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Greece Austerity Protests Over €13.5bn Cuts As Merkel Meets Cameron In London For EU Budget Talks

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GREECE PROTEST
Protests in Greece over austerity measures | AP

Greek MPs approved deep cuts in the country's latest round of austerity measures, deemed essential to the country's European Union membership, but riots raged on the streets of Athens as the package passed by just three votes.

Around 80,000 people demonstrated in fury outside the Greek parliament at the €13.5bn cutbacks, as 153 MPs out of the 300-seat parliament voted for the measures, and two of the ruling parties expelled MPs who had voted against the bill.

Riot police used a water cannon and tear gas to disperse protesters, who screamed and hurled petrol bombs.

greece protest

Protests in Greece over austerity measures, which passed on Thursday night

Those outside told The Independent that public sector wages, already reduced by 40 per cent, will be cut even further, employment rights will be slashed and taxes hiked.

The fury in Greece came as David Cameron he met German chancellor Angela Merkel at Downing Street, promising to fight for a "good deal" for British taxpayers on the European Union budget.

The Prime Minister declined to say whether he was urging her to back the real-terms budget cut that the Commons voted for last week.

But, ahead of their meeting, Cameron said they were "both believers that European countries have to live within their means, as well as the European Union".

"I believe it would be wrong for the European budget to increase at a time when we are having to make difficult decisions not just in Britain but all over the European Union to get our budgets back to balancing.

Speaking through an interpreter, Merkel said European leaders always had to "do something that will stand up to public opinion back home".

But pressed as to whether she would support a budget freeze, she added: "I beg leave to first discuss this with the Prime Minister. What is in my interests is that we use our money effectively."

Ahead of their meeting Cameron admitted he did not have "high hopes" of securing a deal between all 27 member states, meaning he could veto the budget.

Cameron has vowed not to return from the summit with anything less than an inflation-only increase - arguing that though he would prefer a real-terms cut, it was unrealistic to expect to get agreement.

Last week he suffered a humiliating Commons defeat when Tory eurosceptic rebels joined forces with Labour to back a non-binding motion calling for him to enter negotiations with that harder line.

"Their conversation focused on preparations for the EU budget negotiation at the European Council later this month and the options to restrain and reform EU spending," a Number 10 spokesman said.

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