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Page last updated at 08:43 GMT, Friday, 29 October 2010 09:43 UK

Hague: Responsible EU spending 'top priority'

The Foreign Secretary, William Hague, has said that "getting the EU to get a grip on its own finances is our top priority".

At the European Council meeting in Brussels, Britain was unable to secure a freeze of the EU budget for the year 2011, it will rise by 2.69% instead.

But the Foreign Secretary told Today presenter Evan Davis that he rejected the argument that the freeze had been unrealistic, adding that although it was "almost achievable, there was almost a blocking minority...

"We do not have the power now to veto such a budget, so we have to form alliances."

Mr Hague argued Britain now needed to concentrate on the long-term future of EU finances.

"The most important thing of all," he stressed, is that the Prime Minister managed to secure an "unprecedented agreement" that the EU budget for the period from 2014 to 2020 must "reflect the efforts of member states to bring deficits and debt onto a more sustainable path".

The aim of the coalition government is now to make sure that the "very irresponsible approach to spending within the European Union is brought to an end," he said.

He also said the Prime Minister has "put beyond doubt" that there was a "full British opt-out from any sanctions on European member states arising from any treaty change to reinforce the eurozone".

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