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 Cameron in phone plea to leaders over EU budget

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nirvana



Number of posts : 201
Registration date : 2010-10-07

PostSubject: Cameron in phone plea to leaders over EU budget   Thu Oct 28, 2010 4:32 am

Cameron in phone plea to leaders over EU budget
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron Mr Cameron has embarked on a diplomatic offensive by telephone ahead of the EU summit

Prime Minister David Cameron has phoned several of his European counterparts, hours before the start of the EU summit in Brussels, urging them to reject a big rise in the organisation's budget.

The PM spoke to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy among others and argued for the "lowest possible" increase.

His plea came amid fears that a 6% rise would cost the UK another £900m a year.
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Related stories

* PM vows to fight EU budget rise
* EU split over treaty change plan

Labour has accused him of failing to stand up for British interests.

Mr Cameron also spoke to European Council president Herman Van Rompuy, Swedish prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, and Belgian prime minister Yves Leterme.

The European Council has already agreed in principle to a 2.9% rise in the £107bn EU budget for 2011 - a figure the prime minister is expected to agree to, despite previous UK demands that it should be frozen.
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Analysis
Nick Robinson BBC political editor

This is the prime minister's first big European test at a summit which will be a tale of two competing agendas.

One - promoted by France and Germany - seeks a change to EU treaties to strengthen the rules governing the Eurozone so as to avoid a repeat of the crisis which began in Greece.

The other - being pushed by Britain - is to persuade EU leaders to reject plans for a 6% rise in its own budget - plans promoted by the European Parliament.

Mr Cameron is playing a high stakes political game - he has decided not to block any treaty change nor to hold a referendum on it on the grounds that the new rules will not affect Britain. That's a decision which will infuriate many in his own party.

He hopes they may join him in concluding that what matters more is a fight for what Mrs Thatcher once called "our money".

* Nick Robinson: Cameron's dilemma

But with members of the European Parliament and European Commission calling for a 6% rise, the final figure is likely to be somewhere in between.

Even the lower figure would see the UK's contribution grow by more than £400m, at a time of widespread Whitehall cuts.

The BBC's Europe editor, Gavin Hewitt, says the summit - Mr Cameron's first as prime minister - will reveal just how hard he is prepared to fight his corner in Europe.

The budget is not on the summit's formal agenda, but is likely to be widely discussed in meetings between government heads and officials.

Conservative Eurosceptics have called on the government to fight for a freeze or cut in the budget, and Labour has accused it of failing Britain.

Shadow Europe minister Wayne David said: "In government, Labour argued strongly for a freeze in this year's European Union budget, and Labour MEPs voted against the increase in the European Parliament.

"The Conservatives have talked tough on this issue but they haven't got a result.

"Instead they have entered government isolated, and failed to stand up for the British interest in their first budget test.

"The Tories are desperate to not talk about Europe, but their failure to speak up is costing Britain."
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“Start Quote

What the eurozone doesn't want again is a Greek-style surprise”

End Quote Gavin Hewitt BBC Europe Editor

* EU fighting over reform

The summit will also throw up the issue of imposing sanctions on countries that run up huge deficits to avoid a repeat of the Greek debt crisis.

Referendum

France and particularly Germany believe that a new permanent mechanism for handling financial crises requires a change to the Lisbon Treaty.

The UK is outside the Eurozone, so would not be affected by any treaty change on sanctions.

But David Cameron is aware that if the treaty change happens, MPs on his own party might see it as an opportunity to push for other changes in a bid to bring some powers from Brussels to Westminster.

The government has pledged to hold a referendum on any future European treaty which saw the UK conceding any of its legislative powers to Brussels.

The treaty change would bring in sanctions for countries overshooting the maximum debt level allowed under the EU's Stability and Growth pact (SGP) - 60% of gross domestic product.

The sanctions would be tightened progressively, if a country failed to address its debt problems within months.





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