European budget talks collapse

BRUSSELS — A summit meeting of European leaders collapsed Friday amid bitter discord over a new budget for the European Union, delivering a further blow to a 27-nation grouping already struggling to contain a debt crisis, social discontent fueled by rising unemployment, and doubts about the long-term viability of the euro currency.

Leaders abandoned efforts to set the shape of a trillion-euro long-term budget and called for a new round of talks early next year to try to reach a deal.

Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain, who along with the leaders of the Netherlands, Sweden and several other countries had pushed hard for deep cuts, criticized proposals that left spending on the union’s administrative machinery intact.

This, he said at a news conference, showed that “Brussels continues to exist as if in a parallel universe,” referring to the headquarters for the union’s institutions, which employs about 33,000 people in the European Commission, the union’s main administrative arm. Cameron complained that “more than 200 commission staff earn more than I do.”