Who's going to pay for Europe?

5 May 2010

Who's going to pay for Europe?

In the Netherlands the elections turn above all on the question of who will pay for the crisis. What we in the SP are committed to is a rejection of economy measures which once again punish people who have the least to spend and even, through for example unemployment, those who have already been the victims of the crisis. It's the rich and the banks who should pay.

Dennis de Jong, Leader of the SP group in the European Parliament

Anger over the cuts has as yet barely penetrated to Brussels, so that daily we continue to see proposals for new funds, such as a recent move to establish a European sports fund, as well as talk about, for example, a poverty fund and a supplementary innovation fund.

The most striking example of this came this week in the European Parliament's temporary committee on the crisis, of which I am a member: a report was presented by a fellow MEP in which were proposed three new taxes: a tax on financial transactions, a tax on bonuses and a tax on CO2 emissions.

In each case a fine idea, but the sting in the tail lies in the fact that these taxes would be imposed not by national governments, but by the European Union. This would mean that Dutch taxpayers would be attacked on two fronts: once by the national revenue service and once by Brussels.

My reaction on the crisis committee was therefore clear: I expressed my approval that my colleague wanted to tackle the rich and the banks, but if you really want to make Europe unpopular, then in times when huge cuts are being imposed, come out with proposals for European taxes.

The SP wants, where possible, to adopt a constructive attitude in Brussels. But let's keep our feet on the ground: the EU institutions must also realise that we are having to tighten our belts. So let's have no more proposals which mean still more money being transferred to Brussels so that it can be paid back to the member states, that merely add to this meaningless pumping back and forth of funds, and instead let's investigate the existing funds and reform them so that only the poorest regions in Europe receive support. And let's stop talking about supplementary European taxes: if we don't, we can be certain that in just over four years nobody will bother to go the polling booth for the European elections.

This article first appeared in Dutch on the website of the radio station TROS's programme 'TROS Kamerbreed' ('TROS across Parliament') on April 16th.

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