Labour MEP Glyn Ford submitted a written question to the European Commission, asking how the €162,387,985 EU Solidarity Fund (EUSF) money should be spent. I’ve twice posted about this matter before, when it looked like the Treasury would try to keep 2/3 of the money for its own uses to make up for reductions in the UK rebate. The response from Danuta Hübner, Regional Affairs Commissioner, states: “Any amounts not spent or spent for ineligible operations will be recovered by the Commission”. So the Commission will demand the cash back if it’s not used for flood aid. Now over to the MEPs in the areas that were flooded to make sure that happens!

8 Comments

  1. DK – some valid points… But in the wider scale of the UK government’s budget the contribution to the EU is very small. The UK net contribution, after the rebate, is around 2.5 billion pounds a year, and DWP’s annual budget is 105 billion pounds…

  2. Jon,

    I’ll make the tediously obvious point that were we not paying in some billions, nett, our government could actually afford to sort out the flood defenses and compensation without EU hand-outs.*

    DK

    * This doesn’t mean that they would. However, the department responsible for flood defenses, Defra, has been (a) extremely unwise with its spending, and (b) underspending on flood defences for years (see Private Eye passim).

    They are also facing an additional £350 – £400 million + EU fine for not disbursing the CAP payments properly.

    Therefore, whilst the EU is handing over £31 million to help with the flood damage with one hand, it is taking away ten times that from the department responsible with the other.

    Now, you might point out that Defra should have sorted out the CAP payments and that their incompetence has led to their fine, and I would agree with you.

    But I, of course, would hold it up as an example of the incompetence of government in general and use it to campaign for less state interference.

  3. Let us just get out of the new EUSSR and we will not
    have to have all this ball-aching tosh about who gives what to whom !

  4. Jon, two fairly separate issues.

    One, it is our money, all of it, we pay in more than we get out, sure – that’s a general EU-sceptic point. I think it’s a fair thing to point out in a propaganda sense, but I think it’s different from the point being raised here.

    Two, this specific issue. Say for example the EU was giving the UK £650million of our own money back this year, and we were spending £400m of it on x, and £250m of it on y.

    Now, because of the floods, it is giving us £681m. If we spend £110m on flood-hit areas, we have £571m of “EU money” left over to pay for projects x and y, do we not? If the EU really wants to give us £110 million for flood-hit areas, it needs to up our annual funding from £650 million to £760 million, does it not?

    Because I don’t know about you, but if someone told me they were going to give me eleven pounds, and at the end of the process I found I only had three pounds more than I had expected, and then they told me I had to give the eleven pounds to someone else, I’d feel like I’d been diddled out of eight pounds.

    I’m happy to give the EU extra tax-raising powers, by the way. I don’t think the British Government should get the blame for that portion of tax – it certainly doesn’t get the credit for the spending, since displaying the flag and the “funded by the EU” is compulsory for EU-funded projects.

  5. Not that kind of tax raising powers… Plus customs duties and agricultural levies are less than 15% of the total EU budget, and have been declining in real terms for decades.

  6. The EU has tax raising powers. Import duties are set by it and flow to it. Which of course is why we’ll not have free trade while this iniquitous system persists.

  7. Yes, yeah, bla, it’s our money, bla, bla…

    Give the EU tax raising powers, democratically controlled by the European Parliament. That’s the way to end this pettiness.

  8. Good – but please stop claiming that “The Treasury” is trying to pocket £79 million. The EU will pocket the £79 million by taking it out of our rebate.

    The Government should spend £110 million in the flood hit areas, they need it. But the EU is only giving us £31 million pounds, not £110 million.

    To spend the full £110 million, the Government will need to tax, borrow, or disinvest from elsewhere, the sum of £79 million.

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