UK & World News
EU Budget Vote Spells Trouble For Cameron
Euro MPs have handed David Cameron a fresh headache by backing a 6.8% increase in European Union spending next year.
British Euro-MPs had joined forces to fight the plans for inflation-busting rises in EU spending over the next eight years.
But they were outnumbered in a vote in Strasbourg which endorsed European Commission demands for more cash.
Most MEPs supported the need for the 6.8% rise next year and an overall increase of at least 5% in the EU's long-term 2014-2020 budget.
These are both due to be agreed before the end of the year but Mr Cameron has threatened to veto any long-term spending plan that exceeds inflation - effectively insisting on a freeze.
The vote sets up a battle within the EU, and Austrian leader of the Socialist MEPs Hannes Swoboda made clear the PM faces an uphill struggle to get his way.
"If Mr Cameron threatens to use his veto, he should be aware that we can do it as well. The European Parliament is much stronger than Mr Cameron," he said.
The warning comes as the Prime Minister is under pressure from within his own party and from the wider public over Britain's relationship with the European Union.
Any prospect of taxpayers having to pay more into EU coffers, while enduring serious austerity at home, will further antagonise eurosceptic opinion.
British MEPs were outnumbered almost five to one in the vote. Leader of the Conservative contingent Richard Ashworth said: "We believe the EU simply must stop spending money its member states do not have.
"It is plain wrong to impose austerity regimes on Greece and Spain at the same time as trying to increase spending and borrowing across Europe as a whole. That amounts to economic illiteracy.
"Fortunately, the last word on this will be at the Council of the EU, where Britain has a right of veto. You can be sure there will be some hard bargaining to come."
Glenis Willmott, leader of the Labour MEPs, said: "In a time of crisis, when public authorities across the EU are cutting vital services, it seems that for Brussels it's still business as usual.
"The priority right now is to cut waste, go for growth and deliver a real-term freeze in the budget."
Liberal Democrat MEP George Lyon said: "It is vital that the EU budget reflects the hard financial times faced by all member states and therefore we want to see a more realistic budget that reflects the realities faced by ordinary people."
As MEPs voted in Strasbourg, Foreign Secretary William Hague used a speech in Berlin to insist that the EU budget had to be "in touch with the real world".
He warned: "People simply do not understand why there should be massive increases in the EU budget when all EU countries are trying to balance the books at home."
In the same address, he warned that British disillusionment with the EU is the "deepest it has ever been" and that people feel they have no control over it.
"People feel that the EU is a one-way process, a great machine that sucks up decision-making from national parliaments to the European level until everything is decided by the EU. That needs to change," he said.
"If we cannot show that decision-making can flow back to national parliaments, then the system will become democratically unsustainable."
Bulgarian MEP Ivailo Kalfin, the Socialist Group negotiator on the budget, insisted increases were the right step.
He said: "The EU budget is different from national budgets. The EU budget is an investment tool to support long-term development and strategic European co-operation.
"In fact, 94% of the EU budget is invested in the member states to create a European added value or in making sure the EU speaks with one voice on the world stage.
"It gives additional instruments to the member states and the regions that are crucial in times of austerity."
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what do you think?
what a load of excrement!!! get us OUT cameron. everyone vote ukip. and i'm not a nutter, i used to be tory, but definetly not labour or liberal.
Just proves how out of touch they are,arrogant ,before this whole EU lark came about nothing like whats happening,mass recession etc, has ever happened before,time to shut the expensive failure down,inc the Euro
Humbling and noble as it is that soldiers from various EU states have died fighting for European and Western civilisation interests in numerous political trouble spots, I say this: "We will pay more towards Europe if we get ANYTHING at all for Britain from actually doing so apart from increasing bills!"
All to be spent on what? - bigger salaries, cars and frauds. When are you all going to come to your senses! Vote us out now! Demand the referendum today and EVERY day.
My heart bleeds for the Eurocrats, they're having a tough time on TAX FREE measely six figure salaries plus expenses. I mean, have you seen the cost of fine vintage champagne and caviar - shocking, shocking!! Vote UKIP
No point voting UKIP. They will simply divvy the next Coalition up with the Tories:)
WHATS YOU SOLUTION THEN?
I don't think you know anything about UKIP - In my local constituency there are more ex labour and liberals than tories. DO some research!
Dave tell me what ukip are going to do apart from get out of the EU
Referendum NOW! Leave this failed miserable socialist experiment!
David just stop dithering and call an immediate referendum. Get us out now.
yeah!! time to go dave ................... you as well !!
Now we MUST have a referendum on the EU within 2 weeks. Cameron estimates 51% will say we leave but in reality it will be about 85%. The Lib Dems now say that EVERY person in the world can vote on it because they want Brussels to be our 100% government so Cameron must now close the coalition and have a referendum only for British citizens not migrants or immigrants.
Yes Dave, time to say night ,night EU, and take us out, I don't want any more of my money going to a system, that has not passed an aduit in the last couple of decades. Time to say threats do not bother us, they always turn to us in times of troubles anyway. Let us leave with heads held high, it was a good idea in its first form, but not trying to get us to join a united states of europe, we did not as the British public vote for this DAVE!
Of course the EE members will want us all to contribute more to prop up their economies, the EU went down the pan when they allowed them to join.
Do you know what the difference is between the boy scouts and the EU? Boys scouts have grown ups in charge of them!
Like it John !!
It's about time we quit Europe and stood on our own 2 feet instead of this lot dictating what we can and can't do - Europe interferes too much and there's too many of them over here living on housing benefit and sending all their money home
most foreign born citizens are from Pakistan,India,most babies are born in the UK are babies to immigrant mothers,only one in four are British baby's,never mind Europa
I'd love to see a referendum but even if we get one with a resounding vote to get out of this bloated monstrosity, those bar stewards in the EU will do what they have done before in France and Ireland and make us have ANOTHER vote in 6 months time until we vote the way they want us to.
The USA will not allow us to leave the EU as we are their veto in Europe, our exalted gobsmiths do what Washington DC tells them, Yo Blair.
can any one tell me what you ukip are going too do apart from get out of the EU ?
who cares! it will be worth having them in just to get out of europe.
kneecaps that's like saying i will vote for Adolf hitler . he will create work for the people . what your saying is you don't know what your voting for
Stephen - try the UKIP website and you will see that they have policies that cover everything, not just Europe.
Lets see now, that's Bankers, Politicians, COE's and Euro MP's are still living in a parallel universe!
No bargaining Cameron, just use the veto. We cannot have austerity and pain at home and largesse abroad. While you are at it, scrap the £12bn annual cost of overseas aid and limit it to emergencies only.