DAVID Cameron will not accept a deal on the EU budget at this week’s summit in Brussels unless it freezes or cuts European spending, his spokesman said yesterday.
The statement came as French president François Hollande warned of a tough meeting if countries including Britain continue to demand drastic cuts to the budget without making concessions themselves.
Talks on the Euro budget for 2014-20 broke down in November, with a frustrated Mr Cameron calling on the EU to start living “in the real world” by recognising the need for financial belt-tightening in line with national cutbacks.
Ahead of the second attempt to break the deadlock which begins tomorrow, the Prime Minister’s spokesman made it clear that Britain is still holding out for further reductions in the £756 billion budget being sought by the European Commission. And he left no doubt that Mr Cameron is ready to block a deal in Brussels if he does not secure at least a real-terms freeze in the budget.
“We are working with a number of our allies, who all believe that spending needs to come down further,” the spokesman told a regular media briefing in Westminster. “If it doesn’t budge, then a deal isn’t going to be do-able.”
Countries including Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany, are also opposed to increases in the EU budget, said the spokesman. Mr Cameron and German chancellor Angela Merkel confirmed their agreement on the issue in a phone call on Sunday. But in an address to the European Parliament, Mr Hollande said that while the 2014-20 EU budget of a trillion euros was open to some savings, he insisted the leaders at tomorrow’s summit should not compromise innovation and development.
In remarks that could be seen as targeting Mr Cameron, Mr Hollande said: “There are those who want to see cuts, others – possibly the same – who want guarantees on their own rebate.
“I have been told a solution cannot happen with Britain. But why should one country decide for 26 others? Indeed, we could have agreed at the last European summit,” Mr Hollande added. “In order to let people say that this failure was a victory, we let it happen.”
Mr Hollande also chided Mr Cameron for a recent speech where he pledged to renegotiate relations with the EU and questioned the fundamental philosophy of the EU.
The French president said the EU was “a project where we cannot keep on arguing about what is already there and calling everything into question at every step”.
Mr Cameron irritated the commission in November by targeting Eurocrats’ pay and perks, and suggesting numbers of European civil servants should be cut.
The European Commission’s opening bid for an overall budget ceiling of ¤1,000bn (£860bn) was pegged back to £756bn before the last effort at a deal collapsed.
Tomorrow, Mr Cameron will be seeking much more – including cuts in the controversial Common Agricultural Policy, (Cap) which absorbs 40 per cent of EU spending – much of it in the form of direct subsidies to farmers.
MEPs are due today to vote in favour of a new Cap budget which includes increasing some farm subsidies despite the economic crisis.