The Prime Minister’s Spokesperson updated the assembled press on the European Council meeting. She said that the main agenda items would include: an update on Libya and progress on the campaign; a discussion on how Europe can support Japan; a wider discussion on Eurozone governance issues; and a discussion on the wider economic growth agenda.
Asked if the UK would contribute if there was a bailout for Portugal, the PMS said that this was a hypothetical situation and that discussions were going to take place at the European Council. The PMS confirmed that there had been no request for support.
Asked if it was still the case as stated at the time of the Irish bailout, that Ireland would be the last country the UK would bail out, the PMS said that existing arrangements were in place in regards the last Government. The PMS said that Ireland was a different case because of its closeness to Britain and importance as a trading partner.
Asked for the guest list for the Libya summit, the PMS said those details would be provided by the Foreign Secretary once confirmed.
Asked whether the UK was taking part in the economic governance process, the PMS referred to the letter the Prime Minister had written regarding growth. The PMS confirmed that the objectives outlined in the letter included wanting to ensure that the single market works, but also that Eurozone issues are for Eurozone countries to discuss.
Asked if a treaty change would need UK agreement, the PMS said that discussions will be ongoing and that we should wait to see what comes out of them.
Asked if under the existing arrangements, whether the UK is liable to support Portugal if asked, the PMS said the speak to the Treasury about those details. The PMS confirmed that the mechanism does exist and then referenced the Prime Minister’s comments on the issue at the European Council in December 2010 where he stated his determination to ensure that when a permanent mechanism starts, Britain’s liability to bail out Eurozone countries would end.
Asked whether there had been any contact with the Portuguese Prime Minister, the PMS said no but that it was expected he would be attending the European Council.