I had a piece published in the Daily Mail on the need to cut the EU Budget. You can read the piece online here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2219728/The-EU-Budget-Its-Time-Cold-Turkey.html
the full text can also be found below.
“For all the talk of the Euro and the detailed minutiae surrounding the various EU financial mechanisms, to really find the underlying problem within the EU you have to go to the source: its multi-billion budget.
As an accountant by trade my work for blue chip companies took me all over the world. In a stop over once over 20 years ago I decided to wander into a casino to see, not being a gambler myself, what all the garish bright lights and plush velour carpets were for.
I remember vividly a gentleman on a roulette table throwing handfuls after handfuls of cash away. Clearly not on a winning streak I was struck that he had no self-control and was desperately trying to alter the inevitable outcome. It was not a pretty sight.
Fast forward to 2002 when I was Chief Accountant of the European Commission. The image of that gambler seemed like the perfect metaphor of how the EU budget handled its budget. There were simply no proper controls in place.
I invested my energy in trying to reform this. But just as I am sure that the gentleman in the casino would have given me short shrift for suggesting he change his strategy, so it was the with the bureaucrats within the European Commission.
It was much easier to fire me before making any of the changes I suggested and carry on as normal.
In the early 2000′s the EU economy appeared to be blooming and the Institutions took pride in making people believe that it was playing a major role in that development.
Nothing could have been further from the truth as the eurozone crisis has so vividly and tragically demonstrated.
Since the year 2000 Thousands of millions of Euros have been poured into countries like Greece, Spain or Italy.
Under the auspices of the Lisbon Agenda, these funds were earmarked to underline the European Commission’s then mission statement – ‘to make Europe the most dynamic knowledge based economy in the world by 2010.’
Greece received 60 billion Euro in Structural funding alone during that period while Spain received 130 billion and Italy 80 billion. The logical question has to be where has all that money gone? After many years of asking and countless written and oral questions to the Commission on this I am none the wiser. The only thing we can know for certain is that it clearly did not go towards ‘growth’.
What I have found however is that the European Commission refused to exercise controls on the proper use of the funding and very literally passed the buck to the beneficiaries.
The European Court of Auditors has, for over a decade now, refused to give EU expenditure a clean bill of health due to the high level of what they call “errors” but the European Commission has steadfastly ignored their criticism.
The European Parliament, supposed to scrutinise the Commission, has repeatedly ignored the Court and has instead underwritten this spending by continuously approving the Commission’s continued mismanagement of taxpayers’ money.
Instead of recognising this the EU institutions are now trying to demand another budget rise of almost 7% for 2013 citing the “need for growth”. To this end they have developed yet another new strategy called ’2020′, in reality Lisbon mark 2.
The arguments to justify the rise are that the Institutions need the cash to pay for the commitments to finance projects that they have already entered into. But they do not explain to the public that the said “commitments” are written in the sand and most do not represent legal obligations in any way, manner or form.
Let us assume that the EU gets the rise, where would it spend the money?
Cohesion funding where co-financing is required on the side of the member states for infrastructure projects for example has been talked up. But one wonders how countries crippled with debts can even manage to raise the money to co-finance such projects.
To add further drama the Commission and Parliament announced just last week that they had a 10 Billion Euro shortfall and threatened that without a rise they would have to stop payments towards the Erasmus programme.
Anyone who knows what this programme is about will be aware that except for the most dedicated and conscientious students Erasmus ends up being a sort of gap year where students go around the world meeting people and having fun. And while the students receive a grant to cover some of the costs a big chunk needs to be financed by their families many of whom are deeply affected by the crisis already.
The reality is that the unemployed population in the EU has grown to some 25 million people, and the rate is up to 23 % for those between 18 and 24 years. Has Erasmus then, this flagship EU policy, in all its years of existence made any difference? The answer would have to be no. Some threat then.
These are two simple examples of the usefulness of EU “investments” but there are countless more. All multi-Million projects, all riddled with errors. All part of this new 2020 strategy. All so far supported by the European Parliament.
But it is our fault too. We are, after all, propping up a set of Institutions that point blank refuses to reform how its spends its assets: your and my taxes.
Let us return to that Casino for a moment. If it was your money would you keep lending it to our gentleman at the roulette table? Or would you have a stern word in his ear and tell him to walk away from the table?
The answer to me is obvious. So why wont we do the same for the EU?
Cutting the EU budget is exactly the cold turkey that the Institutions need if they are to be made to reform in any meaningful way. The continued status quo will achieve nothing other than more debt and more waste.”