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Worried non-euro EU ministers stage own Brussels talks

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(BRUSSELS) - Worried finance ministers from the 10 European Union countries not to have adopted the euro gather in Brussels on Monday to hammer out a joint position on the troubled single currency.

While finance ministers from the 17 currency partners meet in EU headquarters, their non-euro counterparts meet at the invitation of the Czech Republic in a Brussels hotel with ministerial deputies from around the 10 also assembling at the Czech embassy, diplomats said.

Officially, Monday's meeting is about drawing up a unified negotiating position for Tuesday talks among the 27 finance ministers mainly concerned with the detail of a deal struck by EU leaders to recapitalise banks that stand to lose out on their Greek debt holdings.

But one diplomat from the 10 said it was also time to address the longer-term consequences of changes stemming from the nearly two-year-old eurozone debt crisis that began in Greece.

"When the eurozone comes under one finance minister, as it soon will, the rest of the EU has to make sure it does not lose out by becoming a second-class trading partner as Brussels deals with the external world," the diplomat said.

"Trade is with the EU single market and the process of closer eurozone integration should not be allowed to distort the single market in favour of the eurozone," he said.

As EU president Herman Van Rompuy works on eventual treaty change needed to steer the troubled nearly 13-year-old currency back to health, the 10 are determined to ensure their interests are properly respected between now and a December EU summit slated to tackle the limits of that integration.

Another diplomat insisted: "If the 17 are coming together, so must we. But a problem is while we have a common interest here, we also have much that divides us."

Monday's talks between the 10 will be the second such gathering after Sweden hosted parallel discussions last month in Luxembourg as non-euro EU states increasingly articulate concern about the impact of closer eurozone integration on their economies.

Officials say such talks among the 10 will now take place routinely around increasingly frequent eurozone meetings.

Eurozone ministers may also meet on November 17 in a bid to speed work to boost their rescue fund, as well as at a planned gathering on November 29, diplomats said.

The 10 non-euro EU states are -- Britain, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Sweden.


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