UK slammed for fence-sitting on EU

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iol pic wld David Cameron REUTERS British Prime Minister David Cameron. Photo: Toby Melville

London - Germany's ambassador to Britain, Georg Boomgaarden, took a swipe at Britain's attitude to the European Union on Monday, saying its politicians should stop 'fence-sitting' and clarify its future in the 27-nation bloc.

“We want Britain to be a strong and committed full member of the EU and not sitting on the fence,” Boomgaarden said at a seminar on Germany's economy organised by news provider Bloomberg in London.

Prime Minister David Cameron faces increasing pressure from right-wing rebels in his Conservative Party to let Britons vote on whether they want Britain to remain in the EU, which is struggling to contain a three-year-old debt crisis.

Critics in both his own party and the Labour opposition have accused him of sending vague and conflicting messages on the issue, after he said last week he was ready to hold a referendum - two days after appearing to rule out such a vote.

Boomgaarden said British politicians “should have the courage to tell the British people” where they stood on the EU single market.

He took issue with the British media for infering that southern European states had scored a victory over Germany at a euro zone summit last month which agreed that the region's rescue funds could be used to buy bonds in the secondary market to contain a debt crisis threatening to engulf Spain and Italy.

The euro zone comprises the 17 EU nations that use the euro single currency, and Britain - which stayed out of the zone - has repeatedly urged the zone's members to act faster and more decisively to sort out their problems.

“It's rather unacceptable to claim a decisive vote on topics where Britain doesn't participate. It would be helpful if Britain develops an idea of what its role in a future EU is going to be,” Boomgaarden said. - Reuters

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