Professor Julian Lindley-French
The Americans call it Thanksgiving.Today is the day collected Yankdom commemorates the fact that the lunatics and fanatics we British (and sensible Dutch) had rather sensibly tossed out had survived for a year in a wilderness that was to degenerate into the United States. They were helped by the local native Americans which was probably the greatest error of strategic judgement since (according to Blackadder) “Olaf the Hairy, High Chief of all the Vikings, accidentally ordered 80,000 battle helmets with the horns on the inside”.Today is also EU Budget Day when our Dear Leaders head to Brussels to spend what could be several nights (this summit could be a fabled ‘three-shirter’) disagreeing only for Germany’s Chancellor Merkel, the EU Headmistress, to eventually tell them the correct answer to a question none of them thought they should ask; just how much does European ‘solidarity’cost? On the face of it the seven year 2014-2020 EU budget that they are disagreeing is a huge argument over relatively paltry sums. At €940bn the EU Budget represents just under 1% of the entire EU economy.However, there is an important principle at stake. At a time of real economic pain across the EU when cuts are biting deep everywhere the Omission wants a 5% increase to some 1.05% of EU GDP.The Omission tries to finesse this away by saying much of the money has already been committed to projects and that since 2004 its tasks have grown exponentially. However, that masks the two essential budgetary contradiction: the EU only works if there is economic growth and too few European taxpayers are expected to pay too much for too many.The solution?It is precisely what the Germans are rather sensibly suggesting; a ceiling of 1% EU GDP, cuts and reform to the CAP and more money transferred to infrastructure and regional development funding which benefits Europe’s increasingly urban population.So, to avoid soiled hand-made, taxpayer-funded shirts why not just go to Brussels and listen to Headmistress Merkel? In any case, the real battle will be over European political union which will erupt soon after she is re-elected next September.There may well be fog in the Channel, but it is made far thicker in Brussels by the opaque bureaucracy that the EU is fast becoming.Enjoy your Turkey Yanks and give thanks; you could be an EU citizen!