It has been five months since Jean-Claude Juncker assumed the office of the President of the European Commission, so it is worth taking stock of what he has done so far. His agenda for 2015, entitled the Work Programme, was debated in the House of Commons on 9 March.
If you ask the Europhile Tory MP and Minister for Europe David Lidington what he thinks about the Work Programme, he has plenty to praise Juncker about:
“This work programme is focused on fewer measures, and on measures that will encourage growth and jobs, deepen the single market, conclude trade agreements and improve regulation, freeing up business from unnecessary regulatory burdens. The Government welcome that new focus,” he has said.
The programme appears rather minimalist at first glance, but below the surface there are policies which will limit Britain’s sovereignty even further. Juncker wants to achieve the agreement of all EU Member States to impose a common corporate tax at EU level.
This amounts to the most serious power-grab by Brussels we have seen so far.
It includes a package of measures, published this month, which will force EU national treasuries to disclose and exchange information about sweetheart tax-deals It’s a prelude to further encroachment on Britain’s tax policy.
Tax avoidance by multinational corporations inflames the passion of many people, including Britons, who suffered in the recession. Therefore, attempts to crack down on tax avoidance are one area for which the EU can enjoy support and good PR.
Ironically, what many casual Europhiles don’t know is that tax avoidance has always been facilitated by the EU on an industrial scale, and Juncker is at the centre of it all.
The Single Market allows a multinational corporation to establish a head office in one EU country with a low tax regime, and funnel all their profits from elsewhere in Europe over to that country.
Therefore, profits made in Britain, by say Amazon, can be transferred to the tax-haven where the head office is based, say Luxembourg, and pay a much lower rate of corporation tax than British businesses. Amazon will operate in Britain as a franchise of their head office in Luxembourg, so all the profits made here can be redefined as ‘franchise fees’, and escape paying tax to HM Treasury.
This would be an uncomfortable truth for young, left-wing activists who heap adoration at the EU, while calling for boycotts against Amazon and Starbucks due to their tax-avoidance.
The measures in the Work Programme target tax-haven nations like Luxembourg, Ireland and the Netherlands. But here’s another uncomfortable truth for left-wing activists and europhiles: guess who was the Prime Minister of Luxembourg for over fifteen years?
None other than Mr Juncker himself, in a period which saw many of the sweetheart deals agreed between Luxembourg tax authorities and major corporations. The leaked documents about these tax deals caused great embarrassment for Juncker — the ‘Luxleaks’ scandal still hangs over his head.
The Work Programme also renewed a long-standing commitment to establish the Energy Union, an effort to wean Member States away from foreign sources of energy such as Russian gas supplies. While it is pragmatic to reduce dependence on energy supplies from unfriendly nations, the Energy Union cannot avoid diminishing the independence of Member States.
It will not only involve the EU taking over our energy policy and deciding who we import energy supplies from, but as Mr Lidington observed: “It is an important step towards not only strengthening Europe’s energy security, but decarbonising our economies.”
Decarbonisation means higher energy bills on working people, and more renewable sources of energy like wind turbines and solar farms blighting the countryside.
Mr Lidington, who is a convinced believer in the superiority of rule by Brussels, won’t lose any sleep over this. Naturally, wide-eyed EU fanatics residing in the ‘Westminster bubble’ are insulated from the concerns of the Great British Public.
One would think the Eurozone crisis would make ‘an ever closer union’ unthinkable. The Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders even said “the age of federalist visions is over”.
However the patterns soon become clear for all to see. The EU sees every crisis as an opportunity to advance their main aim — a United States of Europe. It’s the same solution the EU proposes to every problem every time.
Brussels uses any excuse to gradually chip away at Britain’s sovereignty and independence. This is why we must Get Britain Out of the EU, sooner rather than later.
This article is crossposted in The Commentator.