"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen."

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Belgium's EU Presidency + Update

As Spain bows out Belgium will take over the rotating presidency of the EU on Thursday. Spain's six-month presidency has neither affected nor effected very much at all and that's a good thing in my eyes - the less these faux democratic institutions do, the better.

Belgium, on the other hand, has grand plans befitting a founding member of the EU and NATO. For such a small country, cobbled together in 1830, it certainly punches above its weight and any conspiracy theorist could be forgiven for thinking that its raison d'etre is as a vehicle for those two institutions.

Belgium's 'big idea' is to push harder for cross-border economic government and new taxes to support grand ideological projects.

A government 'source' said:
"...we can also explore, for example, the financing of European projects via new sources of revenue.  Couldn't these new types of income at least in part be channelled towards major European-level projects?"

Similar ideas -- monies funnelled straight into the bloc's collective budget, or at least indirectly by different member states towards common goals -- have long been advanced, with little success, by the European Commission.
It's going to be a rocky six months for our Coalition government; I look forward to hearing Belgium's plans debated in full in our Parliament, on the BBC (primetime news of course) and other media outlets.

I also think it's high time the European Scrutiny Committee was re-formed - it's the only Select Committee still awaiting members and a chairman.
All select committees have ceased to exist unless or until the House renominates them following the election.
Full article

UPDATE: The Telegraph has this now.  "Cameron will back down,"  says senior EU official.
Belgian negotiators are convinced that Mr Cameron's hard line opposition to giving more sovereignty up to the EU, a pledge written into his coalition government's agreement, will be sacrificed in the interests of pragmatism.

The senior source observed that no EU agreements would ever be possible if all European leaders stuck to the "totality" of their election manifestos. "It is impossible to have compromise with total programmes," he said.

EU officials have warned British diplomats that the Lisbon Treaty means it will have to compromise on sovereignty because Britain does not have veto for either the budget scrutiny or financial market supervision measures.

Belgium is also ready to pick a fight with Britain over plans for new European-wide taxes to directly fund the EU independently of contributions from national treasuries.
That sounds like a red rag to a bull.  Cameron's mettle is going to be tested in the coming months - now we'll see what he's made of.


  1. I read that Telegraph article earlier this morning. I think it's the paper getting in a non-story as a warning to DaveNick not to back down.

  2. It's not a non-story, Banned. Belgium is federalist and will push for this - it's the talk of all the eu-friendly papers and we'll be hearing more of it in the months to come.


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