This blog was first posted on The Commentator.
The news last week was dominated by the unfortunate downing of the Russian warplane and, of course, the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement and the Comprehensive Spending Review. Britons could be forgiven for missing any developments in Brussels.
The EU’s own 2016 budget was provisionally agreed by Member States in the European Council on 14th November. On Wednesday, MEPs endorsed this budget. It is unremarkable even by EU standards. €155 billion goes to commitment appropriations (contractual obligations which could last post-2016) and €143.9 billion in payment appropriations (the foreseen 2016 expenditure).
So, this is an increase of €2.6 billion (1.8 percent). This will come as an embarrassment to the Prime Minister, who has previously vowed he would be able to secure a reduction in the EU budget at the European Council!
Since David Cameron came to power in 2010, promising austerity and financial restraints by the UK government, the EU annual budget has increased steadily. This latest announcement is an increase during that time of over €20 billion — a whopping 17 percent increase.
It seems EU leaders are more than happy to impose fierce budget constraints and rules on Eurozone nations, alongside those who step out of line like Greece, but it is far less bothered about ensuring financial prudence when sorting out its own accounting.
One of the major headlines from the Chancellor’s Statement was his ‘U-turn’ on Tax Credits. Whilst many on the right will criticise this apparent about-face, it is worth pointing out that at least the UK government seems capable of changing direction if they recognise they are heading the wrong way. By comparison, the EU can only drive bindfold towards a single destination: the Federal United States of Europe.
Leaving aside the debates concerning the pros and cons of cutting Tax Credits. it is necessary to stress these £4.4 billion proposed cuts count for less than a third of the UK’s 2015-16 contribution to the EU budget (OBR). British citizens should rightly question why the Chancellor is willing to impose financial restrictions and restraints on the UK, yet is apparently content with the EU increasing its budget year on year on year.
As the second largest financial contributor to the EU, Britain must be able to demand greater financial prudence. However, it seems ‘Call me Dave’ has given up on his promises to deliver this. Remember, it was Dave who reminded us he has a “track record of doing what I say I’m going to do” when it comes to the EU.
Whilst this will probably be true of his pitifully unambitious renegotiation demands, it does not apply to his promises to deliver greater value for Britain from Brussels.
The British government is now in the ridiculous position of making additional major financial contributions towards migrants who have entered Europe illegally, in direct contradiction to the government’s own clearly stated decision that the best solution for us is to contribute significant amounts of international aid to those in the camps around Syria.
However, Brussels never listens to what Cameron ever says, so why should it have been different with the migrant crisis?
All of this fundamentally undermines the claims our membership of the EU is a fair deal. The lack of accountability and financial oversight in Brussels results in Eurocrats happily increasing the budget. British taxpayers must feel aggrieved that whilst our local services are constantly being cut by the UK government, more and more of their hard-earned wages are going to the EU.
The EU then spends less than half of our money on the UK itself.
The EU is a bureaucratic monster with an insatiable appetite. The only way to stop this is to ensure British money is spent on British interests and we must vote to Get Britain Out in the upcoming referendum.