Monti, Cameron want EU to push for growth

Wed Jan 18, 2012 2:07pm EST
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By Keith Weir and Sven Egenter

LONDON (Reuters) - Italy and Britain called on the European Union on Wednesday to promote steps to boost economic growth and not focus solely on austerity to bring down the debt levels that have thrown the single currency into crisis.

On his first visit to Britain since taking office in November at the head of a technocratic government, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti held talks with British counterpart David Cameron, who has found himself isolated within the EU after refusing to sign up to a new treaty to tackle the euro zone crisis.

"We both believe - the UK and Italy - that adherence to fiscal discipline is a necessary condition for growth. It is not however a sufficient condition," Monti said during a speech at the London Stock Exchange.

"And we both believe that not only our individual countries but the European Union as a whole has a big role to play in order to foster economic union in a sustainable way," he added.

Monti was speaking after a closed-door meeting with financiers and investors aimed at assessing international appetite for Italian debt.

He voiced confidence that Rome's measures together with the steps taken by the euro zone as a whole would eventually get Italy off the danger list.

Speaking after meeting Monti, Cameron said he hoped the next EU summit at the end of the month would do more to ensure the proper working of the single market.

"We can start on January 30 with a really convincing set of steps on digital markets, on services markets, on energy markets, on growth tests, which will help open up all European economies and help those deficit countries deal with their deficits and help those surplus countries also make sure they are growing and expanding at the same time," Cameron said.   Continued...

<p>Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron (L) welcomes his Italian counterpart Mario Monti to 10 Downing Street in London January 18, 2012. REUTERS/Andrew Winning</p>