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By Tim Montgomerie
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It is, of course, the EU itself.

While the EU's great project – the €urozone – imposes terrible austerity on nations like Greece the Brussels empire keeps growing. European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso confirmed he wants an extra €9 billion from member states – an inflation-beating 6.2% increase.

Martin Callanan MEP said the EU was "out of touch with the real world":

"On the one hand the commission is telling governments to slash their deficits whilst on the other it is demanding more taxpayer money for the EU. To ask for an almost seven percent increase is simply out of touch with the real world. The EU budget battle is symbolic of the problems with Europe today. Instead of asking how we spend money better, the commission wants to spend more. Rather than striving for more bang for our buck, the commission continually demands more bucks. The EU budget should focus on those areas where it adds real value such as investment in cross-border capital projects. Far too much EU money is used to supplant revenue programmes that should be funded by national exchequers. We will maintain maximum pressure to ensure the budget reflects the mood across the continent. Businesses, governments and taxpayers are having to live within their means, and the EU should as well."

Over at The Telegraph, Mats Persson draws up a list of savings that the EU could make.

My own top saving recommendation would be the closure of the Strasbourg parliament. It costs €457 million and is unused for 300 days of every year. More from Ashley Fox MEP.

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