David Cameron: Britain can be Proud of EU Budget Cut

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By Umberto Bacchi | February 9, 2013 4:23 AM EST

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron speaks during a news conference at the end of an European Union leaders summit meeting to discuss the European Union's long-term budget in Brussels (Reuters)

David Cameron said Britons "can be proud" of the deal reached by EU member states that will see the first ever reduction in the Union budget in history.

At the end of two days of negotiations, EU leaders carved out spending cuts for the bloc over the next seven years, agreeing to a €908bn (£768bn) ceiling from 2014 to 2020 -, 3 per cent down on current spending.

"I wanted to get at best a cut, and at worst a freeze. That is what I've achieved," Cameron said.

"The British public can be proud we've cut the credit card limit for the EU for the first time ever."

The deal was reached by the EU Council after a first unsuccessful round of talks in November. It needs to be signed off by MEPs.

"I hope the European Parliament will engage constructively with what the European Council has decided," Cameron said.

The PM said he disapproved of plans for parliament to cast a secret ballot on the budget proposal.

"I find this slightly baffling. In my book you send MPs to parliament to see how they vote. That's what parliaments are all about."

The EU Commission had originally suggested a budget of €1.03tn, 5 per cent up on the current period. That was strongly criticised by the UK and other northern European countries.

Despite the overall cut, the UK's yearly contribution to the budget has gone up - albeit at a slower rate than before but Cameron defended that rise.

"Our contributions were always going to go up, now they'll go up by less. The best way to protect the British taxpayer is to get overall spending down, which we've done," Cameron said.

"The credit card limit for the EU has been too high. At last someone's come along and said it's got to stop and we've got it down in a way that's going to constrain future spending properly."

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