Relentless pursuit of a fallacious idea is surely a sign of madness. It may begin with a laudable objective, such as a pan-European vision of free trade between nations whose history of animosity threatens to boil over into warfare. Who would not willingly subscribe to membership of such an association?
The irony of the insidious journey from sensible origins to the EU behemoth with which we are now saddled, is that the nations affected are all democracies. How can free-thinking electorates finish up where none of them actually want to be? Nor ever wanted to be?
What Britain gets out of it is a matter for debate, but the annual monetary cost to UK taxpayers is not: well over £8 billion a year.
Spending our money
The primacy of Parliament’s right to determine how UK taxes are raised and spent was established over 100 years ago. In 1909 Lloyd-George’s “people’s budget” was passed by the Commons, only to be vetoed in the Lords. The Parliament Act of 1911 removed the right of the House of Lords to veto money bills completely, on the grounds that it is not an elected Chamber.
An accountability gulf so wide that “European democracy” has become a contradiction in terms
Although members of the European Parliament are “elected” by the voters who turn up, their perceived remoteness from everyday life has resulted in an accountability gulf so wide that “European democracy” has become a contradiction in terms. But there are signs that the default position, of just putting up with spending priorities inflicted by Brussels and Strasbourg, will no longer be tolerated.
The undignified budgetary skirmishes currently being staged have put a spotlight on where taxpayers’ money actually goes. While domestic budgets throughout Europe are being squeezed, EU officials, inhabiting a parallel reality, enjoy immunity without accountability.
Given the chance, who would vote to earmark 40% of the entire budget for a Common Agricultural Policy designed to support farmers, primarily in France? Who would sanction the allocation of half the budget for something called “Smart and inclusive growth”? Unravel the euphemism and you find that these funds support the EU’s poorer regions, including poorer regions of the richest countries. For example, Brussels has poured billions into the Calabria region of Southern Italy, much of which now seems to have found its way into the pockets of the mafia.
And what do the 3,325 eurocrats, whose salaries exceed that of our Prime Minister, actually do? Could European taxpayers survive without them?
The big question
How did the EU become an autonomous hegemony in its own right? Why do national leaders repeatedly submerge their own countries’ independence with cries for “solidarity” behind the European cause, when pursuit of that cause is so ruinous?
When President Hollande urges Chancellor Merkel to subordinate her domestic concerns and “put Europe’s interests first” he is merely deflecting attention away from his own crippling ineptitude. Would a sane leader tackle his country’s deficit by lowering retirement age and raising the top tax rate to 75%?
And Italy’s Monti: “It’s not important to have a limit on the total budget because things are produced more efficiently at the EU level”. Not surprisingly, the main man in Belgium echoes the sentiment: “For me, Europe means more solidarity and prosperity for all Europeans.”
All these puffed up egos are handsomely remunerated – out of other people’s taxes. Only the recognition of that fact will terminate the dream.