Mahir Alkaya speaks in the European Parliament on Brexit and the EU budget

20 February 2018

Mahir Alkaya speaks in the European Parliament on Brexit and the EU budget

On Tuesday I was in Brussels for the so-called 'European Parliamentary Week', in order to discuss, with MPs from other member states, the Multi-Annual Financial Framework, or MFF. This is the EU's multi-annual accounts book, and discussion around it has exploded in the wake of Brexit. I was permitted to close the conference with a speech. So what did I say? Well, that when a member state leaves the EU, as the British have decided to do, this doesn't mean that other countries such as the Netherlands should not be expected automatically to pick up the slack created by the loss of the UK contribution. In Brussels they want all member states to help make up the gap. But when you decide to go out with four friends for the evening and everyone contributes €20 to the kitty, the kitty simply gets smaller if someone cries off. Yet the other three don't need to increase their contribution to ensure that everyone can drink just as much as they could before.

This is an unpopular line of argument with the europhiles, but I used it anyway. From an SP standpoint I emphasised two points about the impending EU budget. The first was that every change to the budget - or actually every change full-stop – must be approved by the citizens of the member states. Unfortunately, this is clearly not self-evident in Brussels. There is at the present time scepticism over the efficiency and effectiveness of, for example, the European Social Fund, the Common Agricultural Policy and the Cohesion Fund. We should address that before we set about increasing members states' contributions. This brings me to my second point, that Brexit also offers us an opportunity, a chance to show everyone that the EU does indeed take people seriously; that the subjects which provoke scepticism will be discussed and that these can be turned in a democratic direction; and that we don't after every development automatically get 'more Europe', but that we could build a small and effective European Union alongside each other, with less bureaucracy and without the pumping back and firth of money which characterises the current approach. If we don't see to these things, then the nationalists, who it goes without saying are opposed to any and every form of international cooperation, will be the beneficiaries, with all the consequences that will have. They have been warned.

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