Saturday, July 06, 2013

Victory on cutting the EU budget


In a historic triumph for David Cameron, the EU budget is set to be trimmed by nearly 6% next year.

Back in February, David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel persuaded the Council of Ministers that, with every county in Europe facing extreme austerity, the EU should bear a share of the savings which have to be made.

I strongly support this. At a time when individuals, families and businesses throughout Europe are short of money, and so are public services in every field, it would be crazy if the EU were the one organisation in Europe to be exempt.

Unbelievably, the European Parliament initially failed to pass the cut in the EU budge ceiling. I will come back to who was to blame for this. But following talks between MEPs and the president of the commission, MEPs agreed not to blog a new agreement covering the EU’s budget from 2014 until 2020.
 
This new deal was approved by the European Parliament this week by 474 votes to 193.  
 
Under the terms of the deal, spending will be reduced from €144.5 billion (£123bn) in 2013 to €135.9bn next year, a cut of 5.8 per cent.
 
Martin Callanan MEP, the leader of the European Conservatives, said: “This is an historic cut but we still have enormous amounts of fat that can be trimmed. Administration is normally the first thing to be cut in any government’s budget. Only in the EU would it increase at a time of belt-tightening.”
 
Martin is absolutely right that there is more to do. Although total EU spending is curbed under the deal, the cost of EU bureaucracy will rise by 1.5%. Compare this with the deep cuts announced in Britain's civil service and you can see that there is still much to do in bringing Europe's costs under control.
 
Britain needs to elect MEPS next year who will fight and fight again to drive costs down and keep them down. 
 
This budget reduction is a victory for David Cameron and for British Conservatives. You might think that UKIP members of the European parliament were also elected to cut the cost of the European Union to British taxpers.
 
So did UKIP do anything to help? NO.
 
Indeed, UKIP's representatives were part of the problem, not part of the solution.
 
There has been a great deal of confusion about how British MEPs voted when the original EU budget (known as the MFF or Multiannual Financial Framework) came before them a few months ago.

There were two votes, one vote on a Conservative/ECR motion to accept the summit deal (and cut the EU's budget ceiling) and another vote on a second motion to reject the budget deal as it currently stood, asking for more EU spending and extra taxes on all European taxpayers (particularly British ones.)

For British voters two things particularly stand out:

1) LIB/DEMS AND GREENS VOTED FOR EXTRA EU SPENDING AND HIGHER TAXES

The majority of Lib/Dem and Greens MEPs voted AGAINST the proposal to accept the budget cut and FOR the motion to reject it in the original form and demand higher spending and more taxes.

In other words they voted against cutting spending and taxes, and FOR higher taxes on British and European taxpayers. Nick Clegg quickly distanced himself from his MEPs but that's still the position they took.

Two or three Lib/Dem MEPs abstained or did not vote.


2) UKIP MEPS VOTED AGINST THE PROPOSAL TO CUT THE EU BUDGET

UKIP sent out conflicting signals about how they were going to vote. In the end those UKIP members of the European Parliament who were present voted against both motions.

The summit deal which proposes the first ever cut in the EU's budget ceiling and MFF had to be approved by the parliament to come into effect. If it had not been approved, the previous budget would stand. Since UKIP voted against that approval, they were effectively voting for the higher previous budget.

So UKIP voted against a cut in the EU budget.

The far-right British National Party's MEPs split, but it is worth noting that their chairman, North West MEP Nick Griffin, also voted against the Conservative motion to accept the summit. So in the North West, a vote for the BNP is also a vote AGAINST cutting the EU budget.

There is a useful "Votewatch.eu" website here where you can see how MEPs have voted on a wide range of issues by name, by country and by political group.

1) The votewatch page for the original vote in March on the motion to accept the summit's proposed budget cut can be found at

http://www.votewatch.eu/en/multiannual-financial-framework-motion-for-a-resolution-vote-resolution-as-a-whole.html

Note that on this motion a vote for (Green thumbs up sign) means a vote to support the summit resolution for a cut in the MFF budget ceiling.

A red thumbs down on this motion is a vote against the budget cut. And, although they're not exactly shouting it from the rooftops, that is how the UKIP delegation voted.

They said this was because the proposed budget is still too high, but this was not a very sensible position to take for the reason I have already explained, e.g. that if the parliament had not ratified a new deal as it eventually did this week, we would have been stuck with the previous, higher budget ceiling.

As far as I can tell UKIP have got themselves into an ideological cul-de-sac whereby they can't vote for an EU budget, even a reduced one, even if that meant that the higher MFF previously agreed still stood. And even if that means putting ideology before the interests of the British taxpayers they were elected to represent.


2) The votewatch page for the vote on the motion in March to reject the proposed budget in its' original form and demand higher contributions, more spending and new taxes can be found at

http://www.votewatch.eu/en/multiannual-financial-framework-motion-for-a-resolution-vote-resolution-as-a-whole-2.html

In this case a vote against (red thumbs down) means a vote against more spending and higher taxes, a vote for (green thumbs up) means a vote for higher spending, higher British contributions and new taxes paid to the EU.
 
3) The votewatch page for the European Parliament vote on 3rd July to pass the new MFF deal, with the reduced budget from 2013 to 2020, does not appear to be up on the site yet. I have sent in a query about this and will post a link as soon as it becomes available.

6 comments:

Jim said...

Now that is bad point scoring.

UKIP wanted a much further reduction in the EU budget. So they voted no to the half measure proposed and voted no to keeping the status quo.

