The EU Budget: a tool for investment in jobs and growth

April 27, 2012 9:35 am

The EU budget never fails to attract the attention of the UK press. This week’s proposal for a 6.8% rise in the EU budget for 2013 certainly grabbed the headlines. At a time when the Tory-led coalition is making devastating cuts to the funding of public services, it’s easy to see why people think an increase in the EU budget is unacceptable.

​So what’s the reason for this increase? Commissioner Lewandowski explains that this money is already committed to projects – bills need to be paid, even in times of crisis.  The UK government has already made clear that they think this level of increase in unacceptable. But what they fail to tell you is that they agreed to fund projects and programmes that now need to be paid for. If the UK, like some other member states, want to achieve a real terms freeze, they have to be ready to identify areas where real savings can be made.

Take the Common Agricultural Policy for example. The Tories often wax lyrical about reform of the CAP, but failed to vote for a number of amendments put down by Labour MEPs to scrap wasteful export subsidies that are actually undermining our efforts to fight against global poverty. Of course, we know that in order to make long term savings in this area, we need real reform of the CAP. It’ll be interesting to see if Cameron can deliver on this when the next seven year spending framework is decided, or whether he’ll leave the CAP unreformed in return for a spending freeze and keeping the UK rebate.

Since the crisis, Labour MEPs have maintained a consistent line on the overall increase of the EU budget. We need to achieve a real terms freeze. You may ask how this position differs from that of the Tories. The real difference is this: we take real action. We don’t simply condemn the increase, but demonstrate where savings can be made.

My recent report on the European Parliament’s budget demonstrates this. I have managed to achieve a real terms cut for 2013 by freezing all members’ allowances until the end of the current mandate, cutting expenditure on travel and making efficiency savings across the board. My report also outlines where the biggest saving for the tax payer could be made: a single seat for the European Parliament. This could save millions of pounds every year and also help to reduce our carbon footprint.

The 1.96% increase adopted by a huge majority is the starting point for negotiations. By the end of the year, I hope to have found additional savings which will further reduce the increase.

The EU budget should be seen as a tool for investment in jobs and growth. Billions of pounds have been pumped in to UK regions to help economic and social cohesion. Take Wales as an example. Every year, Wales receives around 400 million pounds of European funding which provides a valuable boost to local businesses, helps get people back in to work and supports community initiatives. Can you imagine a Tory-led government offering the same deal? This funding is vital for our regions and any cuts in this area would without doubt penalise the poorest in our society.

A freeze can be achieved but only by making targeted savings and by reprioritising spending. It can’t be achieved by empty rhetoric.

Derek Vaughan is a Labour MEP for Wales and the EPLP spokesperson on the EU Budget

  • GuyM

    The 2010 general election elected a government in favour of cutting deficits and government spending.

    An undemocratic EU should not seek to overturn that democratic reality by forcing through large budget increases even when all across Europe spending is being reduced.

    The fact that it is trying shows why the UK should refuse to fund its demands and hold a referendum immediately.

    • JoeDM

       Absolutely spot on.

      The EU is nothing but a drain on British enterprise.

  • Bill Lockhart

    The EU budget: a tool for waste, corruption and utterly pointless fat cat politicians.

  • https://mikestallard.virtualgallery.com/ Mike Stallard

    “the Tory-led coalition is making devastating cuts to the funding of public services”

    Total cuts~: £8,500,000,000.
    Total demand by EU = : £10,000,000,000.

    As a Tory Troll from Southern England, I must say that I am disgusted by the fact that this government is not cutting at all. The deficit and debt are increasing by leaps and bounds – much faster than that in USA (See John Redwood today for the figures).

    And I adore the naivety of your advice to the EU! Honestly! I am speechless!

  • Europhile

    The EU budget is far too small to have any significant economic impact.

    In any case the Council has in the last two years insisted on cutting the Commission’s proposed budget and after a lot of huffing and puffing the European Parliament has accepted the Council’s position.

    To save money they might want tob egin with their own bloated bureacracy at senior level, appointed on the back of political cronyism of the most blatant kind, Directors for everything under the sun, a ridiculous visitors centre for visitors who would come anyway,( being subsidised) the vainglorious House of Europe project and sundry other nonsenses

  • Pingback: Tooting Labour Party » News from Labour MEPs

Latest

  • Comment Building safer and more resilient communities

    Building safer and more resilient communities

    Despite the lowest crime for decades, many perceive that crime remains too high. Despite many child safety improvements, parents remain worried.Overall alcohol consumption is down, but many feel that drinking is out of control, particularly in city centres. Traditional drug use is lower, but ‘legal highs’ provide a new challenge. In a free and open society, the state cannot protect individuals from every conceivable danger at all times, or from the consequences of unwise choices.We can, however, help people make wiser decisions. How […]

    Read more →
  • News Seats and Selections Frank Dobson confirms he’s retiring as an MP

    Frank Dobson confirms he’s retiring as an MP

    As we reported last week, Frank Dobson is stepping down as MP for Holborn and St Pancras – and he’s officially announcing his decision this evening at a meeting of local party members. Dobson, who is retiring at the age of 74  began his career in politics at Camden London Borough Council, where he was elected as a councillor in 1971 before becoming leader of the council for two years later in 1973. Six years later he entered into the […]

    Read more →
  • News Shadow Home Office Minister steps down

    Shadow Home Office Minister steps down

    Shadow Home Office Minister Helen Jones is stepping down from the front bench. The Warrington North MP “wanted to spend more time in her constituency” Labour sources said – although her letter to Miliband announcing her decision appears to lack a clear explanation (it’s only 46 words long). Jones had been in the role since October last year (since the last reshuffle) and served as “Vice-Chamberlain of the Household” under Gordon Brown. A replacement for Jones will be announced “in […]

    Read more →
  • News The government have “lost sight of the diversity agenda in the civil service” – Labour will sort it out, says Dugher

    The government have “lost sight of the diversity agenda in the civil service” – Labour will sort it out, says Dugher

    At a speech to the National Trade Union Committee, Michael Dugher Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office, said  Labour would set new targets for the percentage of women and black and minority ethnic employees in the Senior Civil Service. He highlight how women and black and minority ethnic people are underrepresented in senior positions and criticised the current government for losing “sight of the diversity agenda in the civil service”. He said: “Under this Government, things have either been stalling […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News Weekly Survey: The NPF, Assisted Dying Bill and Miliband and Obama meet

    Weekly Survey: The NPF, Assisted Dying Bill and Miliband and Obama meet

    Labour held its final major National Policy Forum (NPF) meeting at the weekend to finalise positions on a whole swathe of of policy areas. LabourList covered it in depth – not only did we run a comprehensive liveblog all weekend and have first coverage of Ed Miliband’s speech, we also had reactions from those that were there. It was a weekend of “consensus, not conservatism” according to our Contributing Editor (and NPF delegate) Emma Burnell, while Mark Ferguson reckoned it meant a “reorientation […]

    Read more →