Speech

Press conference: Prime Minister at European Council

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Prime Minister David Cameron gave a press conference at the European Council, speaking on energy, tax and the conflict in Syria.

The Rt Hon David Cameron

This summit has focused on two issues.

Energy policies that support competitiveness rather than impede it.

And tax systems that encourage growth but also ensure that everyone pays their fair share.

Energy

First, energy.

We need secure, good value energy supplies so that our businesses can thrive in the global race and consumers can benefit from lower prices.

Today we agreed that means completing the single market in energy so that we drive competition between suppliers and in turn force prices down.

And it also means making the most of indigenous resources such as shale gas.

Europe has 75% of the shale that the United States has and yet the Americans are drilling 10,000 wells a year while here in Europe we’re drilling less than 100.

So it’s no surprise that over the last decade, Americans have increased their energy from shale from just 1% to 30%.

And Europeans now pay twice what Americans pay for wholesale gas.

So we have got to ensure that old rules designed for different technologies do not hold us back today.

Yes we have to extract shale in a safe and sustainable manner and meet our carbon emission targets.

But these are new challenges, new technologies and today we have put down a marker unnecessary regulation must not get in the way.

It’s a first step and there’s much more still to do exploit shale’s full potential.

Tax

Second, we discussed how we can work together to crackdown on tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance.

I’ve put this at the heart of the agenda for the G8 summit in Lough Erne next month.

And there is real momentum building behind it, to support growth in our economies and lift developing countries out of poverty.

We have a real opportunity to make this Summer a turning point when we break down the walls of corporate secrecy.

So today, we have agreed to push for a new international standard of automatic information exchange between tax authorities…

…And to help those authorities to fight tax evasion with new standards to give them information on who really owns and controls each and every company.

We have also agreed that there should be rapid progress to reform international tax rules so that they reflect today’s globalised economy.

Let’s be clear the best solution here is to establish global rules where all multinationals make a full and fair contribution.

Syria

Finally, I also raised the brutal conflict in Syria and our efforts to find a political solution.

I fully support the US-Russian plan to hold a peace conference as soon as possible.

But that mustn’t be an excuse to let up the pressure on Assad.

It’s vital that we persuade both sides to engage and to come to the negotiating table.

That’s why it’s more important than ever to change the EU arms embargo so that we can do more to shape the moderate opposition and up the pressure on Assad.

He must be in doubt that there will be no military victory. The only way out is to come to the table and negotiate a political transition that puts in place a new government that Syrians can support and trust.

Published 22 May 2013