It would be like you wanting to freeze council tax, when labour had proposed a 1.2% raise. So you vote no to raising it 4%, vote no to raising it 1.2% (you want a freeze) - And then Labour stating over and over how you had voted against a "real terms" cut in council tax.

Jim said...

This is the thing, its all just point scoring and "we are better than them" - Or "They done this" not that we will reverse it, or........


ONCE AGAIN, a better way - Each year a properly authenticated budget is presented each year in the HoC, Then the people are asked "do you accept this budget" - if the answer is no, then you are getting nothing until you think again, and present again.


5. no taxes or spending without consent: no tax, charge or levy shall be imposed, nor any public spending authorised, nor any sum borrowed by any national or local government except with the express permission of the majority of the people, renewed annually on presentation of a properly authenticated budget which shall first have been approved by their respective legislatures;

Chris Whiteside said...


Jim

Forgive me, but I entirely disagree with you.

I've been in exactly the position you give as your example - when the Conservatives want a council tax freeze and Labour wants to put the tax up - on more than one council including Copeland council not long ago.

And if you have the sense God gave a goose, in that situation you ALWAYS do what we did on Copeland Council in February 2009 - if you want a freeze, you don't just vote against everything else, which gets you exactly nowhere, you PROPOSE A MOTION FOR A FREEZE and vote for it.

Not just because it makes it harder for other people to misrepresent your position, although it does, but because that's the only way you have any way of getting what you want actually passed.

Or if you want a bigger cut you propose a motion for a bigger cut.

If UKIP wanted a bigger cut in the EU budget, they should have tabled a motion for one - and I'd bet that given the chance at least half the Tories and EHCR members would have voted for it.

The next thing is, if you want something, the first thing you do is propose it and try to get it passed, but if you lose, the next thing anyone with a reasonable number of working brain cells should do is limit the damage by voting for the least worst position you can get.

If you believe that increasing taxes is damaging, and you've proposed and lost the motion for a freeze, it is irresponsible not to then vote for the lowest increase you have a chance of getting passed.

If Labour was proposing to cut tax in real terms, if we voted against it, and if as a result it didn't go through, and what did go through was higher, they would have every right to accuse us of being partly responsible for the higher increase because it would be no more than the truth.

When you say of UKIP MEPs that "They voted no to the half measure proposed" you are right.

You could also have said "They voted no to the higher tax motion supported by most of the parliament" and that would have been true too.

But when you say that UKIP "voted no to keeping the status quo" you are wrong.

Under the EU rules, voting to keep the status quo is EXACTLY what you are doing if you vote against every proposal to change it.


On the direct democracy point - I like the principle but you would have to be very careful to ensure that the result of the votes are consistent.

California has a system like that but unfortunately it has been set up in a way which lets the voters put forward for propositions which force through both tax cuts and spending increases.

At the same time.

They keep voting for both those things, and in the process have made the state practically unmanageable.

Jim said...

I am not going to get into a point scoring debate Chris 1. because its rather childish
and
2. Its pointless - at least it is for me being a member of neither of the 2 party's invoked, yes i am sympathetic to grass roots ukipers and I am also sympathetic to grass routes torys.

I just don't see the main stream of either party in rose coloured glasses.

As for direct democracy, let me point out why California is still a better idea than the UK

Ok lets say the council (not the people) the council, decide to appoint me as meadow road cleaner. they give me a budget (of council tax payers money without ever asking if any of them want the service or not) of £5000 per year to me to sweep meadow road

I decide it would benefit the people of meadow road if i spend £45,000 paying people to sweep and polish it with toothbrushes, I do this on a credit card. I never ask anyone who i am supposed to be doing the service for if they want the service or not.

Once the credit card bill arrives, I divide the bill by the number of homes on meadow road, and post each of them a bill for that amount, under threat of prosecution if they do not pay their "fair share"

In California, at least the people voting for stupid policy's are the people who will pay for the consequences of their actions.

Could you imaging if someone done something so stupid here in Britain, some one named, oh i don't know, Lets pluck a name from the air, GORDON. Decided to recklessly and stupidly spend and borrow a load of money, sell off national assets, provide our money as bail outs to fraudsters, WITHOUT EVER GIVING THE PEOPLE THE CHANCE TO SAY NO, WE DO NOT WANT IT SPENT.

But then had the nerve to ask all taxpayers to foot the bill for such stupidity when the inevitable crash happened??? - Could you imagine what a stupid system that would be?



Chris Whiteside said...

I see what you are saying. We used to have a system before the "Standards Board" called "surcharging."

It meant that if councillors made a decision which was illegal (e.g. outside their proper powers) and either stupid or unethical then those councillors were personally liable to repay the costs out of their own money.

That system was still in effect when I first became a councillor and I recall that it made one or two meetings quite frightening.

It was scrapped partly because there were instances of officers or developers bullying councillors to take the decisions they wanted by threatening those councillors with financial ruin under the surcharging procedure.

I suspect this may have been throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

The point about California was not that more direct democracy is a bad thing, just that you have to be careful how you set it up.

Jim said...

I just think government should be more like life. I work as a PM, (project manager, not prime minister)
now, if someone wants some money for something they have to make a case to me for how much they want, what they want it for, provide a quote for what they want to buy, state why they absolutely need it, prove why they absolutely need it, show why it cant be a cheaper model, and give me a plan showing how they will implement this new thing, what are the benefits, and what are down sides of doing nothing.

If they do this then ok, here is your money.

If they fail on any count then they get 2 words which I will not post here.