Future of the EU Oct02
Commission last week urged the Council and European Parliament to approve
ten countries from East and Central Europe for full membership of the EU.
The Commission would like this enlargement to be a reality by 2004 so that
the years 2004 -2009 will see a European Union of 25 Member States with a
population increasing from 380 million to 450 million.
This enlargement will
bring peace, democracy and prosperity to these nations. It will offer new
opportunities to British industry and commerce, especially in financial
and management services. This should boost UK exports in areas where
Germany has dominated in the past.
poses two major problems for the UK. The
accession countries, especially Poland with its 2 million farmers, are
expecting their fair share of agricultural subsidies from the budget of
the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The budget financing CAP at present
is £37 billion (50% of the total EU budget). Either this budget will have
to be shared out with less money available to our farmers or the budget
will need to increase by 20% thereby increasing our share of what we pay
to the EU. Free movement of labour could put pressure on our social
services if some of the underpaid and unemployed move west and end up in
I believe that these
accession countries should have equal voting rights and benefits of
membership. We did when we joined. However, the EU did not pay us to
privatise our economy and it did not give us subsidies to upgrade our
industrial and agricultural standards to comply with the "Acquis
Communitaire". Rights come with responsibilities and there should be
no easy ride at our expense!
The European Commission and the Parliament
must offer value for money for existing Member States. I am disappointed
that the Parliament has erred in hosting a grand three day
“celebration” in Strasbourg (19-21st November) for 200
parliamentarians from accession countries as well as 120 print and
broadcast journalists. The European Commission President, Mr. Prodi, and
the Danish Prime Minister will be VIP guests and a selection of MEPs will
be invited for a photo opportunity. The Parliament will spend more than
€725,000 of European taxpayers' money to wine, dine and treat to a
concert costing more than €80,000, these politicians and journalists.
The topic of discussion among the delegates will be the “future” of an
enlarged EU – a topic that has been already exhaustively debated in the
European Parliament, the Laeken Convention, the Committee of the Regions,
the Economic and Social Committee and numerous other conferences.
Why should the European Parliament waste
taxpayers' money in this way? Are these “celebrations” simply hatched
to offer photo opportunities for the select few who lead the European
Parliament? Such money would be better spent in promoting debates at grass
roots level in each Member State so that ordinary citizens can express
their views and concerns on the enlargement process.
European citizens need sustainable jobs,
security and economic prosperity. They will accept enlargement on the
right terms. They will not accept pompous displays of extravagance that
produce hot air and little else!