Tuesday 30 October 2012

Budget Cuts and the EU

One of the most difficult things I have to deal with at the moment as a Cabinet Member of Cambridgeshire County Council is the annual budget round.  We are dealing with an increase in demand for Adult Social Care, a need to deliver a growth agenda and an ever declining budget.  Whilst I absolutely understand the cause (which I'm afraid is because Labour spent all the money) and the need to do it, it does become increasingly difficult; next year's budget is looking really tough.

That is why I find it frustrating that one of the most bureaucratic and bloated public sector organisations in the world refuses to even acknowledge its own role and responsibility in our difficult financial position, where even David Cameron's bid for a no-growth budget is being met with some resistance.  I talk, of course, about the EU.

Now, I am not one to rebel(!!), but I actually agree with those Conservatives who are arguing that the EU should have a strong cuts agenda - that it should play its own part in the solving the problem that it helped to cause and set an example.  I hope David Cameron listens to their message,  in my view he should be saying to the EU that if they will not cut their budget, Britain will cut its contributions unilaterally (and of course hold an in/out referendum). Of course the EU could start by ending the Strasbourg Circus.

This is not something that is independent of Cambridgeshire; Councils' budgets  are reducing because of reductions in Government funding, if Government have to contribute more to the EU, it means less to fund services in the UK (or indeed to fund tax cuts).


  1. Are you referring to the European Commission with your remark of "the most bureaucratic and bloated public sector organisations in the world"? The European Commission employs only 30,000 staff covering 27 nations, little when compares to the DfT's 18,000 or the Ministry of Defence's 80,000 civilian staff.

    All the countries that were members of the European Economic Community in 1975 pay a smaller share of their GDP in dues to the European Union than they did then, suggesting talk of a ravenous Leviathan in Brussels is overdone. Taxation graph from the Economist: http://iitm.be/EIUtax

  2. Comparisons between the number of employees the EU has and those in departments in the UK are fatuous. We have to have a defence force, we have to have a Department that looks after Highways and Transport. We don't have to have a Pan-European organisation whose decision-making is so far-fetched from the realities of the world as it exists on the ground that it has, largely, ceased to have a useful function.

    30,000 employees (and I suspect that a detailed analysis would show that there are many that are hidden from that figure) is far, far too many for the EU.

  3. If you think that Britain would be better off leaving this "Pan-European organisation" a disagree strongly. Travelling and trading within the EU is safe and easy due to open borders and common standards. But if Britain had a similar status as Switzerland or Norway our company - http://www.cambridgenetwork.co.uk/news/cambridge-business-best-online-photo-printer/ - would have to move out of Britain and into the EU. In preparation for Britain's manufacturing suicide we are producing all products destined for EU-countries on the Continent. I am sure Cadburys (Kraft), Toyota, Nissan, Mini (BMW) et al would reach for the exit in case of a Brexit.

  4. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a Europe of trading Nations. That is what those who are old enough voted for in a referendum.

    In the modern world, businesses will locate in the Country that best suits them. IMHO a UK freed from the bureaucracy of the EU will be a much more competitive place and will attract inward investment.