* German and British leaders to meet in London for EU budget
* British PM David Cameron: "Never had very high hopes" for
* EU leaders to gather in Brussels for budget talks on Nov.
By Peter Griffiths
LONDON, Nov 7 Britain's David Cameron attacked
"ludicrous" European Union budget plans on Wednesday and played
down hopes its leaders can reach a spending deal later this
month, stepping up the rhetoric before talks in London with
Germany's Angela Merkel.
The British prime minister has threatened to veto the EU's
seven-year budget, fuelling a perception among many in Europe
that London is casting itself adrift from the 27-nation union.
German officials are exasperated by what they see as
London's slide towards Europe's margins, a move underlined by
the British parliament's vote last week calling for a real-terms
cut in the EU's 1 trillion euro ($1.28 trillion) budget.
Cameron, who wants to stay in the EU and backs a real-terms
budget freeze, was humiliated by the defeat and was accused by
opponents of losing control over his Conservative Party's
anti-Europeans, a group that has helped bring down former
The prime minister said the there should be a separate
budget for the EU's crisis-hit, 17-state euro zone currency
union, of which Britain is not a member.
"They are proposing a completely ludicrous 100 billion euro
($128.01 billion)increase in the European budget," Cameron told
reporters. "I'll be arguing for a very tough outcome. I never
had very high hopes for a November agreement because you have
got 27 different people round the table with 27 different
Cameron's threat to block a 2014-2020 budget deal could hold
up an increase in funding for the poorest new east European
member states and further isolate Britain from many disgruntled
He has already ruffled feathers in Europe by talking of
using closer euro zone integration as an opportunity to
repatriate some powers from Brussels.
Gunther Krichbaum, head of the German parliament's EU
committee, warned against the island mentality of states like
Britain "who want less Europe rather than more".
"The European Union is not a multiple choice," he said.
Merkel said last week that veto threats would not help the
EU's budget negotiations. Germany is the biggest net contributor
to the budget while Britain, which receives an annual rebate on
its payments, is the fourth largest net payer after France and
Last December, Cameron vetoed an EU treaty change to enforce
stricter fiscal rules in the euro zone. All other member states
except the Czech Republic signed a separate treaty instead to
get round Britain's move.
France and Denmark have also threatened to block a budget
deal to press their interests, highlighting the obstacle course
facing EU leaders at the budget talks.
Cameron said he would make his argument for greater EU
spending controls "with vigour" when he meets Merkel.
"How can they argue that countries should be cutting
spending and taking tough decisions if they're not prepared to
take tough decisions themselves?" he said.