Latest from Brussels

Stalemate in Brussels as EU fails to agree budget

Cameron claims victory over defence of UK’s €3.6bn rebate but is accused of blackmail

Brussels

The European Union was in disarray tonight after its 27 leaders failed to reach agreement on a new €970bn budget at a two-day summit which collapsed amid acrimony.

David Cameron was accused of trying to “blackmail” other EU leaders but he was not the only stumbling block to a deal for 2014-20 and did not need to wield his veto. Crucially, there was no agreement between France, anxious to preserve farm subsidies, and Germany, which backed Britain’s call for deeper EU spending cuts along with the Netherlands and Sweden.

At a Brussels press conference, Mr Cameron fired another broadside at EU bodies after he failed to win cuts in the administration budget. “EU institutions simply have to adjust to the real world. Brussels continues to exist as if it is in a parallel universe,” he said. He complained that “not a single euro” of savings from the generous pay and perks of Brussels officials had been proposed, which was “insulting to European taxpayers.”

The Prime Minister, who argued for cuts of about €50bn over the seven-year budget period, said Britain and its allies had “stopped what would have been an unacceptable deal”.

He also preserved Britain’s €3.6bn-a-year rebate on its EU contributions, which came under attack from several countries. Mr Cameron claimed that he had seen off an attempt to isolate the UK by uniting all the other 26 EU members against it. Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, halted that idea in its tracks.

European leaders will resume talks on the budget early next year. To retain Germany’s support, Mr Cameron will be under pressure to approve plans for banking union in the eurozone at another EU summit next month.

The Prime Minister again raised the prospect of a referendum on Britain’s relationship with the EU. He said the “new settlement” that would follow the euro crisis would bring opportunities for “new consent,” adding: “I support our membership of the EU but I don’t support the status quo.”

British officials blamed the summit’s collapse on the negotiating strategy of Herman van Rompuy, who chaired the talks as President of the European Council. One claimed he had botched it, making little progress in his one-to-one talks with individual leaders and restricting the scope for discussion between the 27 leaders.

Brussels sources hit back, saying there was an unbridgeable gap among countries who are net contributors to the EU budget –notably France and Germany. Mr Van Rompuy tried to reach a compromise by switching money from investment projects to farm subsidies and grants to poor regions but failed to build momentum towards a deal.

Dismissing Mr Cameron’s latest attack on the Brussels bureaucracy,  sources insisted Mr Van Rompuy and Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, did not have a veto on the budget. They said administration accounted for only 6 per cent of EU spending, that €6bn had been cut since 2004 and staffing was being reduced by 5 per cent.

François Hollande, the President of France, said: “At past budget summits we tended to see an alliance between France, Germany and Britain to reduce the size of it. The fact there was a change in May [with his election as President] meant our positions were not as unanimous. Today the most uncompromising [countries] are talking about [cuts of] €30bn. These are not insurmountable amounts.”

Hannes Swoboda, president of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats which includes Labour MEPs, said: “It is unacceptable that the majority of member countries are letting themselves be blackmailed by David Cameron who is permanently threatening to block progress in the EU. The British Prime Minister, who is considering leading the UK out of the EU, is having more impact on the future of the EU than those who are committed to strengthening the EU and fulfilling their obligations.”

Guy Verhofstadt, a former Belgian Prime Minister and leader of the  European Parliament group that includes the British Liberal Democrats, said the UK rebate should be abolished. He said: “It is not necessary to isolate Cameron. He isolates himself.”

Ed Balls, the shadow Chancellor, said: “David Cameron has failed to persuade other European leaders to deliver the reform of and real-terms cut in the budget which MPs voted for. He is increasingly weak and isolated in Europe, just as he is at home.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
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: Business Analyst - 12 Month FTC - Entry Level

£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Chefs - All Levels

£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...

Recruitment Genius: Maintenance Engineer

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive & Customer Service - Call Centre Jobs!

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

Tribal gathering

Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously

Illnesses, car crashes and suicides

Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously
Srebrenica 20 years after the genocide: Why the survivors need closure

Bosnia's genocide, 20 years on

No-one is admitting where the bodies are buried - literally and metaphorically
How Comic-Con can make or break a movie: From Batman vs Superman to Star Wars: Episode VII

Power of the geek Gods

Each year at Comic-Con in San Diego, Hollywood bosses nervously present blockbusters to the hallowed crowd. It can make or break a movie
What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?

Perfect match

What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?
10 best trays

Get carried away with 10 best trays

Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
Wimbledon 2015: Team Murray firing on all cylinders for SW19 title assault

Team Murray firing on all cylinders for title assault

Coaches Amélie Mauresmo and Jonas Bjorkman aiming to make Scot Wimbledon champion again
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!
Ashes 2015: Angus Fraser's top 10 moments from previous series'

Angus Fraser's top 10 Ashes moments

He played in five series against Australia and covered more as a newspaper correspondent. From Waugh to Warne and Hick to Headley, here are his highlights
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high