Barroso lashes out at British euro-sceptics
(STRASBOURG) - European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso on Tuesday angrily told British Conservative lawmakers he was puzzled by their gloating over troubles in the eurozone.
He also rejected demands by members of Prime Minister David Cameron's party for a referendum on Britain's EU membership.
"Let me tell you that it is puzzling that you seem to delight in the difficulties of the euro area," Barroso told the British Tories in the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
"And this is in stark contrast with the position taken by your leader Prime Minister Cameron."
About 100 Conservative lawmakers wrote to Cameron last week calling for a legal commitment to holding a referendum in the next parliament.
Cameron has rejected an immediate referendum but signalled he is open to a vote on renegotiating British ties to the union.
Barroso said that "there is a consensus, including those states outside of the euro area, on the need to strengthen the euro area. It would be a complete mistake to try to divide the euro area from the rest of the EU."
He added: "I am also puzzled with the ease with which some of you are recommending some member states to leave the euro."
He reminded them that Cameron had said it was in Britain's national interest that debt-stricken Greece stays in the euro.
Barroso was taking aim especially at Conservative MEP Martin Callanan, who has criticised bank bailouts as wasting taxpayers' money and advocated eurozone exits for some countries.
Callanan said: "There is an alternative: it is for the eurozone to reduce in size so that some countries have the ability to devalue their way back to relative competitiveness."
He added that this "would be a political disaster for the euro's cheerleaders, but for some countries it remains the least worst option".
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