Hollande slams countries seeking rebates in EU budget

French President Francois Hollande on Monday slammed countries seeking rebates and discounts in the European Union's next budget, ahead of a key summit this week in Brussels.

Criticising those calling for a decrease in the budget "at the exact moment we are calling for solidarity and mobilisation for growth," Hollande decried countries who "come to get their cheques, their rebates, their discounts".

He did not name any specific countries, but Britain in particular cherishes its budget rebate, won by then prime minister Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s and which London is fiercely defending in the budget talks.

Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Austria have all negotiated rebates because they felt they were contributing too much to the budget.

"The idea that they have of Europe is to obtain exactly what they put in... as if solidarity is not that the most fortunate provide for the others," Hollande told mayors from France's overseas territories meeting in Paris.

Hollande also vowed "to fight to keep the structural funds and the Common Agricultural Policy" during the November 22-23 summit.

The structural funds are designed for wealthier EU nations to provide financial assistance to poorer ones, while the Common Agricultural Policy, the EU's biggest single budget item, is a farm aid programme of which France is the main beneficiary.

The EU's 27 nations are heading into the summit deeply divided over whether to cut the European Commission's proposed 1.03-trillion-euro ($1.3 trillion) 2014-2020 budget.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has been particularly vocal in his opposition and has said Britain is prepared to veto the budget.

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