Tuesday, 16 February 2016

On Those EU accounts that "haven't been signed off"...

They have. Each and every year.

It's sad that such a central trope from the 'Leave' campaign turns out to be an outright lie, but there you go. I suspect it's because grunting 'KIPpers cannot tell the difference between "material error", around 4.8% (which is lower than the USA's 5% but well over the UK's 1%) and "the auditors not signing off the accounts". But 5% of the money goes missing doesn't make for an easy soundbite, because just 5% going missing sounds like a pretty good job, for a government.

The EU spends its money in places where corruption is rife, and the institutions of Government are weak, like Romania or France, not in places with strong institutions like the UK or Germany. And the European union funds are going into especially corrupt sectors like construction. Perhaps this error rate is understandable. Building roads and airports in Romania is going to help the Romanians, and eventually us. Just as the Marshall plan rebuilt Europe after the Second World War, and gave the USA a rich continent to trade with, rather than a poor continent which needs supporting in a little over a decade, Western Europe should have been MORE generous to the East when the wall came down.

Had Russia been treated after the Cold war like (west) Germany had post 1945, then perhaps Russia would not now be having its tantrum, and  threatening to nuke everybody.

So, the closer you look at the arguments being deployed by the 'Leave' side, the worse they get.

  • The cost? Non-EU Norway pays 90% of our fees per head for access to the single market (which we want, right...?), UK's EU dues are falling.
  • Democracy? The belief the EU rules the UK is overblown fantasy. The UK remains a democracy, in the EU or out. The EU spends 5% or so of UK managed expenditure, and shovels a lot of high-volume, low impact trade law to us much of which we'd implement even if we were out. This really isn't a big deal.
  • We'd be free to trade? I think this is the weakest argument of the lot: The EU's trade deal with India was scuppered by, urm.... the UK, citing immigration concerns. You think we could do better alone? Australia and NZ would welcome us back with open arms? Possibly, but they both see the USA as far more important. The USA is ridiculously protectionist, despite which, the EU might get TTIP through. I doubt the UK could do much better. The EU isn't hampering our trade with the USA or Australia. And in any case, the EU is THE champion of free trade in Global fora, mainly because of British influence.
  • We'd control our borders? Well most of our immigrants currently come from outside the EU (mainly the Indian subcontinent), where we do in fact have control. I doubt much would change here. In any case the immigration of hard-working polish plumbers is less of a problem to most people than 'KIPpers imagine.
  • We don't want to be part of a superstate? And we're not. The Eurozone may become one, but the non-Euro countries will not be part of it. 
I am persuadable. I don't like the EU. C'mon guys, you've been itching for this referendum for 20 years. Is this the best you can do? To what practical problem is 'Leave the EU' a solution? Because I cannot see it. 



9 comments:

Anonymous said...

5% of a big number is still a very big number for most of us for most of us. And if it's a half-truth that the accounts haven't been signed off, then what about the half-truth that 3 million jobs are at stake, whatever figure it is?

And then there's the half-truth that the EU will extract its pound of flesh from us if we do leave, as if BMW, Mercedes, Audi and Volkswagen will see their huge export market disappear. I regularly travel in Europe, and rarely see German built cars of these brands in the numbers that you see in the UK.

The fact is that sooner or later we are having that referendum, and this being a democracy, regardless of one's personal feelings, the majority of people who vote will have what they want, I hope, whichever way it goes. Personally, I'm for Leave, because I think that option has the biggest chance of putting the cat among the pigeons with the political classes, but frankly I don't think it matters one way or the other in real terms.

Luke said...

"I regularly travel in Europe, and rarely see German built cars of these brands in the numbers that you see in the UK."

Not sure what your point is. I guarantee that I will vote against any UK party that tries to deprive me of my right to buy good German cars. I probably won't buy a car when my current Golf conks out, but anyone who tries to stop me doing so will lose my vote.

Devil's Kitchen said...

"The cost? Non-EU Norway pays 90% of our fees per head for access to the single market...

Translating a total fee as a cost per capita is a little disingenuous, is it not? Norway pays far, far less than we do—but it also has far fewer people. No one has ever, to my knowledge, suggested that any membership fees to the EU club are set per capita.

You are right that many of the arguments thus far have been weak, Dude, but this kind of sleight of hand is pretty shoddy too.

DK

Gordon the Fence Post Tortoise said...

The EU audited accounts thing.

So we call the 5% a tip? - or something? The appears to be little in attributing where the trivial 5% goes AWOL.... If I did the same with my UK self assessment - HMRC would no doubt understand and waive it by? Is that 5% Greece?

The "non-dom" tax status of all those rather well remunerated Eurocrats is something that deserves more attention.


Anonymous said...

Could you post a link to the audited EU accounts? Would be interested to see those. I'm surprised you didn't slam-dunk your position with some evidence. Ta.

Anonymous said...

Luke, You made up something I didn't say to use as a straw man. Those quality German car brands are cheap (relatively) in the UK because the Euro holds down the 'DM Euro' against the £, while making the Euro in other countries overvalued. Germans make a lot of export money out of selling them to us. If the EU has a trade embargo against us, as Europhiles predict, then we'll have one against them. We won't have one at all, because Germany will forbid it as it hurts them more than it would hurt us. That was the point.

In EU countries outside Germany, quality German cars are also good value relative to the domestic product (where there is one) because of the same effect of the Euro, but you simply don't see in particular BMW on the roads of France or Italy in the same numbers as you do here. That is because (I think) they buy lots of really small cars, and the German quality makers don't do those competitively. Today's Golf isn't the small car it started out as.

You can buy whatever car you want as far as I'm concerned.

Lotus 51 said...

Dude,
Norway….. Norway has a trade surplus with the EU. Britain has a trade deficit.

Democratic deficit merely "low volume low impact trade law". Agriculture and fisheries are exclusively EU competences. The CAP is the single largest component of the EU budget and is hardly low impact. It is utter lunacy.

Trade… same argument as Norway. Britain has a trade deficit with the EU. It's not in the EU's interest impede trade with Britain.

Borders: Meh, you're right. Brexit won't make any discernible difference to net immigration, might have a very minor affect on benefits bill.

Superstate. Indeed you are right we are not part of an EU Superstate…… yet. However that is the inexorable direction of travel of the EU and we have to get off the bus before it's too late. If we don't get off the bus you can bet the EU and the British political/bureaucratic class will take as a mandate to accelerate the destruction of our sovereignty and liberty.

Simon Jester said...

"I am persuadable."

Dude, please. You're about as persuadable as Ted Heath.

Anonymous said...

5% also represents the contributions of more than 1 country, assuming that all paid the same. There aren't that many net contributors to the UK. Would we be missed? I think so.

There was an error in this gadget