Thinking For The Individual

Formerly known as 'Thinking For The People', this site offers some reflections on the state of British society and her people from the perspective of a libertarian Conservative with a passionate belief in the pillars of freedom and responsibility.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Britain's EU Budget Rebate

Tony Blair has told MPs that there is no question of Britain giving up her rebate from the European Union budget, as pressure from the continent mounts for the Prime Minister to be more open to negotiation. It is thought that a compromise might be reached so that the scope of the EU's cripplingly protectionist agricultural subsidies may be cut in exchange for the abolition of the rebate, won by Margaret Thatcher back in 1984 after the UK had been paying well over the odds for too long into the Community budget.

The emotional connection we appear to have in Britain to our rebate is doubtless perpetuated by the tabloid press and by the everpresent feeling that we are always being well and truly screwed by the Europeans (if you pardon my language). But I am willing to be more conciliatory about this issue. We got our rebate when our economy was in a bad state and when it was entirely unfair that Britain should pay as much as it did. But now, thanks to the long-term effects of Thatcher's reforms and the short-term effects of reforms under John Major's government - and NO THANKS to the tax and spend policies of Gordon Brown - our economy is in a better situation. We are now stronger than our EU partners, who are in a state of perpetual decline, for all sorts of reasons. Perhaps on that count we could be willing to negotiate a settlement. Doubtless Blair and his team would spin it and the message would become something like: 'Look how great we're doing: we don't need our cash back from the EU when we're doing so well by ourselves'.

But if the rebate is abolished, then it is right and proper that we should get something in return. The abolition - or at the very least the phasing out - of the subsidies we pay to inefficient farmers, particularly in France would be a great thing. It would tear away a key strand of continental protectionism and would be a significant step in bringing down the poverty of the Third World as it would let farmers sell their products in our markets. It would cut supermarket prices by a third, some estimates suggest, and that is no small measure when you consider the difficulties those earning a pittance for their hard work and those getting by on the state pension have in buying food. The end of the Common Agricultural Policy would be a tremendous achievement, and we should be eager to move towards it if Her Majesty's Government took a leap of political faith and ended our budget rebate.


At 12:25 am, Anonymous Joe Wright said...

I do hope the the British Budgetary Question is not again forced into the pan-channel spotlight, I beleive that Blair should realize that the original facts still stand in place.

It was, I beleive the french, who insisted (and ironically always opposed out entry to the EEC) that we pay more into the continental budgetary fund.
Coincidentally we were paying more than the French at this time anyway, and continued payments as the monetary boom was at its height and destined for fall, therefore there were definately short term factors.
Call it the straw-what-broke-the-camel's-back guv'nor.

However back to my original argument; it was and still is the fact that as a trading nation, not a producing nation (it was under Thatcher that our imports outnumbered our exports) we simply could not afford to keep paying such a high amount, and that trade in Europe will not be sufficient to gain concessions and income. We simply did not and still don't have enough to trade. And we didn't need to! We simply did not use any of trading commissions nor did we involve ourselves in the ERM until Major.

We still can't pay the original price, such a false economy that we have created ourselves, based upon the consumerism of the masses rather than the production of goods and services is still doomed to faliure once inflation catches up with Blair and his cronies. And a renegotiated CAP will not help the country then.

The history student strikes again.

At 12:36 pm, Blogger Serf said...

Where is Ireland in all of this?

They have a net receipt of money from the EU and yet they are richer per head than the UK.

France's farmers take the biggest single chunck of money, without any logic to back it up.

I would agree to a freezing of the rebate, based on a rapid scale back of CAP and redirection of money to the new members, who actually could do with it.


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