Get in real world, PM tells Europe

Prime Minister David Cameron said the proposed deal for the EU budget was not good enough (AP)

Prime Minister David Cameron said the proposed deal for the EU budget was not good enough (AP)

First published in National News © by

David Cameron has told Europe it must get in the "real world" as talks over a long-term budget settlement collapsed.

The Prime Minister said the offer on the table was "just not good enough", and hit out at eurocrats for failing to come up with even a "single euro" in savings.

Mr Cameron said he had come under concerted pressure to give up part of Britain's EU rebate, but insisted he had "successfully defended" it. The summit was called to a halt after two days of talks failed to bridge deep divisions over spending priorities for the next seven years.

Mr Cameron said he was confident a deal could be done at a later date, but insisted it would not be "at any cost". At a press conference in Brussels, Mr Cameron said the deal offered was unacceptable to a number of other countries, not just Britain.

"All of these countries are net contributors to the EU. In other words, like Britain, they write the cheques. Together, we had a very clear message - 'We are not going to be tough on budgets at home just to come here and sign up to big increases in European spending'."

Mr Cameron said it was not acceptable to "tinker around the edges" when spending needs to be cut. He added: "But we still believe a deal is absolutely do-able. Freezing budget is not an extreme position."

The Prime Minister said Britain had cut the Civil Service to help rein in public spending while Brussels continued "to exist as if it is in a parallel universe" with high pay and perks for EU staff.

"Frankly the idea that the EU institutions are unwilling to even consider these sorts of changes is insulting to European taxpayers. "In terms of the rebate, I made absolutely clear from the outset that the British rebate that Margaret Thatcher secured was not up for negotiation."

Invited to make an unambiguous statement that he would not take Britain out of the EU, Mr Cameron said: "What I have said is very clear - I support our membership of the EU, but I don't support the status quo.

"I believe we need a new settlement and I think the opportunities for that new settlement will grow as the countries of the single currency are clearly going to have to do more things together, to change their arrangement. So I think there will be opportunities for us to seek that fresh settlement, I think there will be opportunities to then have fresh consent for that settlement, to have a positive vision of what I want us to achieve in Europe."

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