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EU leaders prepare for bitter fight over budget

BRUSSELS — The leaders of Britain and France staked out starkly different visions of the European Union’s future Thursday as they walked into a budget summit, setting the stage for a long, divisive and possibly inconclusive meeting.

While British Prime Minister David Cameron is seeking to keep payments into EU coffers down as low as possible, French President Francois Hollande called for sustained subsidies for farming and development programs for poorer nations.

With each of the 27 nations having the power of veto over the 2014-2020 budget, the summit negotiations could stretch over the weekend, perhaps without result.

Mr. Cameron voiced the concerns of several other countries that do not want to see an increase in the bloc’s spending plan at a time when many member states are cutting budgets at home.

“No, I’m not happy at all,” Mr. Cameron said about EU President Herman Van Rompuy’s latest offer to cap spending for 2014-2020 at $1.28 trillion.

From wire dispatches and staff reports