Cameron: EU budget deal 'good for Britain'

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MPs have welcomed a real-terms cut in the EU's next seven year budget, after a statement from the prime minister on the deal reached at the European Council summit.

Following two days of talks, EU leaders agreed on a 908bn euros (£768bn) budget limit for 2014 to 2020 - about 3% lower than the current seven-year period.

David Cameron said the deal was good for Britain, good for Europe and "above all a good deal for all our taxpayers".

Labour welcomed news of the budget cut - the first real-terms cut in the EU's history - as MPs discussed the deal on 11 February 2013.

The European Commission originally proposed overall spending of 1.03 trillion euros (£870bn) over the period - a 5% increase over the current period.

Mr Cameron said he had "fought off" attempts from all sides to protect the UK's multi-billion pound annual rebate on its contributions, declaring it "safe".

The budget must now be voted on by the European Parliament.

The parliament's president, Martin Schulz, has indicated MEPs could seek to block the deal. He has proposed a secret ballot - which Mr Cameron described as "an extraordinary concept".

Mr Cameron was congratulated by his Conservative backbenchers, as well as Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs.

Sir Malcolm Rifkind said he had been successful in winning the "most important reform" in the EU budget since Margaret Thatcher at Fontainebleau in 1984.

Bill Cash, Conservative chair of the European Scrutiny Committee, described it as a "significant success".

The deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, Simon Hughes, said the party's MEPs would back the deal in the vote in the European Parliament.

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