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Democrat January-February 2014 (Number 139)

Arthur Smelt says some things are

Beyond Reason

In every walk of life and profession, there are those who conduct themselves in a reasonably humane and creditable manner and there are those who do not, along with the in betweens. Unfortunately positions of power and influence seem to be filled, far too often, by the latter.

Examination of public and private sectors shows the crazy and damaging maneuverings taking place, not only domestically but further afield. UK failures aside, we have the most unbelievable fiascos being perpetrated by the autocratic and incompetent rulers of EU. One area which has been spoken of and criticised many times, is the Strasbourg question.

Although the HQ of the EU government is in Brussels, once a month for one week only the whole European Parliament outfit transfers from Brussels to Strasbourg. This involves the movement of 766 MEPs, 3000 staff and 25 trucks of documents and files, all moved to Strasbourg at an annual cost of £150 million. Business can't start until all the cantines of files have been unloaded, distributed to the appropriate offices and allocated to staff involved. It will then be necessary to start planning for the return trip. A vote by the European Parliament to end this ridiculous nonsense was carried by 483 votes to 141 but has been ignored by what is called its own constitutional committee. One MEP by the name of Ashley Fox is reported to have described this monthly trip as 'an unacceptable waste of public money'. This shows the EU parliament for the sham it is.

Yet another area where taxpayers money is wasted, features a network of offices worldwide in 140 countries at a cost of £140 million a year. Headed by unelected bureaucrat Baroness Ashton the European External Action Service set up in 2010 is expanding at a rapid rate with the aim of supervising EU projects. It employs almost 1500 staff in Brussels and something like 2000 staff in overseas offices. One office was due to shut at the end of 2013 in Vanuatu, a republic comprising a group of islands in the Pacific 10,000 miles away from Brussels where £80 million has been spent since 1984. The reason given for closure was to save money. Why was it ever opened? About 30 top officials in this area of work receive annual salaries of £150,000 before expenses. A further 500 officials receive more than the basic salary of the British Prime Minister.

Fraud is another area where millions of pounds of taxpayers' money disappears. The former European Commission chief accountant, Marta Andreasen is reported as saying: "The system is still rife with fraud. If a government of a member state lost 295 million euros to fraud, I am certain heads would roll".

From a survey carried out last year 60% of people living in Europe have lost trust in the EU. Opposition to EU is on the increase according to a study by the European Commission. A Eurobarometer survey showed almost two thirds of people in Europe are sceptical or anti EU. This figure includes 83% of Cypriots, 80% of Greeks, 75% of Spaniards, 71 % of Portuguese and 68% in the UK. This shows how governments carry out policies against the wishes of the electorate. Attempts are being made in the UK to give the impression that economic recovery has started and EU membership can be re-negotiated. Unless there are drastic changes in political ethics and competence, such pronouncements ring somewhat hollow.