The European budget

 

              You could not make it up. The EU is busy lecturing all its member states to get their budget deficits down. Well they are not always wrong. They are telling states to cut spending and raise more tax revenue. At the same time they want them to pursue a growth strategy, which needs lower tax rates, not higher. So why on earth are they at the same time demanding a higher spending budget for themelves?

               Surely as they demand or impose austerity on struggling Euro members, they should be taking the lead and pruning their own budgets?  It would be good if they showed the way, by proposing an eye catching 10% off through efficiency savings and a smaller overhead. Even better if they proved they do now believe in subsidiarity and local decisions, by offering to cut out whole programmes. Why not end most of  the agricultural programme and leave that to individual member states, who could  achieve more for less? Why not end the EU’s programme of overseas aid, and let states do their own thing in the parts of the world they know best?  And why not repatriate fishing policy whilst they are about. it. That would make them popular for once in the UK.

                         Given the scale of the financial crisis being hurled at the EU it is time for radical reforms and brave departures. It is time for the EU government to give us a lead. They say they mean it when they urge lower deficits and lower spending. Surely then they need to pioneer, trail blaze, blast a way through the EU satrapies themselves. Then we might believe them when they say the way out of this crisis is better housekeeping.

                            They should see the growing restlessness of electorates around the EU. Many more people are coming  to realise there is no more money. There are limits to how much Germany, the UK and France can finance, limits to how much subsidy  can be transferred, limits to how much taxpayers throughout the EU are prepared to pay for their European government. The EU should note that the bond markets strongly believe Greece will be the first but maybe not the only EU state which will renege on its debt because it has borrowed and spent too much. Why doesn’t the EU help it by cutting its own spending, instead of giving it more expensive lectures on austerity and putting up the bill for those same lectures?

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43 Comments

  1. Javelin
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    Doesn’t this just prove human nature is naturally greedy and those in power use that power to fill their own boots – rather than normal hard working people who use their drive to be greedy to work harder. Government without transparency, accountability and responsibility brings out the worst side of human nature.

  2. John C
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    For a long time now I’ve been convinced that we need an in/out referendum on the EU. I was only 14 at the time of the last referendum and that was for the EEC, not the EU.

    I genuinely did not know which way I’d vote but felt that our country needs to have this argument out in the open once and for all.

    I’m now firmly on the side of withdrawal.

    In all future elections I will vote UKIP (if standing) to register my disapproval of our membership of the EU. All three major parties are now fully locked in to the EU project – even in the Conservatives make the most noise about it.

    The thing that finally tipped me over the edge was the item on Newsnight the other night where Daniel Hannan said that the EU bailout was illegal and expressly forbidden by the EU treaties. The MEP from Portugal basically said that the EU is always ahead of the facts and was blasé about the fact that billions were being spent illegally. See Daniel Hannan’s blog on the telegraph for the Newsnight clip.

    I’m more convinced than ever that the Euro will collapse and bring the whole EU down with it.

    • F G
      Posted April 21, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

      +1

  3. lifelogic
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    I agree with this fully. You ask “Why doesn’t the EU help it by cutting its own spending, instead of giving it more expensive lectures on austerity and putting up the bill for those same lectures?” Because it has no effective democratic control and, like most of the state sector in general, it acts mainly in the interests of their senior officials, their employees and their pensions.

    There is nothing certainly no effective control, to stop them doing this. Of course they will pretend, and often even convince themselves they are doing something useful, but in general they are just a fungus living of the rest of us and destroying very many livelihoods and lives in the process.

    • lifelogic
      Posted April 21, 2011 at 8:16 am | Permalink

      The real question is how can we ever get from the current out of control and self serving EU to proper control of the EU to make it act in the people’s interests. Given the current political structures I see little hope or any real mechanism for this happen. Nor any political will from most current politicians to even try.

      Anyone who appoints Lord (Chris) Patten to the BBC trustees is clearly likely to be pushing in completely the wrong direction. Perhaps they just want a nice EU job and pension too.

  4. norman
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    I’ve little enough praise for Cameron, thinking he’s mainly style, and little of that, over substance, but thumbs up for him being tough a few months ago and getting our payments frozen for five years.

    Just shows you, even though we think our politicians are completely impotent when it comes to standing up to the EU they’re not all spineless jellyfish mouthing inanities in the hope of getting a good headline.

  5. PeeJay
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    I agree with the notion according to which if we are to stay in the EU we should at least seek to lower its budget as much as possible but it is rather idyllic to sign up to a European foreign office (or External Action Service) and all the other institutions and then request that the EU have less money to maintain them.

  6. Martyn
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    Well now, according to the EU Commissioner on TV last last it is all our fault. He said that the 4.9% was essential to enable the EU to pay for the projects that individual countries had asked them to fund, adding that the EU could not be seen to be defaulting on those payments because that would be illegal.
    So there you have it – the official word is that it is all our and other nations fault that the EU needs a 4.9% increase in their budget. Why is it I find that difficult to believe?

  7. Duyfken
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    The answer to your question is of course that those controlling the EU are still bent on empire-building. They have steadily garnered many powers which in turn incur large expenditure to administer. More powers require more funding. Your entirely logical and reasonable suggestion that the EU Commission should reverse that direction and divest itself of some its powers is simply heresy. The EU religion must prevail and is more important than the interests of the constituent States.

    That being so obvious it is incomprehensible why Cameron, even Clegg as well, and the leaders of other European States do not exercise the necessary restraint and give the EU Commission a good kicking.

  8. alan jutson
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    John

    Those in Brussels live and work in a different world to anyone else.
    They produce nothing but paper, and its a do as I say, not a do as I do existance.

    Only when politicians of all of the countries who make up the EU make a stand, and say enough is enough, will their be any difference to that which has gone on before. You know it, I know it, most of the people who read your blog know it, but face facts, most politicians seem to lose all common sense when they leave their own countries, and at the moment the general population as a whole, the media, and most MP’s do not seem sufficiently interested in the politics of Europe, to put enough pressure on their leaders to change things.

    The lobby fodder will do as they are told once more.

  9. Peter
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    The EU will never voluntarily cut it’s own budget. It will never voluntarily reform it’s corrupt and inept practices. It will never voluntarily cut down on it’s oppressive and unnecessary regulations.
    The only way of being free of it’s dead hand is to leave it. That would benefit the ordinary person in Britain more than any other policy yet it’s certain that our politicians won’t do it as they are one of the few groups to do well out of the EU.

    • Peter Turner
      Posted April 21, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

      I like and agree with what you say. But I have to ask the question why? Why do our politicians in the three larger parties take not a blind bit of notice of the peoples desire to have a referendum? Afterall, we are to have a referendum about whether we should adopt AV as our new voting system but I do not know of anyone (other than the Lib Dems) who thinks that that is more important than the peoples opinon on this corrupt and undemocratic EU.

      • BobE
        Posted April 21, 2011 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

        Peter, because they want nice EU jobs after the next election. Look how Kinock+Wife took that pay off to vanish. Well Cameron and Clegg will have to do the same after they loose in 4 years time.

  10. Richard Calhoun
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    John, you and your MP colleagues of eurosceptic persuasion , continue to bang the drum, explain what is wrong with the EU, what the government should be doing etc etc but it only gets worse not better.

    It is time for you eurosceptics in the Tory party to realise/accept that you are making no difference. If we go into the next election without a referendum on the EU I doubt we will ever get one.

    It’s time for action, Country before party and all that!

    You eurosceptic MP’s should consider resigning the Tory whip and either join, or have a loose association with UKIP, to force this issue.

    You must now know that nothing else is going to force the issue.

    Reply: As I keep explaining, that could not force the issue – there are not enough of us – if there were more of us to vote for a referendum, we would not need to resign to have a refererendum. With only a minority of MPs prepared to vote for a referendum any resignations would be a meanignless gesture which would marginalise the people doing it even more.

    • Richard Calhoun
      Posted April 21, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

      With all respect this is dodging the issue.

      We are where we are, the eurosceptic s are making no difference to the government over a referendum, and with the new intake in parliament there are many Tory MP’s who are now eurosceptic.

      If a large number of Tory MP’s ( possible 20/ 30 plus some in the Lords) were to announce they would resign the whip if a referendum is not granted this would be a very strong negotiating position, particularly because we are in Coalition territory.

      If those MP’s were forced to resign and formed a group within Parliament or took up with UKIP then I would say this would be a very powerful action to challenge the government.

      Rather than being a meaningless gesture this would threaten the opportunity of the Tories to win a majority at the next election and force them to the negotiating table over this vital issue.

      I understand the risks the MP’s would be taking but surely there comes a time when risk must be taken and the gauntlet thrown down!

      Reply: How many more times do I have to explain the arithmetic in a Eurofederalist House? The Eurosceptics have far too few votes to push anything through without the governent’s consent, whatever configuration they choose to be in and whatever label they call themselves.

      • Richard Calhoun
        Posted April 22, 2011 at 12:41 am | Permalink

        You don’t have to say it at all, I fully understand the current arithmetic.

        You will understand, by eurosceptic’s resigning the Tory whip, would change the whole dynamic in the run-up to the next election.

        It would bring UKIP and labour eurosceptic’s into play and would create a focus on the problem in the cabinet that we are currently failing to achieve.

        I am sure you appreciate this and are basically saying that Tory eurosceptic’s are unwilling to take this risk by putting Country before Party.

        Reply: No, I think you are wrong. Mr Spink did not change UK politics when he did this.

