David Cameron says European Union must stop 'picking the pockets' of its citizens

 

David Cameron has challenged the European Union to stop “picking the pockets” of the public today after launching a diplomatic drive to win the support of other EU leaders for a freeze in spending by Brussels.

With three days to go to an EU summit to settle its 2014-20 budget, Downing Street disclosed the Prime Minister had “hit the phones” in an effort to find allies in what threaten to be tortuous and acrimonious negotiations.

Mr Cameron spoke to the leaders of France, Germany, Poland, Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands, while Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg contacted his counterparts in Finland and the Baltic States. Further contacts are planned in the run-up to the summit starting in Brussels on Thursday.

Britain is pressing for a real-terms freeze, while the European Commission – backed by many EU member states – supports an above-inflation increase. Mr Cameron has the added pressure of Tory Eurosceptics and Labour demanding a cut in budgets.

One suggestion emerging is that Britain would settle for a freeze in the budget in return for a reduction in administrative spending by Brussels – notably salary cuts for some of its top-earners

Speaking at the CBI conference in London today, Mr Cameron said: “One of the interesting things about the proposals so far in this debate about the EU budget is how little attention there has been on the central costs of the EU, the commission budget, what people get paid.”

He said: “Here in the UK I have frozen some benefits, I have frozen people's pay, I have cut some budgets by 30 per cent.

“I have actually cut the police budget by 20%. It is simply not credible to go to Europe and say we have made all these difficult decisions at home but when it comes to the European budget we are going to see it go up and up and up.

I don't think it makes you a bad European because you want a tough budget settlement in Europe.

“I think it makes you a good European. I think I have got the people of Europe on my side in arguing that we should stop picking their pockets and spending more and more money through the EU budget, particularly when so many parts of the European budget are not well spent.”

Downing Street said: “The Prime Minister believes we can work through these details to get the right deal at this week's summit and we are ready to do that.”

The veteran Europhile Conservative minister, Kenneth Clarke, risked further inflaming Tory divisions on Europe by insisting it would be a “disaster” for Britain to leave the EU.

He said the UK's negotiating position was being undermined by the “irresponsible” debate about its continuing membership.

“We are going through a very curious stage in the national debate. For the past 20 years, the country gets near to having a nervous breakdown on the subject every now and then,” he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
sportWWE latest including Sting vs Triple H, Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns and The Undertaker vs Bray Wyatt
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor