I got my postal ballot papers for the Euro Parliament elections on the target date so I am happy. But I feel a rant coming on. Here goes…
Now, I am pro-European. I always have been. The original intent of the project, to bind warring countries together after the War and to make themselves self-sufficient in food, has been enormously successful. We as a country have benefitted from increased access to trading partners and from EU infrastructure projects. Well and good.
However there are two great scandals which have become clear to me in the last few years which must be addressed.
Firstly, the lack of genuine democratic accountability. Three years ago the whole Commission was obliged to resign because the accounts did not add up. The parliament had a role to play in this. This was good. Yet for the last nine years the accounts have not added up! Are the parliament consistently holding the Commission to account? Obviously not. The Commission has free reign. This offends me.
Secondly, the existence of the Common Agricultural Policy. As I said this has been a great success. It has helped Europe get on its feet. But now it exists to subsidise inefficient farms who shouldn’t be in business. As a result we have mountains of food which we have to dump on world markets. The knock on effect is that the grinding poverty of underdeveloped countries is perpetuated. It seems to me that these beleaguered economies are not able to compete in the areas where they might have a chance, even an advantage. Instead, the industrial power of Europe, through the CAP subsidy, is now effectively directed against the agricultural economies of the 3rd world. (I believe American subsidies are just as damaging, though I am open to correction) This deeply offends me.
Can the votes of the ordinary people of Europe make a difference? I am pessimistic. For the EU parliament to call the Commission to account for its corruption is difficult. When MEPs point their fingers accusingly, the Commission will only point back at the MEPs, citing the huge expense accounts as evidence. The MEPs are essentially bribed into inaction.
On the CAP, well frankly national governments of Germany, France will simply not let go of their hold on this. MEPs are powerless.
So, what I want to know is: which party is prepared to tackle these two evils of our time? Unfortunately, the MEPs elected will be unable to do anything themselves. This power will rest with national governments, accountable to national parliaments. So the real Euro debate must be had during national elections. Nevertheless, the Euro elections can give the right signals to the parties and therefore affect policy. Therefore there is some reason, at least, to vote.
So this is what I want to find out: a) the attitude of the parties to the lack of democratic accountability b) their attitude to the CAP.
What think ye?