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UK Politics

Herman van Rompuy to meet David Cameron for talks in Downing Street


Wrangling over planned hikes in the EU budget will loom large today when European Council president Herman van Rompuy meets David Cameron for talks in Downing Street.

The Prime Minister has threatened to veto any long-term spending increase above inflation - effectively a real-terms spending freeze for the EU budget.

And a separate inflation-busting rise in EU spending approved by MEPs yesterday was described as "completely unacceptable", Downing Street said today.

The meeting comes with the question of the UK's future relations with the EU ever more closely under the political spotlight as Brussels battles to deal with the euro crisis.

Foreign Secretary William Hague warned in Berlin this week that British voters feel the EU is something that is "done to them" with Brussels sucking up powers from national governments.

Amid mounting eurosceptic pressure from within his party, Mr Cameron has suggested he will offer voters a chance after the general election to express their "fresh consent" for a new settlement.

The European Parliament this week backed a 6.8% rise in EU spending for 2013 and an overall rise of at least 5% for 2014/20, both due to be agreed before the end of the year.

The long-term budget requires unanimity among the 27 member-states, giving the UK a veto when national government leaders gather for a special European Council summit next month.

But the budget for the single year 2013 is decided by qualified majority voting, meaning Britain could be over-ruled.