For those who oppose the deepening of the EU state, the idea of that body directly taxing European citizens should be anathema. It would take power from national governments, who are seen to have a mandate from the voters, and give it to the EU, where an essentially unelected and opaque body holds sway. This is what the EU’s Budget Commissioner is proposing, and it is unsurprising that the call has elucidated a storm of protest:
Taxes on aviation, financial transactions and CO2 emission permits are all possibilities, he told the daily Financial Times Deutschland.
However, the UK promptly rejected the idea.
Despite the headline implications though, this could potentially benefit those who wish to see the EU trimmed and focused more on the goal of providing a single market with freedom of movement, goods and services.
The EU state has massively deepened (and expanded) in the last thirty years. It has extended its control into employment, health, law, defence, justice, foreign policy and any other number of areas. When the European Constitution was originally rejected, the EU merely introduced the bits it wanted anyway, changed the name of the rest of it and got it reintroduced. Labour and the Liberal Democrats promised to support a referendum in their manifesto, reneged on the deal, yet were not punished for it electorally. Lacking any mandate from voters, the EU has nonetheless multiplied its power and influence many times over. How? Because the ordinary voter just doesn’t care enough.
The percentage of British laws that come from the EU is estimated to range from around 10-80%. The fact we can’t get a reasonable estimate is damning enough, but for argument’s sake, let’s call it 20%. A body that makes 20% of our laws should be permanently in the public gaze, especially as it can currently overrule UK rulings and law. Yet how often do you see EU policy making headlines on the BBC, or debated on Newsnight? That is not to say that there is some Europhile media conspiracy. The Eurosceptic press concerns themselves with tales of the supposed criminalisation of egg merchants for using incorrect labels. This reduces the EU to the status of a pantomime villain. How many voters who can explain the British political process can explain the EU one?
So why would direct EU taxes be a good idea then? You only have to look at the anger that followed the domestic expenses scandal to see that voters see taxes as ‘their money’ if they think it is being squandered and it has come directly from them. The removed nature of the EU does not create this feeling for most at present. EU taxes should make voters care more about the EU, and pay more attention to how the money is being spent. This hopefully would encourage more media interest in the actual EU apparatus, increasing understanding and thus creating a virtuous circle. There would be more pressure for good governance, something which should please Euro-sceptics and -philes alike.
|Post to del.icio.us|
Filed in: Civil liberties,Current affairs,Economy