Tuesday, November 9, 2010

And another thing

Well, several other things but let us look at one of them first: that pesky EU annual budget. There were several Written Questions in the House of Lords, one from Lord Taylor of Warwick (rather surprising, that) and a couple from Lord Stoddart of Swindon.

The answers are really interesting. There is a good deal of blah about the unacceptability of the European Parliament's proposals of increasing the budget by nearly 6 per cent and slightly fewer references to the original promise of freezing the budget. We are now terribly proud of the fact that we were co-signatories of a letter with "Germany, France, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden, Czech Republic, Denmark, Austria, Finland, Slovenia, Estonia and Malta" that demanded an increase of no more than 2.9 per cent, curiously enough the figure suggested by France and Germany.

Let us now have a look at Lord Stoddart's second question and the answer to it
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the decision by the European Parliament to increase the 2011 European Union budget by 5.9 per cent will require the specific agreement of Parliament.
By Parliament Lord Stodart means the one in Westminster. And here is the answer that explains a couple of things
On 20 October the European Parliament adopted its position in relation to the draft European Union budget for 2011 proposed by the European Commission. It proposed a 5.9 per cent increase in the budget from 2010 levels.

On 29 October, the Prime Minister and 12 other EU leaders signed a joint letter saying that the European Parliament's proposals "are especially unacceptable at a time when we are having to take difficult decisions at national level to control public expenditure. The Council has proposed an increase in EU budget spending of 2.91 per cent for 2011. We are clear that we cannot accept any more than this". The European Parliament and the Council are now meeting in a conciliation committee to try to reach agreement on a final budget for 2011.

The European Commission's draft budget and the Government's approach to annual budget negotiations are subject to parliamentary scrutiny. This is an important process, enhancing transparency, accountability and the Government's formulation of policy towards these negotiations. The final EU annual budget agreed at the end of the process does not require specific parliamentary agreement.
In other words, as this blog and EUReferendum keep saying, there is no agreement as yet on next year's annual budget. The conciliation committee is still discussing it. And, secondly, once the EU annual budget is agreed on it will be scrutinized but no "specific parliamentary agreement" will be required. We can scrutinize but we have to accept and pay up.

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