Janusz Lewandowski - CC / Flickr
Janusz Lewandowski - CC / Flickr

Budget Commissioner, Janusz Lewandowski, has said he will present some options next month for how direct EU taxes could work. The story is covered by the BBC. Cue a load of instant complains, howls of derision etc., particularly from Brits.

Wait a moment.

Think of what the EU does and how it is paid for. Roughly 40% of the EU budget is spent on agriculture, and the same amount on funding for the EU’s poorer regions (structural funds). The game played each year by the Commission and Parliament is to demand more money from the Member States, who then fend off the requests to bring the budget back down the roughly the same percentage of GNI as the previous year.

In short the way the EU budget works builds statsis into the system, and pits the EU institutions against the Member States. This is no good for anyone, least of all Europe’s tax payers as a load of cash is still wasted on CAP.

The issue to make EU taxation would be to ensure that taxation and representation run together – i.e. parties can put forward different taxation plans before European Parliament elections, and then have the power to put those into practice if they can command a majority in the European Parliament. This should be coupled with a constitutionally set maximum percentage of GNI allocated to the European level – perhaps the 1.24% of GNI currently in place. So, in short, you couple taxation with representation, and you bind the EU institutions to not spend excessively.

In addition there are some things that would have to be taxed supra nationally were they to work – taxation on aeroplane fuel (kerosene) for example. It’s unjust that petrol and diesel for road transport is taxed, yet kerosene is not. But if one EU state were to levy a kerosene tax then you make the environmental problem of air travel worse, as planes would refuel where it was cheapest (wherever practical) and fly heavier.

Now I have no idea what the Commission is going to come up with, and I would be astounded if it came close to meeting the principles I have outlined here. But – under the right circumstances – EU taxation is actually a good idea.

16 Comments

  1. Pingback: bloggingportal.eu Blog & Support » Blog Archive » The Week in Bloggingportal: No Representation Without Taxation

  2. Elated

    “Michael Gilleland” ?

    Must be some Oxbridge thing. 😉

    I’m just a continental schmuk hailing from the Latin/Math tradition.

  3. Jon,

    Enjoy your time away. Come back relaxed and refreshed.

  4. Look Ian… not only do I not keep an eye on the blog 24/7, but I am also on holiday in France in a village with 42 inhabitants and a patchy internet connection. In those circumstances moderating blog comments is not a very high priority. Your comments are automatically approved if they do not contain more than 2 links, but have to be approved by me if they do.

  5. Elated

    IanPJ, good thing I caught you here…

    I think it should either be
    “unionem … delendam esse” (eliptic reference to “ceterum censeo…” hence subject of subclause will take on accusative)
    or
    “.. delenda sit”

    Sorry,

    just another pen-pusher with too much time at hand.

  6. Elated,

    In his Laudator Temporis Acti, Michael Gilleland blogs references legitimating our use of the famous passive periphrastic (“Carthago delenda est“) of Cato who thought that “Carthage must be destroyed.” Gilleland says further that “Unio Europaea delenda est” (the E.U. must be destroyed — to save Europe) is also fine and a good effort at applying the rules about the gerundive and the “to be” verb.

  7. Disappointed, especially after you suggesting that I shouldn’t accuse of censorship.. or perhaps my 2 attempts at responding to Anthony Zacharzewski have disappeared into the spam queue and I am wrong..

  8. Anthony Zacharzewski, let me take your straw man apart item by item.

    How often do you think we should have referendums to approve membership ? Every year? Every six months? Till you get the result you want?

    Once, just once would be enough satisfy the people that they have had their say as to whether they wish to be part of this policital club. Do not pretend that our original membership was anything to do with political union, it was not.

    Or would it be better to accept that every state has its own democratic government, and that they (or in many cases, such as the UK, referendums) have approved entry, and have the right to withdraw.

    Again, you confuse the original 1975 referendum for joining a trading union with what we have now which is political union and transfer of sovereignty. In 1975 the people were clearly told that this was about food security, a trading partnership for industry, and were further explicitly told that further political moves such as economic and monetary union had been removed.. I quote

    There was a threat to employment in Britain from the movement in the Common Market towards an Economic & Monetary Union. This could have forced us to accept fixed exchange rates for the pound, restricting industrial growth and putting jobs at risk. This threat has been removed
    unquote

    That quote alone implied that Britain would not be part of any political transfer of powers. Remember also that in 1975 there was no internet, that single leaflet from the government was the only source that the people had to garner their information from. So either the leaflet was deceptive in which case a new referendum is needed, or it is outdated, in which case a new referendum is needed.

    As for the Irish vote, well that speaks for itself. Forcing a nation to vote and vote again until the EU gets the answer it wants is about as undemocratic as it comes. But those of us with long memories and an education in History have seen it all before.

    2. European Parliament, elected. Elected national governments in the council of ministers. Even more representativeness would better ? Agree. But it is representative now.

    Perhaps this article will explain just how worthless that so called representation is. Where the Authority and Power lie in very different places, and the power lies with the unelected.
    http://pjcjournal.wordpress.com/2010/02/22/authority-vs-power/
    where laws are made, by the unelected
    http://pjcjournal.wordpress.com/2010/02/22/what-election-candidates-wont-discuss/
    and the real government of Europe, appointed but none are elected.
    http://pjcjournal.wordpress.com/2010/02/09/meet-your-new-government/

    It is also worth noting that not a single UK political party has ever fought an election with so much as a single EU item in its manifesto, with the sole exception of Maggie Thatcher who campaigned for a rebate. So no, I don’t accept that this body to which the populations of member states have not agreed is representative in any way, shape or form.

