Thursday, May 09, 2013

EU budget: coming back to haunt us

black rod.jpg

In an exercise of collective self-delusion, the BBC yesterday solemnly filmed Black Rod bashing on the door of the Commons with his stick, after having the door slammed in his face, all to symbolise – as the reporter tells us – that parliament does not take orders from the Queen.

What is never said, of course, is that it does take orders from Brussels so, to complete the ritual, I suppose we ought to have Barroso flinging open the door, cackling inanely, uttering the words, "all mine, it's all mine" – followed by the obligatory "foxtrot oscar" addressed to the Monarch.

But actually, he need not bother, as he can sit at the centre of his web in Brussels and deliver his edicts, only to have our MPs roll over and do his bidding - without so much as a murmur. 

And this time, it is the vexed question of the 2012 EU budget, the controversy over which seems to have been going on for ages and is now coming to a sort of resolution. 

This stems from an agreement yesterday between Barroso, the European parliament (EP) president Martin Schulz and Taoiseach Enda Kenny for the Irish Presidency of the Council, which paves the way for negotiations on the EU's multi-annual budget for 2014-2020, and on the amending budget for 2013. 

The linkage here has been insisted upon by the EP, and the deal now is that the extra €11.2 billion dosh for the 2012 budget will be paid on two tranches, the first of €7.3 billion, which will be submitted to the ECOFIN Council for approval on 14 May. 

If there is a vote (most of these issues are agreed by "consensus"), it will be settled by QMV, which means that Britain will be unable to block this payment on its own. And with only the Netherlands (and possibly Austria) even thinking about siding with the UK, we are likely to be well and truly stuffed. 

And that is only the down payment, as the deal just opens the way for the trilogue on 13 May, to agree the multi-annual budget – the agreement still outstanding, even though Mr Cameron declared victory last February. 

That the media so willingly fell in with the Cameron fiction is now repeated on them, but they are largely dealing with the humiliation by either not reporting it, or failing to remind people that the budget issue was presented as settled by the entire legacy media. The issue is coming back to haunt us. 

Even then, there is much water to pass under the bridge, as the Commission – quite correctly – is saying "nothing is agreed until everything is agreed". Until the 2012 amendment budget is agreed, there is going to be no wrap-up on the multi-annual budget, and vice-versa. 

And in all this, our parliament is merely a bystander. Black Rod can prance about in his pretty lace and stockings, and Dennis Skinner can make silly comments, but the fact is that the real joke is parliament, all dressed up to see the Queen, while our money pours into Brussels and not one of the MPs – nor even the prime minister – can do a thing about it. 

No wonder the BBC doesn't want to fill us in about the true situation. The Black Rod and his stick is so much more entertaining.