Members of the European Parliament have voted to increase the European Union’s annual budget by an astonishing €4 billion next year, even as member states struggle with the fallout from Brussels-imposed austerity measures. The whopping budget rise is also a blow for Britain’s Conservative Government, as Prime Minister David Cameron last year vowed to secure a budget cut.
Yesterday, in the midst of a major migrant crisis affecting the whole of the EU from Romania to Ireland, from Greece to Sweden, and with the governments in Greece and more recently Portugal having been replaced by Brussels appointees and ordered to enact drastic austerity measures, MEPs from across the 28 Member State bloc met to decide on next year’s EU budget.
In a building which looks remarkably like an ivory tower in certain light, they made their decision: to spend, spend, spend.
Among the projects reaping the rewards were a number dedicated to propagandising the benefits of the EU to its citizens: €1 million will be spent next year on promoting the EU’s motto “United in Diversity” to citizens, especially at the local level.
Half a million euros has been allocated to a pilot project named “Share Europe Online,” which is aimed at improving the way European institutions use social media to promote themselves within the member states.
Another half million will be spent on finding ways to reduce the cost of creating subtitles for the output of the EU’s own media company, thereby broadening the audience that it reaches.
Yet another half million on arts projects which promote European ideals. Among the messages conveyed through artistic means are: “Europe is a state of mind formed and fostered by its spiritual, philosophical, artistic and scientific inheritance,” “Europe is a moral and political responsibility, which must be carried out, not only by institutions and politicians, but by each and every European,” and perhaps most alarmingly: “Europe is a state of mind that also exists beyond its borders”
Between €25,000 and €50,000 is due to be spent next year on promoting European policymaking to the EU’s citizens as a method of persuading them to participate, through the “Europe for Citizens” scheme.
And a spectacular €461,214,000 million will be splurged on a program dedicated to “building an autonomous Europe’s Earth observation capacity,” by placing sensors across land, sea, air and in space. In essence, it will be an EU space program.
In all of these cases Britain’s Labour, Green and Scottish National Party delegations voted in favour, while the Liberal Democrats merely abstained.
UKIP MEP and Budget Control committee member Jonathan Arnott said: “Europhile MEPs have gone for a bunker-busting budget, increasing spending commitments by 4 billion euro. This is a major defeat for Cameron who boasted of getting an agreement to cut the budget at the European Council in 2015. This has been shown to be a sham.”
According to Mr Arnott Ukip MEPs tabled 142 amendments to the budget all designed to save money. Measures included cutting MEPs salaries and allowances, cutting propaganda schemes and scrapping the EU House of History, but each and every one was voted down. Labour MEPs instead opted to vote for budget increases in the Parliament.
“Cameron told us a year ago that he had negotiated an EU budget decrease, but this has come to nothing,” Mr Arnott said. “Just as the UK has been defeated 55 times on crucial votes in the Council of Ministers over the last number of years, so the UK government has suffered defeated once again. The EU loves spending member state’s money, the only way to stop them doing this is to leave the EU.”
Last year Mr Cameron took to the BBC’s Today Program to tell the people of Britain: “People say you’ll never be able to cut the EU budget. I’ve cut the EU Budget… I’ve got a track record of doing what I say I’m going to do.”
The economist Tim Congdon responded to his comments by saying: “This is untrue. In fact, it is so untrue that Cameron must now be labelled a liar. Cameron’s claim is contradicted by readily available statistics in official documents from the government of which, in some sense, he is meant to be “the leader”. Yes, political rhetoric and practical reality are often different things, but this is ridiculous.”