Cameron says EU budget deal "achievable"

LONDON Mon Dec 10, 2012 3:00pm GMT

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron delivers his keynote speech at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham, central England October 10, 2012. REUTERS/Darren Staples

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron delivers his keynote speech at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham, central England October 10, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Darren Staples

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LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Monday he thought a deal on the European Union's multi-annual budget is reachable, highlighting what he saw as strong backing from other EU countries for his demand for billions of euros of spending cuts.

Talks to secure a deal on the seven-year budget collapsed last month over spending cuts demanded by Britain and its allies, who say that austerity measures among EU member states should also be reflected in the 27-member bloc's budget.

"I think a deal is achievable. I thought what was interesting about the last set of negotiations was that the alliance between Britain, between Holland, and Germany, was pretty strong and pretty stable," Cameron told reporters.

"If the (EU) commission and the presidency act on the instructions as it were that another multi-billions cut needs to be made in their proposals, then we could get a deal that I think would be acceptable," he added.

Talks to agree on the long-term spending plan, initially seen at 1 trillion euros, are expected to be held again early next year.

Cameron's comments come ahead of a key speech he is expected to make in the coming weeks on Britain's relationship with the EU, amid speculation that Britain is on its way out of the union.

Amid a rising tide of anti-EU feeling in Britain, the prime minister is under mounting pressure from his own Conservative Party and an increasingly eurosceptic public for a referendum on Britain's ties with the EU.

The prime minister reiterated his commitment to the bloc, ruling out what he called the "Norway option" - reducing Britain's EU ties to simply access to the single market.

"I don't want Britain to leave the EU. I think that we benefit crucially from the single market and I think it is worth understanding what leaving would involve," he said.

"You can be like Norway, and you can have full access to the single market, but you have absolutely no say over the rules of that market."

(Reporting by Mohammed Abbas and Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Stephen Addison)

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