    On the matter of accounts, that is very simply answered with two wrongs do not make a right. Corruption in the EU is being uncovered every day, get it sorted, thats my money being used for graft.

    Oh, and suggesting throughout your response above that UKIP is the only voice of anti EU feeling is another silly red herring. I am not, have never been nor ever will be a member or follower of UKIP. There is far more anti EU feeling in the UK than UKIP could ever wish to represent, or the EU could ever wish to contain, unless of course it wants to show its true colours and impose its will by force. Oh, they just have…£150m fine for not flying the EU flag…

  9. Elated

    Capitated lump sum? Means-tested? Will we keep a central behemoth of a register, an EU Domesday book? What about enforcement, are we going to run an EU-wide inland revenue?

    etcetera etcetera

    Moreover,Linking income to certain types of consumption (kerosene) will only internalize the current conflictual relationship with MS… How impartial would we legislate on the airline industry henceforth (seen how ambiguous MS are when it comes to tobacco… excise policies to me look more like monopolists milking markets than policy makers concerned about public health)?

    Let us remain saintly and self-righteous instead so we can a sulk about the fact nobody likes us ;-).

  10. Anthony Zacharzewski, let me take your straw man apart item by item.

    How often do you think we should have referendums to approve membership ? Every year? Every six months? Till you get the result you want?

    Once, just once would be enough satisfy the people that they have had their say as to whether they wish to be part of this policital club. Do not pretend that our original membership was anything to do with political union, it was not.

    Or would it be better to accept that every state has its own democratic government, and that they (or in many cases, such as the UK, referendums) have approved entry, and have the right to withdraw.

    Again, you confuse the original 1975 referendum for joining a trading union with what we have now which is political union and transfer of sovereignty. In 1975 the people were clearly told that this was about food security, a trading partnership for industry, and were further explicitly told that further political moves such as economic and monetary union had been removed.. I quote

    There was a threat to employment in Britain from the movement in the Common Market towards an Economic & Monetary Union. This could have forced us to accept fixed exchange rates for the pound, restricting industrial growth and putting jobs at risk. This threat has been removed
    unquote

    That quote alone implied that Britain would not be part of any political transfer of powers. Remember also that in 1975 there was no internet, that single leaflet from the government was the only source that the people had to garner their information from. So either the leaflet was deceptive in which case a new referendum is needed, or it is outdated, in which case a new referendum is needed.

    As for the Irish vote, well that speaks for itself. Forcing a nation to vote and vote again until the EU gets the answer it wants is about as undemocratic as it comes. But those of us with long memories and an education in History have seen it all before.

    2. European Parliament, elected. Elected national governments in the council of ministers. Even more representativeness would better ? Agree. But it is representative now.

    Perhaps this article will explain just how worthless that so called representation is. Where the Authority and Power lie in very different places, and the power lies with the unelected.
    http://pjcjournal.wordpress.com/2010/02/22/authority-vs-power/
    where laws are made, by the unelected
    http://pjcjournal.wordpress.com/2010/02/22/what-election-candidates-wont-discuss/
    and the real government of Europe, appointed but none are elected.
    http://pjcjournal.wordpress.com/2010/02/09/meet-your-new-government/

    It is also worth noting that not a single UK political party has ever fought an election with so much as a single EU item in its manifesto, with the sole exception of Maggie Thatcher who campaigned for a rebate. So no, I don’t accept that this body to which the populations of member states have not agreed is representative in any way, shape or form.

    On the matter of accounts, that is very simply answered with two wrongs do not make a right. Corruption in the EU is being uncovered every day, get it sorted, thats my money being used for graft.

    Oh, and suggesting throughout your response above that UKIP is the only voice of anti EU feeling is another silly red herring. I am not, have never been nor ever will be a member or follower of UKIP. There is far more anti EU feeling in the UK than UKIP could ever wish to represent, or the EU could ever wish to contain, unless of course it wants to show its true colours and impose its will by force.

  11. Anthony Zacharzewski

    Ian PJ:

    1. How often do you think we should have referendums to approve membership ? Every year? Every six months? Till you get the result you want? Or would it be better to accept that every state has its own democratic government, and that they (or in many cases, such as the UK, referendums) have approved entry, and have the right to withdraw. Or do we need to go through the dreary UKIP talking points about how a referendum in 1975 in some way “doesn’t count” because everyone was under the wrong impression, while the first Ireland no vote magically DOES count, even though the No campaign were spreading obvious and blatant falsehoods?

    2. European Parliament, elected. Elected national governments in the council of ministers. Even more representativeness would better ? Agree. But it is representative now.

    3. On the dreary UKIP talking point about accounts, see: http://www.jonworth.eu/sick-of-eu-doesnt-sign-off-books-therefore-corrupteviluselessnasty-delete-as-applicable/

  12. We only need one, Anthony.

    We know what the result will be and so do you, or rather if you don’t you must have been taking part in a feral federalist experiment and living in a sealed box for the last ten years.

    It’s only a matter of time. You’ve already lost the argument in the UK, you just don’t know it yet.

  13. Pingback: Time to tax « EU Weekly

  14. emilio

    Un saludo desde Euroblog de elpais.com

  15. Let them try, Ian.

    It will be our Philadelphia moment.

  16. If and when the 500m people of the 27 member states approve membership of the EU – maybe.
    If and when the EU becomes representative – maybe
    If and when the EU Commission passes an audit – maybe.

    Until then – NO taxation without representation.

    Unio Europaea Delenda Est (for its own good)

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