23 November, 2011

Budget 11: FAIR and SUPERVISED Economic Governance applies to everyone EXCEPT the EU, says the Commission.

The European Commission's new proposed Regulation 2011/0386 for monitoring draft budgetary plans of Member States applies to everyone in the Euro area but not the European Union. For the Commission, the Council of Ministers and the Parliament OPAQUE rules apply.


"Strong public finances are best ensured at the planning stage and gross errors should be identified as early as possible,' the Commission's proposed Regulation tells Member States. What of the EU's own budget? That is secret. The Budget meetings of the Commission with the Parliament are secret. And of course the meetings with the Council are secret. The 'gross errors' as far as the public are concerned are also SECRET. The European Council is extremely secret. The Eurogroup -- an unofficial body -- is hyper-secret.

No journalist was allowed to enter the room of the Parliament as the Commission divulged its proposals for the Multiannual Financial Framework 2013-2020. Why? If the public could, it would point out at this early stage the 'gross errors' in the taxation system that it proposed. Not least is the undemocratic procedure attempting to tax European citizens without proper representation and openness. The Commission wants to change wholesale the method of raising the EU budget? Fine. BUT let it discuss the matter openly. Saying Yes and abstaining from a No to a fait accompli is NOT democracy.

The Commission has the sauce to write in the proposed Regulation Article 5 that 'Member States shall submit annually to the Commission and the Eurogroup a draft budgetary plan .. no later than 15 October. The draft budgetary plan should be made public at the same time.'

It continues: 'Where the Commission identifies particularly serious non-compliance with the budgetary policy obligations laid down in the Stability and Growth Pact, it shall, within two weeks .. request a revised draft budgetary plan from the Member State concerned.' And then it adds sauce to sauce by saying: 'This request will be made public.'

What about the public getting the first view of the European budget as the same time as the ultra-secretive Eurogroup? What about the public asking the Commission to redo the European Budget, conceived secretly in mischief against all principles of equity and democracy? If they do not come to their senses one fine day the European Court of Justice will give them a serious knock on the head: Taxation without proper consultation is illegal.

What right has the Commission to consider any type of taxation without a treaty justification and the full consent of the public? What is clear is that the whole Lisbon/ Constitutional Treaty operation got the resounding No of several countries until Member State politicians STOPPED allowing referendums.

'Members States should benefit not just from the setting of guiding principles and budgetary targets but also from a synchronised monitoring of their budgetary policies,' the Commission tells the Member States. Yet no one is allowed a synchronised look at the EU budget proposals BEFORE it has been politically massaged, manipulated and polished for public relations.

Above all, the Commission wants to stop the public having an opportunity to object and criticise the Commission's 'gross errors'. What if the Member States and taxpayers began to tell the Commission No Taxation without full Representation? They are presently already objecting that the Lisbon Treaty lacks any sort of democratic legitimacy. That is why popular support for the European institutions has sunk to the lowest ebb.

No citizens' groups are marching up and down the streets demanding more taxes. There is no legitimacy for raising new taxes that lack any discussion in the appropriate institutions, for example a fully elected Consultative Committee representing organised civil society.

In the proposed Regulation, the Commission tells Member States that there is 'strong evidence showing the effectiveness of rules-based fiscal frameworks in supporting sound and sustainable fiscal policies.' Fine. Why doesn't the Commission begin to respect the rules and in particular the rule of LAW? Why did it not insist that when it presented the 7-year budget plans it was AT FIRST presented to the public? What motivated the Commission to present it secretly ELSEWHERE? Why did the Commission -- a body composed entirely of political party cardholders -- desire above all to present its plans to its political cronies to get their comments (which where not divulged to the public or the press?) Making the Commission 'political' rather than independent of political parties is contrary to the letter and spirit of the treaties and common sense.

If the European Union has totally undemocratic budgetary methods how does the Commission expect the member State governments to respect the Commission? They will laugh in their face ( in the privacy of the next secret meeting of Member States and the Commission on the European Budget). They will say, 'Come off it comrade, or old pal,' as the case may be. 'You know perfectly well how we shut out the public on the Conciliation Committee on the Budget'. This so-called Conciliation Committee is actually the most important debate on the budget. It combines in a single discussion the political parties in Parliament, the politicians in the Commission and the politicians in the Council of Ministers -- all 27 member States -- have their representative there, sometimes the minister or prime minister. Why should the fireworks show be private?

The Commission will be told: 'We are all politicians together and mainly from the three big parties. Just a wink and a nod is all we need. That is how we always did it in the past.'

When the Commission tries to explain that the markets are making mincemeat out of the euro and its constituent crooked parts, they will have little credibility.

When the Commission quotes the Regulation saying, 'this gradually strengthened surveilance will further complement the existing provisions of the Stability and Growth Pact and strengthen the surveillance of the budgetary discipline in Member States' the other politicians will raise their own question or two.

For example today, we had the spectacle of two Commissioners preaching austerity, self-discipline and this firm economic governance (as they now call it). A few minutes later in the same Commission press room, at the same podium, we had another Commissioner announcing that the Commission was about to increase one programme by a whopping 70 per cent and another by 37 per cent. Wow! Some people thought the Commission was preaching budget restraint!

The European Commission needs to increase its credibility and at a faster rate than 70 per cent per annum.

How should it go about it?

1 It should insist that all its budgetary meetings are OPEN TO THE PUBLIC AND THE PRESS.

2. The Commission should STOP having secret, closed-door, meetings with the Parliament on the Budget.

3. It should INSIST that all other budget meetings including those with the Council and the European Council are OPEN.

4. If the Council refuses, the Commission should take the Council and the European Council to the European Court of Justice and ask for an interpretation of Article 15 of the Lisbon Treaty -- the politicians' treaty.

This states 15 para 1 The Union institutions, bodies, offices, and agencies shall conduct their work as openly as possible.

(para 2) The European Parliament shall meet in public, AS SHALL THE COUNCIL, when considering and voting on a draft legislative act.

The act of primary importance for the Community is the raising and the spending of money from the taxpayer. The Commission must ask the Court: does this mean that taxation by the institutions must be open and that there can be no taxation and spending of a budget without open discussion and consultation?

The right way to deal with budget is to use the FIVE democratic institutions.

The Commission needs to put its own house in order before its starts preaching at the other states, however ruinous their national budgets are and how crooked their politicians.

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