TALKS on the European Union's trillion-euro budget have ended in deadlock after leaders of the 27-nation bloc failed to overcome seemingly irreconcilable differences on spending.
EU president Herman Van Rompuy insisted however that progress had been made in the two days of bitter bargaining. He forecast a deal would be made when leaders meet again next year.
Tensions between rich and poor states over funding for economic development and Britain's strident demands for cuts in the mammoth budget — covering seven years from 2014 to 2020 — had set the summit on a rocky course from the start.
Britain was cast as the chief spoiler, with prime minister David Cameron arriving with a threat to wield his veto unless spending was frozen in real terms. He argued that in times of economic crisis, the EU too must make deep cuts. But, he said, as leaders went home without a deal his country was not alone in seeking to reduce EU spending.
"Frankly the deal on the table was just not good enough. It wasn't good enough for Britain and neither was it good enough for a number of other countries, including Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands, Finland, Denmark. All of these countries are net contributors to the EU, in other words, like Britain they write the cheques," Mr Cameron said.