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EU needs bolder steps to boost economy


British Prime Minister David Cameron urged Europe Thursday to be "bolder" to shake off its economic woes, saying it should explore free trade deals with the United States and Africa.

In a speech to the annual World Economic Forum in the Swiss ski resort of Davos, Cameron said the European Union must be more competitive if it is to overcome the crisis in the eurozone.

"This is a time to show the leadership our people are demanding. Tinkering here and there and hoping we'll drift to a solution simply won't cut it any more," he was to say, according to extracts released by Downing Street.

"Here's the checklist. All proposed EU measures tested for their impact on growth. A target to reduce the overall burden of EU regulation.

"A new proportionality test to prevent needless barriers to trade in services and slash the number of regulated professions in Europe. The truth is we can't afford to wait any longer."

Cameron will also call for an new approach to world trade, including the forging of trade deals by a "coalition of the willing" within the 27-member EU if necessary.

"This would mean countries who want to, could forge ahead with more ambitious deals of their own. There are some proposals out there already -- like the Trans-Pacific Partnership. And why not an ambitious deal between Europe and Africa?"

He said the bloc should "look at options for agreement between the EU and the US, where a deal could have a bigger impact than all of the other agreements put together."

He also called for the finalisation of FTAs with India, Canada and Singapore by the end of the year.

But goodwill towards Cameron is in short supply among European Union leaders after he refused to back a fiscal discipline pact involving all the other 26 member nations in December.

His speech also comes a day after he called for major reform of the European Court of Human Rights, questioning its overturning of decisions by democratic member states and saying it should stop wasting time on "trivial cases".