U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron said he won’t do a deal on the European Union’s budget if it’s not good for Britain.
Discussions about the budget are on the agenda for the next EU summit on Nov. 22. U.K. Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander attacked European Commission President Jose Barroso yesterday for seeking a budget increase of more than 100 billion euros ($130 billion) over the next seven years, saying he should follow national governments across the EU and find ways to reduce spending.
“There’s a deal that can be done, but it can’t be a deal that involves spending a lot more money,” Cameron told reporters in Brussels today after talks with EU leaders. “There’s no point doing a deal that’s a bad deal. If there’s not a deal that’s good for Britain, there won’t be a deal.”
Cameron again signaled he plans to put the U.K.’s relationship with the EU to a referendum once changes have been negotiated. Unlike many of his Conservative Party lawmakers, he favors staying in.
“I’ve always been clear that leaving the EU is not in our national interest,” the prime minister said. “We are a trading nation. We need Europe’s markets to be open. We don’t just want to be able to trade with Europe. We want to have a say over the rules of how that trade works and that’s exactly what EU membership gives us.”
The U.K. gets a refund from its contribution to the EU budget and has long opposed increasing it, given that 40 percent goes to agriculture. The commission, the bloc’s executive arm, said total spending over the seven years starting in 2014 should be a maximum 1 trillion euros.
France is the biggest beneficiary of European farm aid, which the commission wants to shift to growth-boosting areas in the wake of the worst recession since World War II. The U.K.’s budget rebate, which then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher negotiated in 1984 when Britain was one of the poorer countries in the bloc, was worth 3.5 billion euros in 2010.