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
Life and Style
food + drink
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
News
UK Border Control
i100
Sport
boxing
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
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: Office Junior / Assistant

£7800 - £13455 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A career opportunity has become ...

Recruitment Genius: Product Advisor - Automotive

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to the consistent growth of...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Automotive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity exists for an ex...

Recruitment Genius: Renewals Sales Executive - Automotive

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity exists for an ou...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn