EU budget proposals are crazy!

Today is the first day of the latest EU summit in Brussels and I was staggered to read that the European Parliament had last week voted for a 6% increase in the EU budget for next year, as recommended by the entirely unelected European Commission.

What planet are these people living on?! Whilst countries right across Europe are having to make incredibly tough decisions about how to reign in public spending in order to redress growing budget deficits, the EU seems to be completely oblivious.

If approved the EU’s total budget for 2011 would be a whopping Euro 130 billion with the British contribution rising to over £10 billion over the next 4 years. To put this in context, this is more than the Government currently spends funding the Police nationally.

To rub salt into the wounds, five new unelected European quangos are being set up at a cost of £33 million this year, just at the same time as the UK Government is abolishing 192 as part of their efforts to save money and increase accountability.

Conservative MEPs in the debate proposed an amendment calling on the EU to freeze its budget at 2010 levels but sadly this was voted down (including by 10 of the 13 Labour MEPs).

And who was prominent in their support of this 6% increase to the EU budget? Yes, you’ve guessed it, the Green Party and their new MEP, ex-Brighton councillor Keith Taylor!

Of course, the Greens have form here. At the Brighton & Hove City Council meeting (Conservative notice of motion on public sector debt) last week they argued that cutbacks in public spending are entirely unnecessary because the UK debt problem isn’t that serious! They obviously know something that the IMF, the World Bank, the OECD and the Governor of the Bank of England don’t!

I do hope that David Cameron is able to get the EU to back down over their inflated budget demands. At a time like this when the UK is having to make multi-billion pound budget savings in order to pay down the massive debt which has built up over the last 10 years, it is unacceptable that our contribution to the EU should go up by one single penny.

4 Responses to “EU budget proposals are crazy!”

  1. 1 Gareth October 29, 2010 at 11:36 am

    I certainly agree that it is deeply unfair to expect the public to accept an increase in the EU budget, for very little perceived benefit, at a time of such economic austerity.

    On the other hand, surely it is by “investing” in the EU that the UK gains greater sway in how the Union is directed? Perhaps now isn’t the time though!

    It would be interesting to know which countries’ MEPs voted for this and what the intended benefits of the proposed budget are.

  2. 2 Allie Cannell October 30, 2010 at 9:25 am

    All the anti-Eu stuff is so ridiculous. On basic economics terms the UK makes sense. Never mind the fact that since it was set up western Europe hasn’t had any major wars, which before the EU it was having every 20 years or so!

    The UK spends much less than 1% of GDP a year on the EU, because of our rebate, and academics at our very own University of Sussex calculate that we get slightly more than 1% of GDP back from just the trade benefits. This doesn’t sound very much but, if we didn’t have this growth we would have been in recesion for much longer.

    Secondly the idea that the debt we have now is so bad is ridiculous when you look at the facts here:

    Government debt now is around 70% of GDP, at the end of the second world war it was around 250% of GDP!!! And at that time we managed to create the NHS and build huge amounts of social housing.

    I think these cuts must be ideological, by people simply wanting to destroy the welfare state.

    • 3 marymears November 1, 2010 at 11:42 am

      Allie – the economic benefits you speak of are all about being in a Common Market’ – what the EU was originally intended to be when we entered in 1973. They have nothing to do with the political integration that has taken place under sucessive Governments since.
      And on your point about the debt – the issue is our huge structural deficit (i.e. the difference between what we spend and what we get in through taxes), which is the worst in the G20. The longer we leave this, the worse the debt we owe (and the interest we pay on it) becomes.

  3. 4 Gareth November 1, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    @Allie: I do get tired of people comparing debt now to debt after WW2. Isn’t there a clue in there? Our debt was huge because we had an economy and infrastructure devastated by war, nearly 48 million dead… How is that comparable?

    So yes, we borrowed further to repair our country- debts that were only finally paid off in 2006. ($462096.htm)

    As much as I don’t see how you can have one without the other at the moment, Mary’s point about the difference between the EU and the common market is valid. If perhaps the EU was still mostly a common market then would it need such a large budget? The question is whether we are getting “value for money,” when every UK public department is being asked to look for it.

    As I said, it’s a somewhat facile argument without knowing the targets of the budget- it *could* be a worthwhile investment (read: I’m not convinced given past EU record on efficiency).

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