"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."

Monday, 9 August 2010

Here We Go Again

Just a snatched lunch-time post.  Oh boy!  The wonders of the office of the Chief Veterinarian Officer and the local vet are making me pull my hair out in enormous clumps. One says the passports are ready for the official stamp and the other says, oh no they're not, go back and try again.  And do you know how far away bloody Malaga is?  Still, at least it's come to light here and not at Gatwick.  The next step should be easier - that's 'just' quotes from removal firms and the packing should be a doddle compared to the past couple of weeks.

Anyway, I'm not posting to whinge about what I'm doing, I'm posting about this, which is also making me pull my hair out in enormous clumps:

Commission to propose plans for an EU tax in September plus UK rebate under threat
EU Budget Commissioner Janusz Lewandowski* has said he will propose different options for a tax to directly fund the EU budget in September. Possible sources of revenue include a financial transaction tax and a levy on air travel.

Lewandowski is quoted as saying "Many countries want to be unburdened.  In this way, the door has been opened to think about revenues that are not claimed by finance ministers.  If the EU had more of its own revenues, then transfers from national budgets could be reduced.  I hear from several capitals, including important ones like Berlin, that they would like to reduce their contribution."  Lewandowski also questioned the UK rebate, arguing that "the justification for the rebate is much less convincing now than it used to be."

So, that's their answer to grumbles that too much is paid from national coffers into the EU: indirect-direct taxation.  They've surpassed themselves with this one - levy a tax on something else, send it directly to the EU but try not to let people know about it.  Surely, even the EC can grasp that a tax is a tax, no matter what it's called and no matter where it goes.


UK raises most objections to EAWs:
The EU judicial agency Eurojust's annual report shows it was required to intervene in 256 European Arrest Warrant disputes in 2009, up from 237 in 2008.  Many EU countries are openly sceptical about the warrant, with some being "reluctant to surrender their own nationals to other EU member states," according to the report.  There appear to be no such qualms in Britain even though it's the country that most often requests Eurojust's intervention. Where are we going wrong?

EC spends £125 million a year on consultants:
The European Commission is spending an average of £125m a year on consultants, including spending £70k on a questionnaire asking EU officials about their future career plans, £11k on courses about "taking notes and writing minutes" and £44k on an employee survey monitoring the "working environment for Commission staff".

Organised crime infiltrates EU wind industry:
According to the corporate investigations and security group Kroll (and here), the EU's growing wind industry is gradually being penetrated by criminal organisations, some of which are linked to the Italian mafia.  Kroll says: "renewable energy is completely dependent on subsidies, so it is clearly an area for corruption. Wind farms are a profitable way to make money because of the [EU] subsidies, and they are also a great way of laundering it".  Cases of bribery and misappropriation of funds have already been uncovered in the Canary Islands and Corsica.

EU Commissioner: Negotiations on climate change "have gone backwards":
Research conducted by Friends of the Earth Europe argues that EU member states' pledges on carbon emissions may only lead to a reduction of 17% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 - 3% below the proposed threshold of 20%.  EUobserver reports that EU Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard* has said that global negotiations on climate change have "gone backwards". Meanwhile, the European Commissioner for Energy, Günther Oettinger, has announced that he "wants to unify rules on renewable energy in the bloc".

Swiss Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf* has said that joining the EU "would maybe be interesting and possible" if it develops into a looser "Europe of the regions" with a more devolved federal system. "What is clear is that we cannot simply carry on as before." Poor old Switzerland.

Open Europe
EU Observer
Euro Correspondent
Daily Telegraph
EU taxation

It's turned out to be not such a 'snatched' post after all - I might be back later with a bit of music - maybe Cohen or Brel given the mood I'm in after reading all that 'nEUws :-)

* Who they?   Did you vote for them?

UPDATE: Tues 10th:
From the Daily Telegraph with government reaction, Treasury quotes and a photo of Lewandowski.

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