The European Union should have the power to raise taxes and use the money for “making investments on behalf of national governments,” according to one of the candidates to succeed José Manuel Barroso as next president of the European Commission.
José Bové, a French MEP who is the Green candidate to lead the commission, said in a debate at the weekend that the debt ceiling the EU imposes on governments would be acceptable “if the EU had its own resources [ie, could increase the money it takes from member states in various forms of tax] that it could devolve to making investments on behalf of national governments.”
The debt ceiling, part of the EU regulation known as the Stability and Growth Pact, has left millions of people across the 28 member states suffering under austerity imposed by national governments in order to meet the debt to GDP levels demanded by Brussels.
The EU-imposed austerity is one of the reasons typical workers across the EU saw their real tax rate rise again this year to more than 45 percent.
Bové’s plan would lead not only to an increased tax burden on workers, but to a feeding frenzy by the 15,000 corporate and political lobbyists in Brussels, all of whom would be trying to direct EU investments into their own industries and their own special interests.
It would be a lurch back to the 1960s and 70s, when governments across Western Europe, including in Britain, thought they could “pick winners” in industry and create growth through “government initiatives.”
Bové insisted: “We need to change, completely reshape the economy.”
He was speaking at a debate among four of Continental politicians, each of whom wants to be the next President of the European Commission.
In discussing the burden of the EU debt ceiling, none of the politicians thought the rigid debt ceiling of 3 per cent of GDP and deficit level of 60 per cent of GDP should be changed, despite the protests by people suffering across the EU: “The 3% is in the treaty. We cannot change the treaty, and we will not change the treaty,” said Martin Schulz, a German socialist who earns more than €95,000 (£78,000) a year plus allowances and expenses as President of the European Union.
The new President of the European Commission will earn €321,200 (£262,000) plus allowances, such as entertainment allowances, travel, accommodation, and a chauffeur driven car on 24-hour call.