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Eurosceptic Bloggers

Monday, October 25, 2004

A rigged dialogue with society

Eursoc beat me to it, but it is a story that is well worth repeating. According to the economist, the EU has been lavishly funding NGO’s whose sole purpose is to spread the word.

THE European Commission knows it has an image problem. To try to fix things, it is creating the new post of commissioner in charge of communications. Margot Wallstrom, previously responsible for the environment, promises that one of her first actions in office will be to hold brainstorming sessions with civil society. Talking to non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that purport to represent civil society is a proxy for the commissions talking to ordinary Europeans. But there is something odd about this dialogue. Many of the NGOs that Brussels likes to consult are directly financed by the commission itself.
The convention on the future of Europe, in place of actually inviting the public to comment on the constitution, asked some of these self same NGOs to speak on behalf of the public.
Five NGOs on this working group were invited to deliver this message directly to the convention. But all five, the Young European Federalists, the Federalist Voice, the Active Citizenship Network, the European Network Against Racism and the Polish NGO Office in Brussels are financed, directly or through EU funded members, by the commission itself.
And how big pray tell is this largesse?
Romano Prodi, the commissions outgoing president, boasted in a discussion paper in 2000 that over Euro 1,000m a year is allocated to NGO projects directly by the commission. Most of this money goes to organisations that are not directly political: over Euro 400m was allocated to humanitarian aid for example. But Mr Prodi also reckoned that Euro 50m went to educational NGOs and Euro 70m to social NGOs.
So every year, vast amounts of our money are handed out by the EU to bodies whose only job is to promote the EU. This is of course in addition to the requirement that any project funded by EU money must advertise the fact, despite the money being ours anyway. Quite a racket.
The spectacle of organisations that receive EU money using their money to campaign for more EU money is only one example of this looking-glass world. It is a world in which so called NGOs are actually dependent on government for cash; and one in which the European Commission, itself directly financed by Europe's national governments, finances autonomous organisations that campaign for more power and money to be handed to the commission itself.
So we are paying to be advertised to whether we like it or not. How rigged do you think the referendum campaign is going to be.

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