PM demands EU bureaucracy cuts
David Cameron has demanded a series of swingeing cuts to EU bureaucracy, as negotiations over Brussels' budget get underway.
As leaders arrived in the Belgian capital for the start of two-day talks, the Prime Minister handed European Council president Herman van Rompuy a list setting out €6bn in cuts to the pay and pensions of European officials over seven years.
Mr Cameron's bilateral with the EU President was one of 27 such meetings Mr Van Rompuy was holding today, in a marathon session ahead of the formal dinner of all leaders.
Downing Street said Mr Cameron made the UK's position on the budget clear in the initial talks, but admitted there was "a long way to go" before a deal can be reached.
"The Prime Minister set out our position that while the latest proposals were a step in the right direction they did not go far enough and that we think more can be done to rein in spending," a Number 10 spokesman said.
"He also set out the UK's position on the rebate that it was fully justified and we did not support any changes."
Speaking this morning before the summit got underway, the Prime Minister pledged to fight for the best deal for Britain's taxpayers.
"We are going to be negotiating very hard for a good deal for Britain’s taxpayers and Europe’s taxpayers and to keep the British rebate," he said.
Nick Clegg earlier said the Government's position was "tough but realistic", backing the Mr Cameron's stance in seeking a minimum real terms cash freeze in the EU budget, as negotiations on the bloc's spending commitments were set to begin.
But UKIP leader Nigel Farage this evening warned Mr Cameron he faces a "lose-lose situation", and said the debate in the UK had "moved on".
"There are no winners for David Cameron in this, and I think the result of these negotiations will be that the calls in the UK for us to have a referendum on leaving this union will get louder and stronger," he told BBC News.
"What the country is saying by a vast majority is we don’t want to pay anything into the EU budget."