The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, is in the middle of negotiations with the other member states of the European Union (EU) to try and negotiate terms favourable to the UK, on Welfare, Immigration and Sovereignty issues, that will persuade UK voters to remain in the EU in the promised referendum. One of Cameron promises when re-elected in 2015 was to hold a referendum to vote on whether or not to stay in the EU and it’s a promise he will have to keep.
The EU began as a trade agreement in the aftermath of WWII, to foster co-operation and friendship, through trade, between European countries financially devastated by the war. It has become an engorged, bloated, bloodsucking monolith that is slowly breaking the very unity it was created to strengthen. It can override decisions made by individual governments, it dictates policy and has conjured up the most incredible mass of rules, regulations and red tape ever seen which have been damaging to small businesses, agriculture and, not the least, fisheries; milk lakes, wine lakes, beef mountains, the burden of the costliest 100 regulations to the UK economy is estimated at £33 billion and there are 28 member states.
The European Parliament (EP) budget funds the running of an institution with 751 Members and 24 official working languages. Parliament’s budget is part of the general budget of the European Union, of which it makes up about 1%. EP budget accounts for one fifth of the total administrative expenditure of all EU institutions.
The 2014 EP budget amounts to € 1.756 billion of which 35% is for staff expenses, mainly salaries for the 6,000 officials working in the General Secretariat and in the Political Groups. Moreover, this expenditure covers interpretation costs, the costs of external translation and staff mission expenses.
Because the Parliament is a democratically-elected institution, involved in making laws that are binding in all Member States, an important proportion of its permanent, temporary and freelance staff are working to translate or interpret its proceedings, so that Members and citizens alike can follow them.
About 27% of the 2014 budget is dedicated to MEPs’ expenses, including salaries, costs for travel, offices and the pay of personal assistants.
Expenditure on Parliament’s buildings accounts for 11% of the 2014 budget. It covers rent of buildings, construction, maintenance, security and running costs in the three main places of work – Brussels, Luxembourg and Strasbourg – as well as for its information offices in the 28 Member States.
Information policy and administrative expenditure such as IT and telecommunications account for 21%. Political Group activities account for a further 6% of the budget.
One figure to note here is 1%; the EP budget is € 1.756 billion which means the cost of the EU is approximately €175 billion p.a.
This staggering amount is the cost of a system out of control. Reform is desperately needed but, will Cameron, who has some support from countries such as Denmark and Poland, be able to start the process?
There’s no doubt in most people’s mind that co-operation and trade links between countries are good things; removing barriers and promoting friendship constitute progress. When the UK joined the EU it had excellent trade agreements with countries around the world, a positive vestige of what was once an empire. The 53 Commonwealth countries are united by language, history, culture and their shared values of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. Many of these countries were deeply hurt by what they saw as a betrayal of their ‘common wealth’ status when Britain signed up to the trade agreements in the then called ‘Common Market’ of Europe and it is doubtful that the UK would ever be able to enjoy again, the privileged position among them it once held.
If the UK votes to leave the EU, it will be very much on its own, an extremely tiny fish in a very big ocean of free trade.
The continuation of the EU as it is now, is not viable, it creates many more problems than it solves. The Greek crisis, unemployment crisis, refugee crisis are symptoms of a system that has outgrown its original purpose and become a monster. European economic stagnation and the discontent felt by the general populace, means it must reform. David Cameron has a very big fight on his hands and it’s one he, for the sake of the UK and other member states, cannot afford to lose.
Writer: Kay Saxon
The writer is a UK based columnist working with THE PASHTUN TIMES. She is graduated from the University of Central Lancashire, North of England. She can be reached at
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED WITH THE PASHTUN TIMES