The Europe for Citizens programme should be curtailed


UK exitToday, the European Union (Approvals) Bill returns to the Commons. It would approve an EU spending programme called Europe for Citizens.

The last Europe for Citizens programme allowed British taxpayers’ money to be given to organisations promoting a federal European State, for that is its purpose:

The aim of this programme is to bring Europe closer to its citizens and to enable them to participate fully in the European construction. Through this programme, citizens have the opportunity to be involved in transnational exchanges and cooperation activities, contributing to developing a sense of belonging to common European ideals and encouraging the process of European integration.

Amendment 4 tabled by my colleague Chris Heaton-Harris provides that:

  • Expenditure under the programme may be used only to fund education about and reflection on the Holocaust, armed conflicts and totalitarian regimes in Europe’s history; and
  • No expenditure under the programme may be used to fund the promotion of European Union citizenship, integration or institutions.

Under the European Union Act 2011, the Government cannot support the proposed Europe for Citizens programme in the Council of Ministers without Parliamentary approval. Unanimity is required in the Council; therefore, the EU would be unable to adopt this programme without UK support. Today’s vote is an opportunity.

Most of us are fond of the continent, nations and peoples of Europe but it’s not acceptable to tax people to fund propaganda in support of a political identity, especially one which does not enjoy democratic endorsement. In previous years the funding went to think tanks which promoted European integration and a federal European state. Examples include the European Movement being awarded £1.48m; Notre Europe, a think tank established by Jacques Delors, which was awarded £1.87m; and the Union of European Federalists being awarded £595,000.

The estimated contribution from the UK is £17.8m out of the total £185.5m for the programme. It’s wrong, it’s £17.8m we can ill-afford and I shall oppose it.

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