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Eurosceptic Bloggers

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Scramble for Cash

The much vaunted European Idealism among both members and candidates usually comes down to a struggle for cold hard cash. The Spanish referendum where so many people voted for something without having any idea what it was about is a case in point. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. So it is no surprise that the ongoing budget wheeling and dealing is generating very little in the way of European idealism.
Ever since Margaret Thatcher wielded her handbag in the 1980s to demand her money back, the budget has caused friction.
And what one country wins, another has to lose:
It must be done unanimously by all 25 members, which is hard because the budget is a zero-sum game: more for one country means less for others.
This is the chief reason that the budget payments and allocations are totally and utterly irrational. Whatever logic you use to calculate who show pay what and how much should each receive, the answer is sure to be far from either the existing situation or whatever is finally thrashed out for the future. Some examples of the idiocy that we all pay for:
  1. Over 40% of the EU budget goes on the CAP, in support of a shrinking industry that accounts for less than 4% of EU GDP.
  2. The commission's plan to spend over half of EU regional aid in the 15 older members, 13 of which have above-average incomes.
There is no chance of this changing because: On CAP:
The obstacle to either cutting or renationalising the CAP is Mr Chirac himself.
On Regional Aid:
Big beneficiaries, such as Spain, will fight hard for their money
They will also gang up on the UK over the Iron Lady’s hard won rebate.
All this may, however, pale into insignificance compared with the likely row over Britain's budget rebate, which will pitch 24 countries against one. And The other 24 may be pushing hardest against the British rebate early next year, just as the referendum campaign is in full swing.
What can I say. The coming year is going to be fun. Try telling a sceptical British public that they should be more European, like the French, whilst Chirac is defending the CAP to the death, or to follow the Spanish lead as Zapetero is stopping regional aid going to countries much poorer than his. We will all see European Idealism in its true light, a scramble by member countries to gain financial advantage at everyone else’s expense.

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