Cameron: We have cut EU's 'credit card limit'
DAVID CAMERON has hailed a real-terms cut in the European Union's next seven-year budget.
The Prime Minister said the British public "can be proud" that the credit limit for Brussels spending had been brought down for the first time in the history of the EU.
After hours of tortuous negotiations over the past two days, the latest EU summit broke up yesterday with an agreement that spending for 2014/2020 would be 908 billion euros (£773 billion).
Mr Cameron said spending for 2014-2020 would be 24 billion euros lower than during the last seven-year period.
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"I think the British public can be proud that we have cut the seven-year credit card limit for the European Union for the first time ever," he told an end-of-summit press conference.
Summit chairman Herman Van Rompuy earlier took to Twitter to declare a budget deal done.
"Deal done! European Council has agreed on MFF (Multi-annual Financial Framework) for the rest of the decade. Worth waiting for," he tweeted.
Mr Cameron said the final deal was 80 billion euros (£67 billion) lower than the original proposal on the summit table in November, when talks collapsed without agreement.
The European Commission had pressed for a seven-year budget increase from the current 943 billion euros (£797 billion) for the financial period 2007-14 to 988 billion euros (£835 billion). But hours of hard talking got that down to 908.4 billion (£768.2 billion) – an overall reduction in spending for 2014-20 of 35 billion euros (£29 billion).
What resulted was a "budget for growth", boosting energy projects, research and development, while still helping poorer member states – all the while leaving the British budget rebate intact.
"Attempts to undermine the British rebate have been made again and again recently, on every side," said Mr Cameron. "I have fought off these attempts and the rebate is safe."
But he admitted Britain's EU contributions would rise despite the budget cuts and the rebate – because, said the Prime Minister, former Labour PM Tony Blair gave away part of the rebate in a previous budget negotiation, which included payments going towards restructuring in poorer member states.
Overall, said Mr Cameron, the accord was "good for Britain and for Europe too – good for taxpayers in Britain and Europe".
The real-terms cut in the long-term budget was the first since the EU began preparing seven-year spending cycles, and he could "look people in the eye" and declare a good deal. He warned MEPs, who have the power to veto the budget, to approve the package.