British Prime Minister David Cameron speaks during a press conference at the end of a European Union Summit at the EU headquarters in Brussels on October 24, 2014. AFP PHOTO / EMMANUEL DUNAND
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British Prime Minister David Cameron challenged a demand from the European Union for an additional 2.1-billion-euro payment into this year's EU budget after a revision of economic statistics showed his country was better off.Cameron's Eurosceptic opponents, gaining ground fast on his Conservative party ahead of a May election, seized on what EU officials called an unusually extensive version of the regular annual adjustment. They accused the prime minister of misleading voters and the EU of acting like a "thirsty vampire". Fellow EU leaders urged Britain to respect long-standing EU rules and not blow an accounting exercise out of proportion.Cameron raised the issue on the second day of an EU summit, and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso responded that the rules were the rules and should not be called into question, an EU official said.After that rebate, worth 5.9 billion euros this year, Britain was due to pay 14.7 billion euros into the EU's 140 billion euro annual budget.Anti-EU right-wingers in Cameron's own party also sought to exploit the issue ahead of a referendum on EU membership that he has promised for 2017 if the Conservatives win next year's national election.
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