November Column: Jacob Rees-Mogg MP

Published on: 09 Nov 2012

November Column: Jacob Rees-Mogg MP

Cynics believe that the European Union is deliberately devised in a complicated way to confuse electorates and politicians.  The more charitable take the view that it is no more impenetrable than the bureaucracy run by mandarins of the late Ming Dynasty.  The current discussions over the budget make either view seem rational. Jacob Rees-Mogg MP

 The European Union sets an annual budget which is agreed by the Commission (the bureaucracy), the Council (the political leaders of the individual member states) and the Parliament (the peripatetic representatives).

 In this case the Council uses the qualified majority voting method so no individual member state has a veto.  Overlaying this is the multi-annual financial framework under which Britain receives its rebate. It is subject to unanimity and so can only be taken away from us with our own agreement.  

This ought to be a good point at which to negotiate a cut in the EU budget.  We cannot be out-voted and all nations are tightening their belts.  

Unfortunately, the Lisbon Treaty has a complex formula which would increase the budget in the event of no agreement.  This makes the Government’s negotiating position difficult. It knows that too great an effort to cut the budget could lead to other nations vetoing the whole budget which would lead to more spending. 

Although this would be a lower figure than that asked for by the Commission in an age of domestic cuts it would be too high.  Thus I am supporting the Government as its apparently modest ambition would, in fact, be a triumph.

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