The Prime Minister has told business leaders that the European Union must stop ‘picking the pockets’ of its citizens, ahead of tense negotiations over the bloc’s budget.
David Cameron’s comments at the CBI conference come as he prepares for a European summit in Brussels on Thursday and Friday.
There leaders will try and find a compromise over the EU Commission’s request for a 5% increase in its seven-year budget. That would take the total to over EUR1tn.
The UK government is calling for a freeze in EU spending in real terms and has threatened to use its veto to halt proceedings.
Cameron told the conference wanting a tough budget settlement in Europe didn’t make him a ‘bad European’.
‘I think I have got the people of Europe on my side in arguing that we should stop picking their pockets and spending more and more money through the EU budget, particularly when so many parts of the European budget are not well spent,’ he said.
His speech was followed by Labour leader Ed Milliband who warned the UK could fall out of the EU by accident.
‘Many of our traditional allies in Europe clearly think Britain is heading to the exit door,’ he said.
‘I will not allow our country to sleepwalk towards exit because it would be a betrayal of our national interest.
‘One of the interesting things about the proposals so far in this debate about the EU budget is how little attention there has been on the central costs of the EU, the commission budget, what people get paid,’ Milliband said.
Tags: bloc | cameron | cbi conference | european summit | european union | labour leader | picking pockets | tense negotiations | uk government | veto