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UK's Osborne says solution to Europe's debt crisis and action on Greece is urgently needed
MANCHESTER, England (AP) ' Europe must urgently decide on the fate of Greece's crisis-wracked economy and expand the size of the continent's bailout fund, Britain's Treasury chief George Osborne said Monday.
Addressing an annual convention of his governing Conservative Party, Osborne vowed to help press European nations into decisive action.
Finance ministers from the 17 euro countries are meeting in Luxembourg to discuss Greece's ever-worsening debt crisis ' talks that come a day after Athens confirmed its deficit will be higher than previously promised.
"The time to resolve the crisis is now. They have got to get out and fix their roof, even though it already poring with rain," Osborne told the convention in Manchester, northern England.
Eurozone nations are deciding whether to press ahead with a second euro109 billion ($145 billion) rescue package, a move favored by Germany.
"The eurozone's financial fund needs maximum firepower," said Osborne, who will fly to Luxembourg early Tuesday to join the talks. "The eurozone needs to strengthen its banks, and the eurozone needs to end all speculation, decide what they are going to do with Greece and then stick to that decision."
Osborne used his address to party supporters to defend Britain's tough austerity measures, including an 81 billion pound ($126 billion) four-year program of public spending cuts.
He acknowledged that at a time of sluggish growth, the U.K. needs its European neighbors ' the country's most important trading partners ' to correct their own ailing economies.
"Britain is not immune to all this instability. Indeed the resolution of the eurozone debt crisis is the single biggest boost to confidence that could happen to the British economy this autumn," Osborne said.
The British finance chief criticized other European nations over their decision to create the euro, insisting it had been reckless not to foresee the likely future difficulties.
"Our European neighbors plunged headlong into the euro without thinking through the consequences. How could they believe that countries like Germany and Greece could share the same currency when they have vastly different economies, and no mechanism to adjust?," Osborne said.
He said those who had in the past successfully campaigned against Britain entering the euro currency deserved praise.
"For generations to come, people will say 'Thank God Britain didn't join the euro'," Osborne said.