Thursday, 21 October 2010

Why isn't the EU budget being cut?

by Marc Glendening

On Wednesday October 13th, 35 MPs defied the coalition government and demanded that Britain's contribution to the EU be cut in real terms at a time when major spending reductions are being planned across the range of public services in Britain.

Ministers said that it would be 'illegal' for our parliament to vote for a cut in the contribution and are instead pressing for a freeze in the amount of money we hand over to a fraud-ridden budget that has not had its books given a clean bill of health by auditors in 15 years.

The European Commission wants its budget to grow by 5.8% next year,
2011-12. Britain is already paying £8.3 billion net, compared to last year's
£6.4 billion above and beyond what we get back currently. In total the gross contribution we have to hand over amounts to £48 million a day.

This year, the Commission has reluctantly settled for a 2.9% rise. The plan is to increase the wages of EU officials by 5.3% and expand the commission's administration costs by an extra 15%.

As Mats Persson of the pressure group Open Europe comments: "People and governments across Europe are fed up with the EU being the only public body protected from spending cuts".

The Council of Ministers wants the Commission to cut its increase for next year back to 2.6%. However, the European Parliament wants to go even further than the Commission and voted on October 20 for a £6.5 billion increase.

For Britain this will mean, if implemented, finding an extra £884 million next year, this being the equivalent of 14,000 doctors, 29,000 nurses, 34,000 police officers or 52,000 soldiers.

The elaborate Brussels 'conciliation procedure' will now kick in to try and arrive at some sort of compromise between the various bodies wanting more money from UK and other European taxpayers.

On top of this, unelected EU tax commissioner Janusz Lewandowski wants to remove Britain's rebate from the EU budget. This is currently worth
£3 billion. It was negotiated by the UK government in the 1980s because British farmers received a much smaller proportion of CAP money compared to their German and French counterparts. Now the Commission wants to reduce our rebate by £2.5 billion next year before phasing it out totally.

Another area of financial attack emanating from Brussels is the way in which we are being forced to contribute to the crisis in the eurozone. The UK was obliged to guarantee £8.6 billion towards the recent bail-out of Greece, about 10% of the total loan package. If the Greeks cannot pay this back, then UK taxpayers will lose their money.

We had to contribute this amount because the Commission utilised article 122 of the Lisbon treaty that allows the Council of Ministers, by qualified majority vote, to impose collective assistance to a member state hit by 'natural disasters or exceptional occurrences beyond its control...'.

This article is therefore, through a highly elastic and convenient interpretation by the EU elite, being used to justify forcing countries outside the eurozone to help prop up those within it that run into trouble. As Commission president, Jose Manuel Barroso, said: "We will defend the euro, whatever it takes".

To cap it all, recently Britain was fined £150 million by the Commission for not flying the EU flag in the vicinity of a number of projects Brussels claims to have 'financed'!

written by Marc Glendening

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