        • Richard Calhoun
          Posted April 23, 2011 at 8:38 am | Permalink

          Hardly a worthy comparison, we are talking of a number of MP’s here, who would be acting on a matter of principle and the future of this country.

    • Duyfken
      Posted April 21, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

      That is certainly a wise course to take. OTOH, would it not be desirable for like-minded Conservative MPs and MEPs to form a group within the Party in order to advance your views and encourage others to join?

      I recall that Cameron & co started with their own such clique, the Nottinghill Mob, so why not try to emulate such success? 🙂

    • Jer
      Posted April 21, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

      Do you have a theory as to why those elected to represent us, on all sides, seem to have a different view of questions on capital punishment, immigration and the EU then the people that elected them?

      No

      • sjb
        Posted April 21, 2011 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

        I find MPs tend to be well informed, better educated, and more civilised than the ‘man in the street’.

  11. Chris
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    The EU will never cut its own spending. The agenda is to take more and more from the member nations, to bring them so low that they will all be forced to borrow IMF money in never-ending cycles, i.e permanent debt. The goal is power and control; it has nothing whatever to do with “harmonising relationships” or “a better way of life for all”. They think they are right and the rest of us are wrong (or, in effect, don’t matter).

    I am someone who is not that well up on complex money matters, but all I can see is a relentless power and money-sucking machine. People may have laughed a while back at conspiracy theorists who warned that the EU would destroy nations’ wealth and seek total overall government, well here we are on that very road. The friendly trading-block that everyone thought they’d voted for in the 1970’s has now morphed into a monster.

  12. acorn
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    The new improved EU budget site is much better at explaining where the money comes from and where it goes. The following link takes you to the 2011 budget. Notice the “UK Correction” in the financing table. http://ec.europa.eu/budget/figures/2011/2011_en.cfm

    You can get to the latest 2012 budget on the rhs menu.

  13. Victor_Meldrew
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    Nobody could ever accuse the Commission of having their finger(s) on the pulse of public opinion could they?
    As was witnessed last time when they received 2.9% asking for 6, they simply won’t accept that perhaps the people paying the piper sometimes have the right to demand a certain tune!
    The Parliament is as bad as the Commission so there is no chance of any sense coming out of that organisation either. There is a total disconnect between these European apparatchiks and the people they are supposed to represent.
    Cameron has to do a Maggie when it comes round to the 7 year budget, what he can do legally this time round is moan and nothing more!
    Unless, that is, he grows some balls…..highly unlikely given his performance to date.

    • sjb
      Posted April 21, 2011 at 9:40 am | Permalink

      In October 2010, the EU’s directly elected parliament voted for a budget increase of 6% to take into account the EU’s extra duties introduced in the Lisbon Treaty.

      • Victor_Meldrew
        Posted April 21, 2011 at 10:47 am | Permalink

        Maybe they could save some money by canceling the ridiculous museum!

        As I said, they live in another world, highly paid, exceptional pensions, even better expenses, and all paid for by the taxpayers.

        Pronouncements from the Parliament are irrelevant given that they will never reduce their demands for yet more cash for whatever pet project of some Romanian or Polish or Italian MEPs. They are no different from the Commission in demanding ever increasing amounts of our money.

        Sadly, we all suffer from professional politicians whose role in life seems to be to screw the rest of us!

  14. oldtimer
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    The Eurocrats live in an ivory tower. They will continue to ignore the outside world unless and until those outside storm and tear down the tower. That will not happen unless and until the current raft of national political leaders themselves are ejected from office and replaced with politicians of a different mind set.

  15. Chris Rose
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    And the way they could do most to ease the fiscal burden on EU governments would be to restructure the euro.

  16. A.Sedgwick
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    Many of us see blazing writing on the wall 100 feet or metres high – the EU is a bureaucratic, undemocratic, spendthrift, inefficient, morally and probably financially corrupt monster that we should leave. Until main party MPs start admitting this openly and canvass for it we will continue to be ripped off.

  17. Richard
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    If you look at the fall of the USSR, nothing really changed until they finally ran out of money and a total collapse ocurred, and it ended when over 70% of their citizens were dependent on the state for their living.
    Currently I do not see any prospect of one member state rebelling against the EU and saying “we will not obey this piece of legislation” or “we will not pay your latest demand for more money”
    If a Russian province had dared to do this, the Russian Army would have been sent in to restore obedience, but just what would the EU do faced with rebellious member states?

    Perhaps the EU master plan is to deliberately impoverish member states and make them more dependent and therefore less rebellious.

  18. Robert K
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    Unarguable. Let’s have a referendum and hopefully we can exit the EU.

  19. Posted April 21, 2011 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    The EU’s doing a good job.
    With AV on the way and demands for more money from the EU along with recent decisions by the European Court, IKIP is now has a fighting chance!

