17 March, 2012
We're doing it for your benefit
Little Nicky Lowles writes,
Last month I reported that the BNP (and some of their fascist friends) had been awarded €289,266 of EU taxpayers' money after they had formed a new alliance within the European Parliament. Since then, HOPE not hate has been working behind the scenes with politicians from across the political spectrum to get the decision reversed and there now appears to be a growing momentum to at the very least relook at the issue.
The context here is that because there are no formal pan-European political parties, the EU Parliament allows groups of like-minded MEPs to form recognized transnational groups which then receive central funding, presumably to help with "administrative" costs. Our friends at HnH believe that only alliances of which they approve should be allowed to form.
HnH bases its challenge on the following,
In article 3 on the conditions for funding (EC 2004/2003), it clearly states that a political party applying for funding: "must observe, in particular in its programme and its activities, the principles on which the European Union is founded, namely the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law."
Now there's a Swiss-army knife of a regulation if ever there was one. With open-ended definitions like that you need a carefully nurtured degree of self-restraint and mutual respect in order to avoid inadvertently getting hurt by unintended consequences. It's just as well, for example, that that nice Tony Blair managed to neuter Clause IV in 1995, because if the original text were still in place, nasty Eurotories could make a plausible claim that the implicit policy of nationalization ran counter to the "fundamental freedom" of private enterprise. Those with more interest in political minutiæ than I could almost certainly find plenty of niggly current examples.
The moral high ground is covered with potholes. Tread carefully.