UK Politics

David Cameron urges MEPs to back EU budget cut

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Media captionDavid Cameron says he protected Britain's rebate at EU budget talks

David Cameron has urged British Euro MPs to back the EU budget deal, which will see its first ever real-terms cut.

Leaders agreed on a 908bn euros (£768bn) budget limit for 2014 to 2020 - about 3% lower than the current seven-year period.

The deal still needs to be approved by the European Parliament, which critics have warned could block the package.

Mr Cameron said Members of the European Parliament needed to recognise that it was "right for Europe's taxpayers".

Labour leader Ed Miliband welcomed the agreement, but said more needed to be done to promote growth in Europe.

'Rebate is safe'

Friday's agreement - which required the backing of all 27 members - represents the first reduction in the EU's multi-annual budget in its history and comes after EU leaders failed to agree a deal in November amid deep divisions over proposed austerity measures.

The prime minister told MPs the UK had successfully rejected proposals by Europe's "big spenders" for an increase in the budget, as he fought alongside Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden for a reduction in the EU's "credit card limit".

A failure by Member of the European Parliament (MEPs) to back the agreement would be a "very serious situation", Mr Cameron said, and would mean the 2013 budget would be rolled over into 2014, creating uncertainty over future EU spending.

He said: "I would encourage every MEP from right across the United Kingdom, whatever their party, to support this budget because it is better to have a deal than have no deal and this deal is right for Europe's taxpayers."

During the negotiations, Mr Cameron said he had fended off repeated attacks on the UK's rebate, which he declared "safe".

'Plan for growth'

Mr Cameron added: "Reform of EU spending is a long-term project, but this deal does deliver important progress.

"Working with allies we took real steps towards reform in the European Union. It is a good deal for Britain, a good deal for Europe and above all a good deal for all our taxpayers. That's what we have delivered."

The European Commission originally proposed overall spending of 1.03 trillion euros (£870bn) over the period, a 5% increase on the current period, which the UK argued was unacceptable at a time most national governments were cutting their own budgets.

MPs from all parties had urged Mr Cameron to push for an unprecedented cut in spending over the seven-year period.

Mr Miliband said: "At a time when so many budgets are being cut at home, this House voted for a real-terms cut last October and it was right to do so."

But, he said, Europe and Britain needed a plan for jobs and growth which should be the priority in the "months and years ahead".

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