Sunday, January 04, 2009

Costs Of EU Membership

Building a new mountain

One of BOM's very first posts highlighted the fact that we derive no net economic benefit from EU membership.

Every serious analysis (eg the classic IEA paper by Brian Hindley and Martin Howe) shows the economic costs and benefits are now pretty well a wash. And while we might suffer some disadvantage from being outside the EU tariff wall, world tariffs are much lower than when we joined 35 years ago.

Moreover, as Global Vision argues, we'd almost certainly be able to negotiate withdrawal from the EU's political union while retaining the free trade arrangement (see this blog). We’d thereby escape the budget contributions, the CAP with all those inflated food prices, the social chapter/human rights/eco wibble costs, and of course the Euro.

As it happens today brings some excellent examples of just how those costs bear down on us:

EU Budget costs

You will recall that one of Blair's last great failures was to give away our budget rebate (yet another squandered jewel from the golden Thatcher legacy). When we blogged it here, we reckoned the new arrangements would cost British taxpayers a staggering £100bn over seven years.

But it turns out to be even worse: because the EU budget is denominated in Euros, and because sterling has collapsed against the Euro, yes, that's right - the cost of Tone's failure has rocketed even further.

The Independent reports:

"Sterling's plunge close to parity with the euro has added more than £3bn to the amount the Government must pay to Brussels over the next three years... [the most recent Treasury] figures were calculated at a time when £1 was worth €1.4."

EU eco costs

The arbitrary EU diktat that Britain must cut waste sent to landfill by 50% is now set to cost us even more:

"Taxpayers are facing a multi-million-pound bill to store 100,000 tons of waste paper and cardboard as the British recycling industry plunges into crisis.

Rubbish carefully sorted by householders is piling up in vast warehouses as the market for waste paper collapses, and experts have warned that the mountain of garbage could double in the next three months.

Waste paper is now virtually unsellable, so the private firms contracted to deal with household rubbish have been forced to put it into storage, incurring huge bills. Some companies have begun to claw back the cost from local authorities, prompting fears of hikes in council tax bills."

What is it about the EU and mountains? No sooner does it get on top of its 40 year old butter mountain, it immediately builds a new one from waste paper (pic shows the unwanted waste paper building up at a mill in Essex).

Of course, all these mountains are really made out of money - our money.

EU organ costs

Because of EU rules, transplant organs donated by British citizens to the NHS have to be (effectively) sold to Europeans:

"THE organs of 50 British National Health Service donors have been given to foreign patients who have paid about £75,000 each for private transplant operations in the past two years, freedom of information documents show... It comes as a record 8,000 Britons are on NHS lists waiting for transplant organs...

A spokesman for King’s College hospital said: “We are continuing to treat citizens of the European Union as they have the same entitlement to treatment under the NHS as UK patients under European law.”

For the last 15 years Tyler has carried a donor card in his wallet. Right now, he's thinking of tearing it up, and selling the rights on ebay.

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