17 May 2017

Britain is still paying for EU propaganda

By Joseph Hackett

The UK sends the EU over £13 billion per year – excluding our rebate. Almost two-thirds of this money is never to return to our shores. The EU spends it either on their own institutions, or on projects in other EU countries.

Nor is it spent wisely; Brussels pours millions of Euros into bizarre, pointless schemes.

A report presented to the European Parliament’s Committee on Budgets gave an inclination of how the EU intends to spend European taxpayers’ money in 2018 and 2019. Among the planned expenditures is a stunning €6.18 million (£5.3 million) for furniture. One can only speculate as to what sort of furniture would cost the EU so much over the course of a single year.

Even this sum, however, is dwarfed by the amount the EU intends to spend on a communications campaign which they claim will “explain the purpose of the [European] Union and the [European] Parliament to the citizens’ ahead of European Parliament elections in 2019”. So that’s €33.3 million (£28.6 million) on an EU PR campaign. In total, it will be €25 million (£21.5 million) next year, and another €8.33 million (£7.1 million) in May 2019, all aimed at boosting the European project through these elections.

It’s ludicrous – normal democracies do not pour such vast resources into some sort of PR campaign in the months before an election. Turnout is consistently low in European elections, and it’s getting lower and lower as the EU accrues more and more power, reaching just 42.5 per cent in 2014. In Slovakia, turnout was just 13 per cent.

The reason why so few people vote in European elections is not a lack of exorbitant “explanation” campaigns, nor any desire for “more Europe” – people are simply not interested in European integration.

Not for the first time, the EU is sowing its seeds on stony ground. People will continue to stay away from the polls as long as the European Parliament is controlled by the same, immovable “grand coalition” of strongly pro-EU politicians, and as long as faith continues to plummet in the EU’s ability to deal with its various crises.

Nor will this PR campaign consist of neutral information. A campaign which explains the purpose of EU institutions is hardly going to include any facts which the Eurocrats find inconvenient – especially with the prospect of Eurosceptics making more ground across the bloc in the 2019 elections. It will probably form part of an ongoing stream of taxpayer-funded EU propaganda.

What is particularly scandalous, however, is the fact that British taxpayers will have to contribute towards propaganda for elections in which they will not take part. The UK is set to leave the EU in March 2019 – before these European Parliament elections take place – and EU leaders are determined to ensure the Brexit deal is resolved before these elections take place. Perhaps this is something the Prime Minister can take into consideration when she is discussing the “Brexit bill”.

There is an absurdity to the fact our EU contributions continue until the very moment we leave. So much of what the EU will spend in the next two years will go towards things we will never be around to “enjoy”: propaganda for an election we will be unable to vote in, and furniture we will never get to sit on.

These anomalies are exactly why there must be no delay in making Brexit a reality. We must not be paying contributions for any longer than is necessary. Likewise, we must be sure to leave under terms which end these massive, multi-billion pound annual contributions.

The EU wastes billions of pounds of British taxpayers’ money every year. The Brexit vote has given us the opportunity to take back control of our money. The news of more EU waste and misspending underline why we must honour this key part of the referendum mandate as we get Britain out of the European Union.

Joseph Hackett is a Research Executive at cross-party Eurosceptic campaign Get Britain Out