture? Of course. And I will go even further. It is because we can build a joint political project together that we will maintain our identity and culture.”

Earlier, Mr Brown said in his speech that he would make sure Britain’s tax regime made the country “the most competitive place for international business”.

He vowed to use the UK’s European Presidency next year to cut “costly and wasteful EU regulation”.

“I can tell you that it is in the national interest that we continue to resist inflexible barriers being added into European directives like the agency workers directive and the working time directive,” he said.

However, Mr Sarkozy said Britain must play a fuller part in Europe if it wants to achieve reforms.

“If you think that Europe doesn’t resemble you enough, then I think you have no choice,” he said.

“If you want Europe to resemble you more, then you have to take your place fully in Europe.

“You can’t say: ‘Well, I’ll wait until Europe looks like us and then we’ll join it.’ No, because if you do that there is no chance that Europe will ever look like you.

“But if you actually are at the heart of Europe then there is a chance that Europe will start to look like you a little more.

“I am saying this to you as a friend because I know what we owe to Britain in France.”

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