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Britain on the brink of budget accord with Brussels

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Hopes were rising in Brussels that an unlikely deal with the UK over the EU's long-term budget was taking shape, although the chief negotiator was trying to resolve a deluge of last-minute complaints from other countries on the eve of what could be a gruelling summit.

The cautious optimism about the UK represents a significant shift, reports the Financial Times.

David Cameron, the prime minister, was seen as the biggest obstacle to a deal on the budget, which will cover roughly €1 trillion in spending from 2014 to 2020.

The changed mood reflects the encouraging reception that British officials have given to the latest proposal from Herman Van Rompuy, the European Council president.

The draft set a ceiling of €940bn for payments over the seven-year period, a €3bn reduction from the current long-term budget.

That would fall short of the real-terms freeze from 2011 levels that Mr Cameron has demanded – which Treasury officials have calculated at €886bn – but still allow the prime minister to tell a sceptical public that he had won a budget cut.

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