BRUSSELS, March 2 (UPI) -- European leaders signed a new deal in a bid to salvage the eurozone amid continuing fears that new debt and liquidity crises could hit the region amid continuing financial and political uncertainties.
The so-called financial compact marked two desertions -- Great Britain and the Czech Republic. Both refused to join extensive commitments to stringent new budgetary cutbacks that are aimed at preventing European debt ballooning out of control.
The eurozone crisis has already spread to include not only Greece but also Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain. Tens of billions of dollars have been poured into sovereign debt bailouts in those countries.
The latest unemployment figures from the 17-nation eurozone showed there was no let-up in job losses and growth remained elusive.
Further political problems loom because the new financial compact, equated to a new treaty by some EU officials, must be ratified by individual eurozone states. The compact is to be signed in March.
Current plans call for the compact to enter into force Jan. 1, if at least 12 eurozone countries ratified it.
Non-signatory Britain used the talks to launch a new attack on the EU's notorious bureaucracy and red tape, which British Prime Minister David Cameron argued was part of the problem. Cameron said his proposals for reform were ignored in Brussels.
New checks and balances enshrined in the financial compact, including penalties for member nations that exceed their budgets, will increase rather than trim EU bureaucracy, critics said.
The framework calls for member nations to scrutinize each other's budgets and report violations to the European Court of Justice. The court will check whether nations implement the budget rule and will fine them up to 0.1 percent of gross domestic product if they fail to do so.
Critics called the framework unwieldy and tough to implement.
Member nations that fail to ratify the compact will also lose the right to future bailouts, but critics question how that would work in practical terms. The eurozone nations are interconnected in more ways than it is possible for the European Union to monitor or control, analysts said.
European Council President Herman Van Rompuy denied Britain was cold-shouldered but critics said European leaders appeared more intent on winning over increasingly restive voters rather than implementing reforms that could induce growth.
The electorate's mood in Germany, which is fronting most of the eurozone rescue efforts, is turning nastier, critics and media reports indicated.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has seen partnership with France cut down by fast-faced political developments that are seen to confront French President Nicolas Sarkozy before April presidential election. Sarkozy is trailing behind Socialist challenger Francois Hollande.
Opponents of Sarkozy triggered a riot in the southwestern town of Bayonne, and also revived a Basque separatist threat in the region, which reaches into northern Spain.