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Britain to the eurozone: Get your act together

UK finance chief George Osborne called on his European neighbors to put their 'house in order' as Britain sees some promising economic gains.

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“Clearly, in the opinion of many continental Europeans it was the British government’s fierce defense of city [financial] interests and its continuing refusal to accept a need for tougher regulation that was one of the key factors that led us to the financial disaster in 2008," he says.

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Mr. Klau, who coauthored a report recently advocating a greater pooling of the eurozone’s resources and shared economic sovereignty, predicts continuing uncertainty in the bloc amid a “pattern of divergence” involving relatively strong growth by Germany and the states around it but “dire prospects” for more peripheral eurozone countries.

By contrast, Mr. Cameron predicted Thursday that Britain's path to a sustainable recovery was within reach, although it would be tough.

Still under siege from opposition claims that headlong austerity will choke off the fragile recovery, he defended his plan to all but eliminate the budget deficit within five years and said a budget in March would focus on helping the private sector take up the strain.

His comments, made in a speech in northern England ahead of a bell-weather election for a vacant parliamentary seat, came after figures on Tuesday showed manufacturing hitting a 16-year high as a weaker pound boosted demand for British goods abroad.

Not out of the woods quite yet

To be sure, voices warning that the British economy is far from out of the woods yet are plentiful.

A report Thursday by the Markit/CIPS Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), the same source for the impressive manufacturing figure earlier this week, said that the overall economy had stagnated in December.

There is particular concern over the state of Britain’s service sector, which shrank in December for the first time in 20 months, although it is agreed that bad weather played a part as hotels and restaurants suffered from the snow.

Nevertheless, the lopsided nature of Britain’s recovery remains a worry.

"There is a strong indication that UK economic growth is completely reliant upon export sales while domestic demand has wilted," Markit's chief economist, Chris Williamson, said in a press release.

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