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Conservatives blast "out of touch" EU spending plans

Wednesday, 6th July 2011

Conservative MEPs yesterday told the EU Commission President that he must think again about the EU's "out of touch" plans to demand more money from taxpayers.

Jose Manuel Barroso, outlining his budget plans to the European Parliament sitting in Strasbourg, was told the proposals were "absolutely wrong" in times of economic crisis.

Roger Helmer, who represents the East Midlands region in the European Parliament, commented:

"We could be forgiven for thinking that supporters of the so-called 'European Project' actually want it to fail. They seem to be doing their very best to discredit the European Union in the eyes of public opinion.

"How can the European Union justify a substantial real increase in its budget of something like five to seven per cent to pay for 'more Europe'? Demanding 'more Europe' has simply become a knee-jerk response to every problem. But the public have long since stopped believing in it.

"This proposal is yet another 'wish-list' by a European Úlite which every day becomes more distant from the real, every-day concerns of ordinary people.

"The President must stop obsessing about the future funds at his disposal and should divert his energy to improving the quality of existing expenditure. He should set an example to the rest of Europe; but instead he proves, yet again, to be out of touch with the real economy and out of touch with real people."

Mr Barroso had defended proposals for the EU's next multi-annual financial framework, its long-term spending plans to 2020, which Conservative MEPs fear will send the EU budget soaring by up to seven per cent -- despite governments across Europe being forced to implement austerity measures.

The proposals would also allow the European Commission to by-pass national governments and raise its own taxes by introducing a European VAT and possibly a tax on financial services, which could threaten the City of London.

The European Conservatives and Reformists Group, which includes all 26 Conservative MEPs, has demanded instead a budget freeze to reflect the reality of the economic crisis. The group rejects as an attack on national sovereignty all proposals to give the EU its own direct tax-raising powers.

In order for Mr Barroso to get back in touch with people and the economy he should have imposed similar austerity measures to those of national governments. He should cut waste, tackle fraud and reform traditional priorities such as the Common Agricultural Policy, according to Conservative MEPs. Instead, he chose to ignore the advice of five heads of major governments who pay the EU's bills by spending more and demanding new direct taxes.

Mr Barroso says he has a commendable aim of boosting jobs and competitiveness. But Mr Helmer commented: "At this time of crisis, his instincts are right -- his actions are wrong".