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European Union Budget Summit Ends In Failure And Finger Pointing

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CAMERON
AP

The European Union Budget summit has ended in failure after leaders were unable to come to an agreement on future spending.

David Cameron said the deal on the table from EU Council president Herman Van Rompuy was "just not good enough" as it did not make enough savings.

"It wasn't good enough for Britain, or a number of other countries including Germany," he said.

There was plenty of support for trimming the budget from a proposed 940 billion euros (£759bn) but no agreement on where the axe should fall.

During a second day of talks, which lasted about four hours Cameron hotly argued for more spending cuts after what he called yesterday's "tinkering" which did not go far enough.

"The idea the EU institutions are even unwilling to consider these changes is insulting to European taxpayers," he said.

"The British people would expect us to fight for the best deal for them and that is exactly what I intend to do."

And Cameron said he was not single handedly responsible for the failure of the talks. "This wasn't Britain as some sort of lone actor, the Swedes, the Dutch, the others ... of course we want a deal."

Hitting out at Van Rompuy, the prime minister said attempts to "put Britain in a box" and do a deal without it had failed. "The fact is Britain has strong allies fror a tough Budget outcome."

However several other EU leaders are said to have pointed the finger at the UK for the impasse after Cameron refused to back down on demands for cuts to the Budget.

And Downing Street will not be too unhappy to see reports in the papers that other European leaders blame the prime minister for scuppering the talks.

Being blamed for the failure of the talks is politically easier for Cameron than being accused of signing up to a deal that his backbenchers, and voters, do not like.

Last month the Labour Party joined forces with eurosceptic Tories to vote in favour of a real-terms cut in the Budget.

The Daily Telegraph reports that Hannes Swoboda, the president of the Socialists and Democrats group in the European parliament, blamed Britain for the “disastrous” summit.

"Regarding the additional cuts, it is unacceptable that the majority of member countries are letting themselves be blackmailed by David Cameron who is permanently threatening to block progress in the EU,” he said.

"The British prime minister, who is considering leading the UK out of the EU, is having more impact on the future of the EU than those who are committed to strengthening the EU and fulfilling their obligations."

Speaking after the summit collapsed German chancellor Angela Merkel dodged questions about what she thought of Cameron's negotiating position.

She told journalists that she had "sympathy" with the positions of all other 26 member states an would not not "single out individual countries" for blame, or credit.

EU leaders will have to hold another summit to reach a deal next year. That is likely to be in January or February, with Merkel insisting there is no crisis and there is plenty of time to resolve one of the most complex internal negotiations the EU faces every seven years.

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