Cameron anger at EU budget deadlock

David Cameron faces more months of tough negotiations as he tries to secure a seven-year freeze in the European Union budget after this week's summit broke up without a deal.

The Prime Minister warned Europe it must live in the "real world" after talks at the Brussels gathering collapsed and said the offer on the table was "just not good enough".

Another summit will now be held in the New Year, by which time the EU's 27 members will hope to have narrowed their differences enough to strike an agreement in January or February.

At a post-summit press conference, Mr Cameron hit out at eurocrats for failing to come up with even a "single euro" in savings from their own pay and perks regime.

The EU's leaders abandoned their talks on the second day in Brussels when it became clear that the gaps between national demands over spending priorities were too wide. But Mr Cameron was far from isolated in seeking "at worst a freeze, at best a cut" in the EU's spending levels for 2014-2020.

As the talks began on Friday, the leaders were looking at a seven-year budget "envelope" of 940 billion euros (£756 billion) for 2014-2020 - a reduction of 60 billion euros (£48 billion) in what the European Commission wanted. It was also nearly five billion euros (£3.8 billion) lower than the budget ceiling in the previous 2007-2013 seven-year spending deal.

But Downing Street said that previous ceiling was never reached, so the "cut" is in real terms, not a saving.

Mr Cameron wanted to see another 25 billion euro or more shaved off the total, but a revised compromise last night kept the same total but shuffled spending figures around within it.

Rebuffed on the size of the budget, unable to win even symbolic reduction in eurocrats' salaries and pensions, and still facing a threat to the UK's rebate from proposed changes, Mr Cameron joined German chancellor Angela Merkel in preferring to call time on the talks rather than sit in Brussels all weekend getting nowhere.

Others agreed, although poorer central European countries benefiting most from a bigger budget were prepared to stay on, judging that a postponement will almost certainly mean a budget adjustment downwards when the talks resume.

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