Conservatives blast "out of touch" EU spending plans
Posted, July 05, 2011 @ 00:00
Strasbourg, 5th July 2011 -- Conservative MEPs today told the European Union and its president to think again about their "out of touch" plans to demand more money from taxpayers.
EU president Jose Manuel Barroso, outlining his budget plans to the European Parliament sitting in Strasbourg, was told the proposals were "absolutely wrong" in times of economic crisis.
Martin Callanan, leader of the Conservative MEPs, said: "It is hard to imagine that supporters of the so-called 'European Project' actually want it to succeed! They seem to me to be doing their very best to discredit the European Union in the eyes of public opinion.
"How can the European Union justify a substantial real increase in its budget of something like five to seven per cent to pay for 'more Europe'? Demanding 'more Europe' has simply become a knee-jerk response to every situation. But the public have long since stopped believing this.
Mr Callanan, MEP for North-East England, added: "This proposal is simply yet another 'wish-list' by a European elite which every day becomes more distant from the real, every-day concerns of ordinary people."
He told Mr Barroso: "You must stop obsessing about the future quantity of funds at your disposal and should divert this energy to improving the quality of existing expenditure.
Richard Ashworth, Conservative MEP for the South-East of England, told the president: "You could have set an example to the rest of Europe; but instead you prove, yet again, out of touch with the real economy and out of touch with real people.
Mr Barroso had defended proposals for the EU's next multi-annual financial framework, its long-term spending plans to 2020, which Conservative MEPs fear will send the EU budget soaring by up to seven per cent - despite governments across Europe being forced to implement austerity measures.
The proposals would also allow the European Commission to by-pass national governments and raise its own taxes by introducing a European VAT and possibly a tax on financial services, which could threaten the City of London.
The European Conservatives and Reformists Group, which includes all 26 Conservative MEPs, has demanded instead a budget freeze to reflect the reality of the economic crisis. The group rejects as an attack on national sovereignty all proposals to give the EU its own direct tax-raising powers.
Mr Ashworth told Mr Barroso that to be in touch with people and the economy he should have imposed similar austerity measures to national governments. He should have cut waste, tackled fraud and been prepared to reform traditional priorities such as the Common Agricultural Policy.
Instead he chose to ignore the advice of five heads of major governments who pay the EU's bills by spending more and creating new direct taxes.
Mr Ashworth acknowledged Mr Barroso's aim of boosting jobs and competitiveness, but told him: "At this time of crisis, your instincts are right - your actions are wrong."