3 Nov 2011
British taxpayers could be asked to put more cash behind efforts to shore up confidence in the global economy, amid the continuing crisis in the eurozone, it has been confirmed.
Prime Minister David Cameron used the G20 summit in France to press for an increase in the resources available to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to support ailing economies.
The summit opened against the backdrop of remarkable scenes in Athens, where Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou dramatically signalled he was ready to call off the referendum which is threatening to derail the eurozone bailout of his country’s economy.
Updates from Greece were regularly reported to the meeting of heads of government and finance ministers of the Group of 20 leading economies in Cannes.
Some ministers were consulting their BlackBerrys during the talks to check on the latest reports from Athens, amid confusion over whether Mr Papandreou had resigned, cancelled the ballot or called for a national unity government.
Chancellor George Osborne said that eurozone leaders in the G20 – including France, Germany and Italy – had shown “a real sense of urgency” about resolving the sovereign debt crisis which has plagued the single currency area for two years.
Britain was maintaining pressure on the 17 eurozone states to implement the measures in the October 26 bailout package, including a 50% write-off of Greece’s debt and an increase in the eurozone’s bailout fund to a massive one trillion euro (£870 billion).
But Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne stood firm on their insistence that Britain would not contribute directly or indirectly to a eurozone bailout fund.
Sources said it was clear that “strong political pressure” was put on Mr Papandreou to sort out the obstacles to a bailout when he met French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel for eve-of-summit crisis talks.
And US President Barack Obama said it was vital to use the G20 meeting to nail down details of the rescue plan. “The most important aspect of our task over the next few days is to resolve the financial crisis here in Europe,” said Mr Obama.