Business Magazine

That EU Budget (Again)

Posted on the 21 November 2012 by Charlescrawford @charlescrawford

Decision time (or not) for the EU Budget for the period 2014-2020.

I have written extensively on this subject. Here is my classic analysis (in two parts) from 2010 at Conservative Home on the whole process. Read it to get up to speed.

More recently I was opining at Telegraph Blogs on why London is - horror! - not isolated in demanding some sort of good sense for a change.

And here is a good Guardian piece today on the way the money is spent.

Remember the legendary Chinese alarm-clock?

Bottom line?

In EU negotiations there is only one way to have influence. The power to block decisions, or to threaten to block them. If an EU decison is taken by 'qualified majority vote' you need to be part of the blocking minority. In some policy areas (not so many these days) you have an absolute veto. The Budget falls into the latter camp. Any member state can say NO.

Which is fine if you want to control the Budget debate and are prepared to block. But then others may block big things you want, or otherwise find lots of smaller ways to make life miserable, or form majorities to ram through stuff you really don't want.

This is one of the most fiendishly complicated negotiations on earth. Yet at root it is very simple. It is absurd that the EU system is pressing for lots more money when every government in Europe is having to trim budgets and make savings.

The banal assertion that it is not 'spending' but 'investment' is especially annoying. Even if an investment makes sense it itself, you can make only those investments you can afford.

And when so much money is wasted on schemes that need not be supported any longer in this way (eg the CAP) or through malpractice/corruption or on excessive salaries and fancy buildings, it is unconscionable to pretend that 'more investment' is some sort of moral imperative and that opposing more of the same is 'un-European'.



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