Friday, 29 October 2010

Will Cameron yet freeze the EU budget?

David Cameron's strategy to secure a freeze in the EU budget may be becoming clearer.

It was, of course, never in prospect that all the EU's member governments and institutions would agree to a zero percent increase in the EU's spending during 2011.

Nevermind the cut in funding that is truly justified by the drastic austerity measures being implemented in the EU's member countries and the EU's perpetual failure to safeguard from waste and fraud the public money it is given.

Nevertheless, has Mr Cameron gambled that protracted disagreement over the level of increase may deliver exactly what he wants?

Institutional stand-off

By securing the backing of ten other EU member countries for the position that the rise must not exceed 2.9%, David Cameron has set up a stand-off between the European Council on the one hand and the European 'Parliament' and Commission on the other.

The procedure for agreeing the EU's annual budget is set out in Article 314 of the EU treaty, as usefully highlighted over on the Your Freedom and Ours blog. Skip to paragraph 5 to find the current state of play.

During the forthcoming potential 21 days of 'conciliation', the likely response from the 'Parliament' and Commission to what has occured over the last two will be to propose a figure somewhere between the 5.9% increase they currently want and the 2.9% backed by a blocking minority on the Council.

If no agreement is reached during conciliation, paragraph 8 confirms that the procedure goes right back to the start, with the Commission required to submit a new draft budget.

Freezing stalemate

That there may be no agreement during conciliation seems a real possibility. The EU 'Parliament' in particular is easily pompous enough about its position and role to believe its duty is to 'take on' national governments. And need we really say more about Commission president Jose 'dimension of empire' Barroso?

By demanding billions extra from cash-strapped European countries that will no doubt have to be additionally borrowed before being handed over, these two EU institutions have at least usefully demonstrated the emptiness of their rhetoric about seeking to help Europe recover economically.

The bigger question during conciliation is whether Mr Cameron's group of supportive countries on the European Council will stand firm.

Should this roundabout of negotiations not be resolved in time for the new budget to start in 2011, Article 315 of the treaty confirms that "not more than one twelfth of the budget appropriations for the preceding financial year may be spent each month ..."

In other words - in the absence of a specific concession by the Council that more than one twelfth per month may be spent, which would be unlikely given they will be attempting to pressure the 'Parliament' and Commission into swift acquiescence to their 2.9% deal - the 2010 EU budget continues into next year.

Bingo! That freeze.

Futile games

So is David Cameron gaming the 'Parliament' and Commission with their own procedures in order to achieve what he wants? Time, and the reaction of those institutions, will tell. Ultimately, it matters little.

For all the reasons and more that were well argued by Harry Phibbs in the Daily Mail, even a freeze isn't nearly strong enough action against the EU's financial incompetence and abject waste and the best case scenario of all this is still most likely to be a 2.9% increase.

That would leave Britain still having to stump up an extra £430 million for the EU next year, on top of the £8.3bn (net) we're already committed to handing over, while making big cuts to essential public services at home.

Justify that, Prime Minister.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The only game the present actor/placeman,David Cameron is intent on playing is how to decieve the electorate and to forward the agenda of those pulling his strings in the shadows.Like his predessesors.To see it any other way can only be described as denying reality.

David D