A cacophony of white noise has sadly summed up the EUref thus far, and facts are badly required. So what follows is an attempt to burst some ‘Euro Myths’ that UKIP et al have frenziedly expounded.
1. ‘The EU accounts haven’t been signed off for 20 years’
This is the first, and most outrageous myth. Tory MP for Shipley Philip Davies even raised this myth in parliament as though it were undisputed fact. This myth therefore represents a deep-seated and engrained lie, one that has entered public consciousness as though it were real in lieu that lots believe it to be so.
The reality is the EU court of audits has signed off EU accounts every year since 2007. The latest round of accounts (2015) found the court “signing off the accounts” as they have done every year since 2007.
So let’s please put this myth to be right now. The reality is EU budgets are signed off and audited.
2. ‘The EU budgets are poor value for money and excessive’
This myth, the idea that the EU is some excessive consumer of member-states GDP is laughable. Not least since around 80% of the EU’s budget is actually administered my member-states, not the commission.
Indeed the EU auditors have even called for member-states to have more care on how they spend the money. If anything member-states, not the EU governing bodies, are guilty of the worst excesses.
“In 2014, the court found that €666m (£524m) from the EU fund that is given to countries to finance projects in underdeveloped areas, was “poor value for money”. Poland, for example, built three airports, in Lodz, Rzeszow and Lublin, which have received more than €100m of EU funding, but which have not attracted enough customers to keep them in business.”
This example highlights where excess and poor value for money exists, it honestly can’t be laid at the door of the EU institutions. However, it certainly can be laid at the door of individual member-states.
Indeed in April 2016 the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee called for the UK government to improve how it administers and spend the EU funds available to it. The auditors, in reality, seem to be signing off EU accounts and pointing out the problems rest elsewhere. That elsewhere is an uncomfortable political reality – since it’s our own governments. Much easier for MPs like Philip Davies then to peddle the myth that the problem is thus in Brussels, not at home.
3. ‘EU never detects fraud, it’s a corrupt monolith’
I’ll never cease being amused by this one. When corruption is suspected the case is referred to OLAF, the EUs anti-fraud office.
According to OLAF: “Since its foundation in 1999, OLAF completed 3 500 investigations which resulted in: Over €1.1 billion recovered to the EU budget and
A cumulative of 900 years of prison sentences”
The idea that there is monolithic fraud permeating all levels of bureaucratic life in Brussels is as laughable as it is untrue. The latest figures provided by the Commission reveals that fraud affects 0.2% of the EUs annual spending. A total estimated cost of €248m in 2013. Let’s put this in context, the UK National Audit Office reveals that fraud across the UK government was equivalent to only 0.02% of our nations total expenditure. A total of £306bn.
If like me you think facts are important in our Brexit v Brimain debate, please feel free to read about more here.
The simple truth is, UKIP et al have spent too much time getting away with what are in all sincerity simple lies. Britain deserves a more mature, grown up and factual debate. After all if we do end up voting to withdraw from the EU, please let it not be down to lies, myths and untruths peddled by the likes of the smoking, crackling UKIP clown Mr Farage. A man whose family found Britain welcoming them as Huguenot refugeees, but seems to desire to deny more contemporary families that same life chance.