David Cameron holds EU talks with Dutch leader Mark Rutte

 

David Cameron today landed in Holland for talks to shore up a key alliance in the fight to halt massive hikes in the EU budget.

The Prime Minister stopped off in the Netherlands to meet Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte during his long-planned trip to Italy.

During a 45-minute meeting in The Binnenhof, the Dutch parliament, the premiers are discussing upcoming negotiations which could see both use their veto to block a rise.

Mr Rutte is demanding a tough spending settlement and signed up to the December 2010 letter, along with Finland and Sweden, calling for budget restraint.

Last week the UK Government fired a fresh broadside at Brussels over its "breathtaking" demands for a bigger EU budget.

Talks collapsed over the 2013 budget after negotiators from the EU and member states were unable to agree on extra funding for this year.

Eurocrats want an extra nine billion (£7.2 billion) on the 2012 budget because of insufficient funds to cover all policy commitments. The EU Commission wants a budget rise in 2013 of 6.8% but most governments want it limited to 2.8%.

Mr Cameron has threatened to use his veto at a summit later this month over demands for an inflation-busting 11% increase in the EU's 2014-20 multi-year budget.

The commission is seeking a trillion euro budget for the financial programme, equating to 1.1% of the 27-nation bloc's gross income.

Tory rebels joined Labour last month calling for a real terms spending cut, landing an embarrassing defeat on the PM but the Government insists a real-terms budget freeze is more realistic.

The Prime Minister is also holding talks in Rome with Italian premier Mario Monti, completing his tour of G8 countries.

Also on the agenda will be impending EU negotiations and the wider eurozone crisis, and measures to deepen integration between single currency nations.

Mr Cameron will again push for action to ensure the single market delivers economic growth for member states.

PA

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