No to EU Social Scoreboard

Local letter sent to regional media 28 November 2013

I am concerned that Eurocrats in Brussels are attempting to extend their influence further into matters which must remain with nation states; this week the so-called Social Scoreboard as proposed by a Socialist member of the European Parliament could give license to the EU to meddle in matters such as health care, benefits and housing policy.

Conservative MEPs are fighting against these plans which would score member states on measures such as child-poverty levels, access to healthcare, homelessness and on a decent-work index. Labour and Liberal Democrat MEPs however voted in support of the EU intervention. Despite the fact that the report is presented in the context of the single currency, there is no clause exempting countries outside the Eurozone, such as the United Kingdom.

This is an attempt by socialist members of the European Parliament to create a role for the EU as Europe’s social conscience. And, worse than that, they want to appropriate powers to supervise and intervene in the manner in which member states deal with social problems. They want to set up an EU social police.

Nobody would oppose attempts to eradicate poverty, ill health and homelessness, but I firmly believe this is a matter for individual nation states to tackle, not Brussels based European Union institutions.


First ever cut in the EU’s long-term budget


The European Parliament finally agreed the EU’s long-term budget today after months of wrangling.

The broad deal is the same one driven through with fellow leaders by David Cameron in Brussels last February, and Conservative MEPs today welcomed the final settlement of the spending blueprint which will take the EU through to 2020.

After MEPs put their seal on the agreement in a vote in Strasbourg, Richard Ashworth MEP, Conservative negotiator, said: “We have been four square Behind David Cameron’s deal from day one and we have made it stick. It is the first ever cut in the EU’s long-term budget and we have protected the British rebate, worth £3 billion a year.

“We have also seen off attempts for the EU to give itself new tax-raising powers, including the menace of the Financial Transactions Tax.

“We have secured greater focus on important research and development budgets which will drive recovery.

“Attempts by some MEPs renegotiate the Cameron deal have failed.

“This is a major step forward, but the need remains for wholesale reform of the budget process, to deliver truly forward-looking investment budgets in future.”

The deal reached contains the following elements (in 2011 prices):

• Commitment appropriation ceiling set at €960bn/£812bn or 1% GNI (a €15bn/£13bn cut from the current level and an €85bn/£72bn cut from the Commission proposal), this is a 3.4% cut on the current framework.

• The payment appropriation (actual cash) ceiling is set at €908bn/£768bn or 0.95% GNI (a €17.176bn/£14.56bn cut from the current level and €79.2bn/£67bn cut from the Commission proposal), this is a 3.7% cut on the current framework. This is the lowest ever % since multiannual budgets were introduced in 1993 and the first time that the EU budget has been cut.

• UK keeps its rebate in its current form (worth up to £20bn in the next MFF).

• No new own resources for the duration of the new MFF, the FTT and new VAT proposals from the Commission will therefore not be adopted to fund the EU budget.

• The deal sees more money going to new Member States (rather than simply being recycled among richer Member States) and a concentration of funds in those areas which add value, such as a 34% increase in the funds devoted to research and development.

• These proposals would save the UK taxpayer roughly €600m/£500m a year

New budget agreement: Conservatives continue to bear down on EU costs

An agreement was struck in the early hours of today (Tuesday) on the European Union’s budget for 2014.

The package agreed will see headline spending fall from €144.3 billion this year to €135.5 billion in 2014.

However, after protracted negotiations in Brussels between the European Parliament, the Commission and the EU Council, it was agreed to incorporate additional retrospective sums (amending budgets) into the 2014 budget. When adding in inflation, these will mean a real-terms freeze in the EU budget as compared with the initially-agreed budget for 2013.

Richard Ashworth, leader of Britain’s Conservative MEPs and a key UK negotiator on budget, said: “We welcome what is an effective freeze of EU budget. Headline spend is still set to fall by six per cent.

“While we voted against additions to the budget, we welcome the overall direction. Alongside the historic 3.8% reduction which we have secured on the EU’s long-term budget, this as further evidence of us bringing genuine discipline to EU spending.

“These kind of negotiations will become the norm as EU is obliged to come to terms with life in the real world.

“Our drive to bring down costs in Europe is continuing to bring results. It began with David Cameron’s historic long-term-budget deal last February – and it is continuing now.

“It is particularly welcome that money has been switched away from less-useful budget headings to the important areas of research and development, education, training and jobs. If we are to restart Europe’s economy, this is where spending needs to be focused instead of on pet schemes, bureaucracy and vanity protects.

“In the long term there needs to be a complete review of the structure of the EU budget from top to bottom, but for the time being this is a step in the right direction.”