Cameron on the offensive with EU savings list

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DAVID CAMERON set the tone for a challenging EU summit as he demanded billions of pounds in pay and pension cut from its pampered civil service in a showdown before crucial budget talks got underway last night.

A bullish Prime Minister confronted President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy and President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso with a paper setting out how Brussels could slash at least 6bn euros (£4.8bn) off its staff costs at a stroke by upping retirement ages, lowering pensions and trimming lavish salaries.

The Cameron list caught them by surprise when the Prime Minister was the first through the door yesterday for private talks before the summit began and the move turned the atmosphere frosty, according to some officials.

The start of the meeting was delayed until mid-evening as the rest of the EU’s leaders held their own “confessionals”, setting out their positions on how much cash the EU should be given to pay for policies between 2014 and 2020.

Mr Cameron wants a real-terms freeze in spending in common with national public sector cuts, including a solidarity gesture by targeting the 60bn euros-a-year (£48bn) administrative budget which pays the 40,000-plus civil service behind the Commission, Council and European Parliament.

Mr Cameron warned at the last EU summit that he was on the warpath, pointing out that 16 per cent of European Commission staff were now earning over 100,000 euros (£80,000) a year.