France - UK - Germany

Europe must safeguard euro, says French PM

Reuters/Toby Melville

French Prime Minister François Fillon says that France and Germany are ready to do everything to ensure the stability of the eurozone. And he urged Britain to back deeper European integration to save the euro or risk disaster in its own economy.

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Speaking on Thursday at the start of his first visit to Britian since he became premier in 2007, Fillon stressed that protecting the single currency was an absolute political and economic priority for the European Union.

He told business leaders at a meeting in London that "the euro area is Europe's monetary heart, and no one should have any doubt about the determination of the whole European Union to safeguard it".

His comments come amid investor unease that the debt crisis which left Greece and Ireland needing multi-billion-euro bailouts last year, could spread to Portugal and even larger economies such as Spain, Belgium and Italy.

After pulling off a successful bond sale on Wednesday worth 1.25 billion euros, Portugal said it had passed a key test of its credit standing on international markets.

In an interview in The Times newspaper ahead of a meeting with Prime Minsiter David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Fillon said Europe was now at an historic turning point.

"The real question right now is whether we keep building on this adventure of whether we leave it at that," he is quoted as saying.

He said the EU needed to put in place an economic system of governance for the eurozone.

"Great Britain is not part of the eurozone," he said. "At the same time the decision we will take will have great importance to Britain."

Although Britain has not adopted the single European currency, it is a major contributor to the International Monetary Fund-European Union bailout of Ireland, which is a Eurozone member.

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