Monday, August 09, 2010

The EU wants more of your money - but wants to hide the fact

Currently the money that goes from the UK to the EU is pretty visible. It goes in the form of a direct block based upon the relative wealth of the country. There are also subventions from VAT and so on.

But in these times of austerity, with budgets being cut across the public sector, governments are a little embarrased that they are unable to cut the amount being sent to Brussels.

So what to do to silence the critics? Tough job.

So the EU is now floating an idea that will allow them to get their hands on people's cash, whislt simultaneously allowing Governments to pretend that the ampount of money going to Brussels is decreasing. Thus shifting the cost burden to Joe public below the obvious balance sheet.

Thus we have the Budget Commissioner Mr Janusz Lewandowski talking to the FT Duetschsland (and reported by EU Observer)
"If the EU had more of its own revenues, then transfers from national budgets could be reduced. I hear from several capitals, including important ones like Berlin, that they would like to reduce their contribution," he added.

He indicated that possible tax sources for Brussels could include an aviation tax and a financial transaction tax. Mr Lewandowski also has his eye on the money raised from the auctioning of CO2 emissions rights, something due to start in 2013.
The dishonesty is palpable. This money is still gouing to come from the punter, in these cases through increased costs, and it will be less transparent.

Though of course if on the bill for your flight, or on your bank charges there was a line
"Taxes for EU contribution", then maybe it would be at least honest. But that isn't going to happen. The businesses in question, desperate not to upset their regulatory masters would never do anything as honest. (except maybe Ryanair)

Maybe Lewandowski is shooting the breeze

HT @OpenEurope


Eurocentric said...

I'm not sold on the idea of EU taxes yet; it would depend on the form, and the circumstances.

The taxes they receive at the moment are only clear because [or in the sense that] the government hands them over (at least for a certain percentage of the budget). More direct taxation isn't necessarily less transparent - surely it can be stated how much came from where. In any case, it would be clearer what/who was being taxed for the EU budget.

At the moment the CAP and other budget items are part of intergovernmental compromises. Under a more direct system, there would be more pressure (as I assume your party and others would apply it) to raise or lower taxes or for their abolishment. Wouldn't that make it more transparent in some aspects, and perhaps for a Euroskeptic party, make the taxation more visible to campaign against (i.e. see, you're directly paying for this)?

Of course, I'm not saying that all of these aspects would happen, but the form and method of how/why taxation is decided at a European level means that there are ways in which it could be made better/less bad than it is at the moment.

Gawain Towler said...

Eurocentric, I entirely take your point. There is good and bad in this from most perspectives , but as somebody else has said, at least the elephant is in the room.