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Democrat July-August 2011 (Number 124)

Arthur Smelt makes some revelations in

The Political World of Transparancy

The EU is in deep trouble and may well go up in flames

We live in an environment where social, political and economic systems are in serious trouble and unless there are immediate drastic changes, the troubles will get considerably worse. Far too often we find that those who should be setting the example and steering us down the right path, are doing the reverse. Present day events tell their own story.

Gross incompetence and crass disregard of altruistic values can result in society coming apart at the seams. How ironic that troops are being sent to effect regime change elsewhere.

The ethos which enables banking scandals and other intrigues, contributes greatly to our economic and social problems. At the same time billions of pounds are being squandered in the public sector via madcap schemes like the £12.7 billion spent by the NHS on an IT scheme that never came to fruition. £500 million of taxpayers money wasted on a scheme to treat NHS patients in private centres. It has been reported that £217 million was paid for operations that never took place. There are examples in other areas too numerous to mention.

Recently there have been reports about lavish spending by EU Commission President Jose Manuel Borroso's office on private jets, plush hotels and cocktail parties etc. At the same time Europe is in recession and there is a bid for a 4.9% EU budget increase next year.

This lavish spending has been uncovered by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism aided by independent Austrian MEP Martin Ehrenhauser.

Over a 9 month period in 2009 the office of the EU Commission is reported to have run up a bill for 249,000 euros to cover private jets. During the same period Borroso is reported to have attended the UN convention on climate change. However the Commission refused to confirm his mode of transport. Jets such as those hired by the Commission release 55 tonnes of carbon dioxide on each transatlantic flight. Over a 5 year period the EU Commission spent something like 7.5 million euros on private jet trips chartered by EU commissioners, the exact amount expended is thought to be much higher.

The BIJ found public money being used to fund a cocktail party costing 75,000 euros at a science conference in Amsterdam. In one instance Borroso ran up a bill for 24,600 euros during a luxury four day stay in New York for himself and 8 officials. On another occasion a cocktail party was held for TV weathermen from across Europe the cost of which came to 11,638 euros. There were also two cocktail parties to celebrate Europe Day. Reported cost, 9,597 euros. The bureau also found that Borroso and a party of 35 spent 28,000 euros at the Peninsula New York luxury hotel during a visit to the UN climate change convention. A further 20,000 euros was spent on luxury jewellery and the like for VIPs and guest speakers since 2008. This is by no means the full story.

Martin Ehrenhauser MEP said: "It is extremely disappointing to see how easily the Commission spends taxpayers' money on private jet travel and luxury hotels."

Chris Heaton-Harris a former MEP who campaigned against Brussels waste said: "EU commissioners behave like a royal court. There is so much power concentrated in those 27 individuals and they are not directly accountable to anyone. They really do live it up. It is a proper jet-set lifestyle at our expense." So much for EU honour, democracy and transparency.