The Straits Times
Published on Nov 23, 2012

Britain's Cameron angers Europe in budget battle


BRUSSELS (AFP) - British Prime Minister David Cameron was locked in a new Brussels battle Friday as angry EU diplomats claimed his "virulent" demands for austerity were blocking a deal on a new budget for the bloc.

Nearly a year after he enraged his European counterparts by vetoing a pact to resolve the eurozone crisis, Mr Cameron was winding them up again on Thursday by demanding cuts to the perks enjoyed by so-called "eurocrats".

British officials insisted that other countries including Sweden, the Netherlands and Germany largely backed Mr Cameron's position for a reduction in the planned trillion-dollar budget for the seven years from 2014-2020.

In the hours before the summit there was even talk of a German-British axis of austerity - quickly dubbed "Merkeron" or "Camerkel" after Mr Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel - against France. But as the summit was suspended overnight, pessimistic European officials said Mr Cameron was hamstrung by the domestic pressures he faces from anti-Europe members of his Conservative party.