EU debates yesterday

Yesterday, the Commons debated three important issues relating to the European Union: the 2013 EU Budget increase, reform of the Court of Justice of the EU, and the creation of an EU special representative for human rights.

EU plans to increase its budget by 6.8% would lead to the UK’s contribution increasing by around £810m. Our 2012 contribution is 11.3% of the total EU budget; the proposed 2013 fund would mean the initial cost to UK taxpayers would be around £12.7bn. In net terms our contributions are increasing every year until the next election.

At the time of the Autumn Statement the figures were as follows:

The fact that the EU is suggesting such an increase is completely shameless and out of touch with electors from member states. The Government’s view is that:

A 6.8% increase in EU spending in 2013 is unacceptable…the Commission’s proposals for a larger EU Budget is not the way to fix the EU’s problems…our key objective will be to limit the size of the 2013 EU Budget.

I welcome this stance and will support ways to bring our contribution down.

Turning to human rights, the latest piece of EU mission creep is the creation of a new Special Representative for Human Rights along with their own department. This job was proposed by another expensive post holder, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs, an EU Foreign Minister in all but name.

What is of further concern is that the post would focus on external action: that effectively means they would provide an official EU voice and power in relationships with non-EU nations and international organisations. The EU have assured members that the 800,000 euro cost for the new team would be met within existing budgets so no further contribution is required. However, it begs the questions why is the EU sitting on this money and could it be used elsewhere?

The Government has said: [We] consider that the appointment of an EU Special Representative for human rights would be a welcome move to strengthen the EU’s external capability.

Yesterday, the House did not divide on this issue. I think many of us have realised that our efforts are better spent on the matter of a binding referendum.

The Foreign Secretary, William Hague, yesterday announced a Balance of Competences review of the EU. The Government have produced a command paper on the issue here. Although not a consultation on our membership of the EU, this review will be carried out across all Departments to assess how far EU powers go. “Too far”, though a correct answer for many of us, is not sufficiently detailed for a profound policy decision. I do hope the review is conducted on an honest and transparent basis.

Every day, the European Union takes further steps to nationhood without effective democratic control. I restate my call for a referendum over our membership of the European Union. If you agree we should determine who governs us at the ballot box, please sign the Peoples’ Pledge here.

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