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European Union

UK finance minister threatens European Union exit, once again

British Finance Minister George Osborne has reiterated his stance that the UK might have to exit the European Union, should necessary reforms not come about. He said caring about the eurozone was not enough.

Addressing a conference on EU reform in London on Wednesday, Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne warned failure of the European Union to improve its overall competitiveness meant the continent was falling behind powerhouse economies such as China and India.

Firing a broadside at officials in Brussels and national governments, he said "the biggest economic risk facing Europe came from the failure to reform and renegotiate."

Osborne once again went as far as to say that Britain might be forced to leave the European Union, should the rights and interests of EU members currently not in the single-currency be neglected.

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"Eurozone integration is necessary, if the euro is to survive," the minister argued. "But proper legal protection for the rights of non-euro members is absolutely necessary to preserve the single market and make it possible for Britain to remain in the EU.

"It's in no-one's interests for Britain to come to face a choice between joining the euro or leaving the European Union," Osborne said.

The finance minister's renewed EU exit threats came as Osborne remained under pressure from the euroskeptic wing of his Conservative Party, with Prime Minister David Cameron having promised to hold a referendum on EU membership by 2017, should he be re-elected next year.

hg/ph (AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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