EU budget deal still within grasp - Cameron

LONDON Mon Nov 26, 2012 9:01pm GMT

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron holds a news conference at the end of an EU leaders summit discussing the EU's long-term budget at the European Union (EU) council headquarters in Brussels November 23, 2012. REUTERS/Eric Vidal

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron holds a news conference at the end of an EU leaders summit discussing the EU's long-term budget at the European Union (EU) council headquarters in Brussels November 23, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Eric Vidal

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LONDON (Reuters) - Britain believes European Union leaders can still reach a deal to secure a long-term budget after talks collapsed last week, but spending must be cut by billions of euros if London is to back the plans, Prime Minister David Cameron said on Monday.

In comments that will appeal to rebellious anti-EU lawmakers threatening his authority and voters who see Brussels as a wasteful "gravy train", he demanded cuts to European officials' wages, pensions and perks.

"We do believe a deal is still do-able. It is in our interests to get a deal. But that deal cannot come at any cost," Cameron told parliament after EU leaders failed to agree the 2014-2020 budget, worth 1 trillion euros (811.2 billion pounds).

Cameron has played up support he received from Germany, Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands and Denmark for his calls to limit spending, seeking to avoid the isolation and hostility that often characterises Britain's fraught European relations.

Britain will seek to "galvanise a coalition of like-minded countries" to curb spending, he added.

Facing a rising tide of anti-EU feeling in Britain, Cameron is under pressure to control Eurosceptics in his ruling Conservatives after they sided with the opposition Labour Party to defeat him in a parliamentary vote seeking EU cuts.

'IT'S WAR'

Adrift from Labour in the polls, Conservatives fear rising support for the UK Independence Party (UKIP), which wants Britain to leave the EU, could hit them at national elections in 2015.

Concerns that UKIP, which has no seats in parliament, could steal Conservative votes prompted one of Cameron's senior legislators on Monday to propose an election pact.

Under the plan, Cameron would promise to hold a referendum on Britain's membership of the EU in return for UKIP not fielding candidates against Conservatives, also called the Tories.

Cameron's office distanced itself from the idea and UKIP rejected the pact.

"No deals with the Tories: it's war," said UKIP leader Nigel Farage. His party received 3 percent of the national vote in 2010.

However, it finished well ahead of Cameron's pro-European coalition partner, the Lib Dems, in a by-election this month, taking a 14 percent share.

Cameron received support on his EU position from an unexpected source - Conservative Mayor of London Boris Johnson.

An outspoken EU critic seen as a possible future challenger to Cameron, Johnson withdrew his support for a referendum on whether Britain should stay in the EU or leave.

Cameron, who wants to stay inside the EU, also opposes a so-called "in/out" vote on Europe and has talked instead of seeking voters' consent for a new EU role for Britain.

"The Tories are as split today as they've ever been," wrote Tim Montgomerie, editor of the influential ConservativeHome website. "Anything less than an in/out vote won't remove the dagger from the Tory throat that is known as UKIP."

(Additional reporting by Tim Castle; Editing by Sophie Hares)

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Comments (2)
Raymond.Vermont wrote:
The EU budget is a Federal Budget for Europe… (plain and simple)

What the UK Govt needs to do (in my view) is disconnect itself with the concept of Federal European Courts having primacy over British Law and more importantly the British Parliament.

Areas of immediate concern would be the ECHR appearing to have assumed a quasi-govt like role, which is a mandate it does not have and well beyond its remit. The UK needs to downgrade the primacy of such a court over its own parliamentary decisions.

Nov 26, 2012 10:08pm GMT  --  Report as abuse
Raymond.Vermont wrote:
UKIP is an effective pressure-point campaigning party, but I am not convinced that they are a effective vehicle to vote for within a General Election within the UK.

Where UKIP could really wield great influence is by it dedicating itself and its resources, to the European Elections in June 2014.

Great successes there, will give it a greater leverage within the UK Parliaments policy making body. UKIP needs to get people committed to voting for it within the MEP selection process, and allow it to do its magic from inside of the European Parliament.

Nov 26, 2012 10:15pm GMT  --  Report as abuse
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