UK PM was ‘playing to national media gallery’ to demand EU budget cut - MEP - La Treizième Étoile: A blog on EU politics
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UK PM was ‘playing to national media gallery’ to demand EU budget cut - MEP

Friday, 8 March 2013
South West Liberal Democrat MEP Sir Graham Watson says the UK Prime Minister and fellow EU heads of state and governments were playing to their national media galleries last month when they agreed a cut in the seven-year EU budget.

Speaking to EuroParlTV, the TV channel of the European Parliament, Sir Graham explained that “the immediate reaction [to the deal] was one of anger among the leaders of the political groups and among MEPs at the governments setting a budget of €960 billion which means we will not be able to finance some of the programmes they have already agreed. So they’ve not been terribly responsible on this.

It all looks far too much as if our heads of state and government have been playing to the national media galleries – ‘we must cut expenditure at European level’ – rather than looking seriously at what we need to do together if we’re to get our economies moving again.” When reminded that David Cameron had been saying the same things, Sir Graham said “indeed and I don’t agree with him on that. I believe David Cameron was playing to the national media gallery.

Of course there are areas in which savings can be made and need to be made at European level, just as there are in national government, [and] of course at a time when we’ve barely any economic growth we want to keep down the burden on the taxpayer of government at every level. But equally, most taxpayers realise that sometimes if 27 countries come together and invest in something jointly you get far better value for the taxpayer than 27 countries doing the same thing individually,” he added.

Earlier in the interview, Sir Graham said the agreed seven-year EU budget ceiling of €960 billion was not enough but he would not vote against this amount and MEPs should negotiate hard to extract concessions that mean monies can be transferred easily between budget lines.

He added that the Parliament “has to recognise, and I think it is increasingly recognised, that it is the Member states who have the right under the treaties to decide the total of the European Union budget and what they do not have the right to do is decide alone how that money is spent.

He also stated his believe that David Cameron’s referendum pledge is one he will live to regret, his opposition to the use of shale gas as a means to reduce the EU’s energy dependency and his support for introducing quotas to ensure more women are members of company boards of directors.

Click here to watch the video interview in full (start until 9:25).

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