France President Hollande sees tough EU summit ahead

Francois Hollande

French President Francois Hollande on Tuesday warned British Prime Minister David Cameron not to hijack this week's European Union summit with excessive demands on cuts in the European Union budget while refusing to make concessions themselves.

In his address to the European Parliament, Hollande said the 2014-2020 EU budget of some (euro) 1 trillion ($1.35 trillion) was open to some savings but insisted the leaders at Thursday's summit should not compromise innovation and shared sectors like farming.

A November summit ended in failure when Britain led opposition against proposals for a new seven-year EU budget, which represents less that 2 percent of the 27-nation gross domestic product. The breakup was seen in Britain as a show of Cameron resolve in the face of thrifty EU nations.

I have been told a solution cannot happen with Britain. But why should one country decide for 26 others? Indeed we could have agreed at the last European summit,'' Hollande said. `'In order to let people say that this failure was a victory, we let it happen.''

The British government retorted though, it would take exactly the same approach if necessary.

"We are working with a number of our allies, who all believe that spending needs to come down further. If it doesn't budge, then a deal isn't going to be do-able,'' said government spokesman Jean-Christophe Gray.

Sweden, the Netherlands and Denmark have been sharing some of the British complaints over the past months.

In several remarks that could be seen as targeting Cameron, who is the biggest proponent of drastic savings in the EU budget while insisting on keeping existing concessions, Hollande said `'there are those who want to see cuts, others _ possibly the same, who want guarantees on their own rebate.''

Hollande also chided Cameron for a recent speech where he pledged to renegotiate its relations with the EU and questioned the fundamental philosophy of the EU. Cameron also said that if his party wins the next parliamentary election, he would offer citizens a vote on whether to leave the EU.

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