Monday, October 18, 2010

"The British are an endangered species"

Or so says a Commission official when talking about the simple fact that 5% of Eurocrats are UK nationals, whilst we make up 12% of the population of the EU and of course are one of the few countries that pay into the pot, rather than take out.

It is of course all a little reminiscent of Milton Friedman's old saw about money and responsibility.

There are four ways in which you can spend money. You can spend your own money on yourself. When you do that, why then you really watch out what you’re doing, and you try to get the most for your money. Then you can spend your own money on somebody else. For example, I buy a birthday present for someone. Well, then I’m not so careful about the content of the present, but I’m very careful about the cost. Then, I can spend somebody else’s money on myself. And if I spend somebody else’s money on myself, then I’m sure going to have a good lunch! Finally, I can spend somebody else’s money on somebody else. And if I spend somebody else’s money on somebody else, I’m not concerned about how much it is, and I’m not concerned about what I get. And that’s government. And that’s close to 40% of our national income
Nick Clegg, who of course worked as a EU Spad in the Cabinet of Leon Britain and William Hague are keen to up the number of Brits working for the EU institutions. Going so far as to set up and support a new version of the old EU fast stream amongst our brightest and best civil servants. This they believe will result in more of the EU's policy making being done from an UK perspective, created with a comprehension of the vagaries of the Common Law and so on. And you know what, in the margins, they may have a point. Some of the unspoken assumptions that arrive from being part of a culture will indeed rub of on policy making.

But, and this is of course the nub, at best they will only make up 12% of officials. And their loyalty will switch from the UK, to the EU. So we will see our civil service top sliced, with many of our brightest and best becoming people who, by dint of their contract (and of course the self interest created by the pay and conditions (Eurocrats are only human after all),

A starting salary of £45,000 plus a relocation bonus of £7,200. A pension worth up to 70% of your final salary and 24 days of leave plus "travel" days. Oh, and a job for life.

All this, and more, is up for grabs if you manage to pass the entrance exams to work for the European Union.
will be working against UK interests. They will of course convince themselves that by furthering the interests of the EU they will be furthering the interests of the UK, as if the two things are synonymous, but that is just not the case in the vast majority of areas of public debate.
They will be working for somebody else, and at best be a tiny majority.

So do pray tell how can this be in our interest? One of the saddest aspects of the major enlargements into Central and eastern Europe was the wholesale destruction of national civil services as senior and talented officials of the new countries fought over jobs in the EU institutions. Salaries were on offer at 19 times the available wages in their home countries.

Of course the differentials for the UK civil servants are nothing like as extreme, but losing talent to the other side generally doesn't work.

If a leading cricket club flogs its best players to opposing clubs, then it can hardly be surprised if the other clubs prosper. Oh they may take on a couple of the characteristics of the original side, but when your best batsmen are playing for the other side, don't be surprised if the other side win.

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