Molly Scott Cato, MEP for the South West and Green Party finance speaker, has said that EU demands for an extra £1.7bn from the UK towards the EU budget raises serious questions and has written to outgoing EU Commission President, Manuel Barroso, to seek clarification on how the figure was arrived at. [see end note]
Dr Scott Cato said:
“Imposing this demand on the UK retrospectively seems on the face of it quite wrong. To levy a bill based on a new definition of what constitutes the Gross National Income, but apply it to the period 1995-2013, before this new definition was accepted, just can’t be right. I have written to President Barroso, challenging the legitimacy of revising member states’ budget contributions retrospectively using a newly adopted measure of economic activity.”
However, Molly Scott Cato is also keen to highlight how the demand from the EU, based on increased economic activity, highlights the contradiction of UK government policy. She said:
“This demand from the EU for a one-off additional payment from the UK exposes the big lie behind the government’s austerity agenda. It shines a light on the paradox of Tory austerity politics; trying to argue simultaneously that they are responsible for a successful economy, while still claiming to be poor. In principle, the EU has it right: the UK is a rich country and we should share that wealth more fairly within our own country and across the EU.”
Dr Scott Cato has also asked outgoing President Barroso if the figure reached for the UK contribution is based on the new measure of national income that includes informal and illegal sectors, such as illicit drugs and prostitution. She says:
“If this is the case, it is somewhat alarming that the demand for an additional payment, in part at least, is due to a boom in illicit economic activities linked to sex and drugs. If the UK government chose to include these things in an attempt to boost economic performance figures then there is a further irony here.”
Scott Cato concluded: “This whole unfortunate case seems to have come about due to a combination of government ineptitude and too much power residing with a single body – the Commission – staffed by people who never have to concern themselves with justifying anything to citizens.”
The following questions have been raised with outgoing Commission President Manuel Barroso:
European Union budget and the UK’s contribution
The UK government is being told to pay and extra €2.1 billion Euros towards the European Union’s budget by December 1st.
Can I ask the outgoing President of the Commission to clarify three points on this matter?
1) Is the UK budget contribution for this year based on the new measure of GDP for the UK that includes informal and illegal sectors?
2) Does the Commission consider it legitimate to revise Member States’ budget contributions retrospectively using a newly adopted measure of economic activity, has this been done for the UK, and does the revision date back to 2002 or 1995 in the case of the UK?
3) Does the Commission consider it legitimate to include, for the purposes of calculating member states’ contributions, sectors of the economy on which the national government cannot levy taxes since they are either informal or illegal?