As individuals, businesses, and even governments tighten their belts, the Kraken beast that is the European Union continues to feed. With a budget of 141 billion euros in 2010, and evidence that it is struggling to spend all the money it currently has, The European Commission and European Parliament strangely thinks that an EU budget of 1 percent of GDP is 'inadequate'.
Despite this spending challenge and the state of EU economies, the EU is not only failing to cut back but there exists significant demand for a bigger budget. It can only raise this money through greater payments from the member states, or by collecting its own taxes. The latter option is becoming an increasingly plausible threat as many desire the introduction of indirect European taxes, higher contributions from national VAT, excise duties on CO2 emissions and charges on the financial sector amongst many possible revenue streams.
The first point to reiterate is that the needs for these additional funds is highly questionable. Secondly, the potential implementation of additional taxes, without a significant consent from the governed is highly worrying. Thirdly, if the EU acquires this power to raise revenues, then the bureaucratic machine will decide how much to raise. The EU project has already expanded to significantly restrict the liberties of member citizens. The EU has imposed over 70% of the UK’s regulation costs since 1998, impinged upon our sovereignty in an anti democratic manner and has had a share of grand yet damaging schemes such as the Common Agricultural Policy. With the ability to tax, its expansion and the threat to liberty will only increase.
Derk Jan Eppink’s campaign, Say no to EU Tax whose objective is that there be “No introduction of direct EU taxes or increase in national VAT contributions to the EU” and to “Restrict the EU budget to no more than 1 percent of European GNP, for more efficient use of the existing means”, is highly welcome. Paul the octopus with predictive powers might be fashionable, but the Kraken needs repeated harpooning before it grows a new tentacle and sinks the ship.