Britain was also threatening to tank the talks.
‘‘The European Union should not be immune from the sorts of pressures that we've had to reduce spending, find efficiencies and make sure that we spend money wisely, that we’re all having to do right across Europe,’’ said Prime Minister David Cameron, who said the numbers put forward in November were much too high.
The numbers ‘‘need to come down, and if they don’t come down there won’t be a deal,’’ Cameron said.
In his opening speech, European Parliament President Martin Schulz raised the stakes even further, reminding the leaders that lawmakers have the right to reject the budget.
Schulz noted that a failure to reach a compromise would simply allow the current budget to roll over with an additional 2 percent for inflation — an outcome he said was workable.
Don Melvin contributed to this report.
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