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Thursday 26 April 2012

EU Whopping Budget Whoppers

EU cannot be serious!shrieks the Super Soaraway Currant Bun today as it tells readers that “Brussels sparked outrage yesterday by demanding a 6.8 per cent rise in the EU budget”. The editorial, such as it is for Rupe’s downmarket troops, thunders “the corrupt Brussels empire demands we put another £925 million in its trough ... how about we put nothing in”.

There were the usual signs of the intellectual rigour that one expects from the Sun, as terms such as “blasted”, “slash”, “rocket” and “soar” were deployed. This spirit of creativity was shared at the Express, as Dirty Des’ finest warned thatRefusing to pay the bills would mean the EU, and its member states, would be taken to the European Court of Justice and forced to pay up”.

Thus the Desmond press was caught making it up again. But even at the supposedly upmarket Maily Telegraph, in a piece with no name on the by-line, there is the sneering comment “Our new man in Brussels understands economics, which will put him ahead of the other Eurocrats”. New man? What happened to Bruno Waterfield? And the budget numbers have been exaggerated.

Idiot Mail hack gets his numbers seriously wrong

Although, it has to be said, not by anything like the extent to which the Daily Mail’s James Slack – who is allowed to write leaders for the paper – has done. He calls the draft EU budget (that’s all of it) of €138 billion “an increase”, and goes on to tell that the UK’s contribution would rise by £15 billion. Yes, a Mail leader writer can’t distinguish between total contributions and increases in them.

But what is actually behind this budget increase, and what about all those “Eurocrats” in Brussels? This exchange yesterday between EC President Barroso and an enquiring British hack is revealing:

Q: How do you explain to taxpayers in a country like Britain that, because of this budget increase, the British treasury will have to find over a billion euros extra next year to give to you what it is cutting back on public services in Britain?

A: First of all, I cannot agree with the assumption in your question. You say "given to us", "given to me". It is not to me. It is to Europe, to the regions of Europe, to the workers of Europe, to the United Kingdom.

The example that President Schulz brought today about ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) is quite impressive. Do you know who is asking the increase of expenditure in ITER? Namely the net contributors, namely the United Kingdom. The question I put to you, if I may, is does the public in the UK know that the British government is arguing for the increase in expenditure like ITER? Do you believe this project is the first priority for the poorest regions of Europe? So, the point is very important to make, because there is sometimes a complete contradiction between the positions that the governments take publicly, some governments saying "we want to reduce the budget", and afterwards they are the first to ask for increase of the budget in the projects that are of course for their direct interest.

That pretty much sums up the problem that many in the UK, and especially the cheaper end of the Fourth Estate, have with the EU. Any budget contribution is characterised as being for “Eurocrats”, while overwhelmingly the money goes on projects previously agreed by all member states (including the UK). Then when the bills come in, the why-oh-why merchants kick off.

And, on the subject of those “Eurocrats”, this information provided by the EC representation in the UK is, to no surprise at all, not in any of the papers running their screaming denunciation of the EU: “The draft budget for 2013 also freezes the Commission's administrative budget at well below inflation level, while cutting its staff by 1%, the first step towards the goal of a 5% reduction of staff in 5 years”.

What you will not see in most papers in the UK today. No change there, then.

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