  20. Andrew Johnson
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    Funniest piece of political satire I’ve read for ages, made me laugh out loud.

  21. Geoff not Hoon
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    Mr. Redwood, As we move towards a rather long holiday spell is it possible you could include a section one day setting out why the party continues to resist moves for a referendum on withdrawel from the EEC? When I ask I mean your view of the ‘real’ reasons that we, the public, appear not to be told at this time.

    Reply: I have no idea why.

  22. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    The EU will do none of the things that you suggest; it is a power crazed, anti-democratic organisation. As there is no mainstream political party prepared to stand up against this form of dictatorship, the regrettable outcome at some stage will probably be an uprising. How very depressing.

  23. Rick Hamilton
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    It takes a leader of Thatcher’s calibre to say “we are just not paying any more, full stop”.
    What can they do? Fine us, and we don’t pay the fine.
    It’s illegal? So what, the EU just rode a coach and horses through its own useless Lisbon Treaty – which specifically prohibits bailouts – in order to save the banks against the debtor countries.
    What can they do if we don’t pay up, invade us? In this case ‘they’ are just parasitic bureaucrats elected by nobody who need a good kick up the backside to teach them a lesson. Somebody has to make a stand. Historically it’s always been the British who say enough is enough when faced with continental madness on this scale.

  24. forthurst
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    Cameron has determined to pack his party with those more like us i.e. (politically correct profiles-ed) etc. It is typical of a PR man instinctively to elect for style over substance: the essential problem is that the Conservative party has been packed with people who do not think like us. How did this happen? Why have the constituencies been selecting candidates on their Europhilia and other rebarbative entites? We need to have an expose of how the issue of Europe and others are used as selction criteria. Should not a much larger group be involved in selecting an individual Conservative MP such that cliques operating on Buggin’s turn and a political view out of kilter with the popular consensus be blocked? The existence of UKIP is a testament to the failure of our current system.

    We do not belong in the EU any more than Japan belongs in China; our border are set by the sea, not by the outcomes of squabbles in prior centuries. We are not part of any discernable geopolitical continuum. We are set at the periphery; we can never be at its heart.

    Reply: Conservative Associations still choose candidates, unless a primary election is used to include more voters.In my experience Conservative Associations want MPs who say No to more powers and money to Brussels – or want something more Eurosceptic. The latest generation of Conservative MPs is largely Eurosceptic in attitude, and includes some who will vote against the party whips for a more Eurosceptic policy.

    • forthurst
      Posted April 21, 2011 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

      I stand corrected on the general point: perhaps my view was more influenced by the MP selected recently in the constituency that I lived. He was a Europhile and clearly had no basis for selection, it being a non-marginal proximate to Westminster, other than Buggin’s turn. Europe is a crucial issue. If constituecies are Eurosceptic, how can they tolerate a Europhile MP? Being Conservative should be more than a badge of convenience.

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted April 21, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

      John you write: “The latest generation of Conservative MPs is largely Eurosceptic in attitude, and includes some who will vote against the party whips for a more Eurosceptic policy.”
      Cameron seems more ready to side with the LibDems than the Eurosceptics in his own party. Nothing will happen as you all decide that preservation of the coalition is more important to you than the subjugation of this country to the EU.

  25. David John Wilson
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    It is time that someone formally asked the UK parliament to approve a 10% reduction in our contribution to the EU budget. The current mood across Europe would probably result in other countries following suit. It seems that Germany and France would be likely to follow suit and between us that is a major hole in the EU budget as there are few other countries who are net contributers.

  26. Peter van Leeuwen
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    It would only be fair to realise that much of the budget (part of a 7 year planning cycle) are payments and commitments which cannot be avoided. Who would want the EU to default on its payments towards the electric interconnection of the UK with Ireland?
    A closer look at the figures and the ppt presentation can see where austerity has played its part ( http://ec.europa.eu/budget/figures/2012/2012_en.cfm ). Changing priorities (like less CAP) is best achieved in the new framework budget as from 2013.

  27. Andy
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    Totally with you on this John, when I heard it on the radio last night I even thought of writing to you to ask you to push for a 10% cut.

  28. Charlie the Chump
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    The EU will never, never, cut back. It is incapable of understanding this let alone implementing it.

    The only choice open to us now is in or out. I say OUT.

  29. Vanessa
    Posted April 22, 2011 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    We are told that no government can bind the next government (keeping us in the EU) – so why is this coalition so spineless that it cannot tell our idiot government in Brussels what to do with their increase? Nobody would pay a company where their accounts had not been audited for 16 years, why are we still giving money to these greedy criminals to help themselves to and line their pockets and their family’s pockets and all their friends’ pockets. It is our money and we should say NO MORE. How difficult is it? IF they say we fine you, we say TOUGH. Would they invade us or throw us out of the EU ???? WHOOOOOPEEEEEEEE

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

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