Guy Verhofstadt said the EU should raise its own taxes
By NICK GUTTERIDGE
BRUSSELS should be given the power to raise taxes directly from citizens and companies to foster a sense of loyalty to the bloc, an arch proponent of a European superstate said today
Brexit negotiator and liberal leader Guy Verhofstadt said allowing eurocrats to employ its own continent-wide levies would “create a direct link between the EU and its citizens”.
He claimed most people would not mind coughing up their hard earned wages to Brussels rather than their own countries so long as the payments came to the same amount as before.
During a press conference in Strasbourg this morning the former Belgian PM also called for the EU to assume increased “capabilities on intelligence and investigation” to fight the terror threat.
And he delivered a veiled criticism of Theresa May’s offer on citizens’ rights, saying that it was unacceptable that the proposed new system would treat EU nationals through the prism of the immigration system.
Mr Verhofstadt said the hole in the bloc’s budget that will be created by Brexit provides a perfect opportunity to reform the project’s revenue streams by allowing it to raise direct taxes.
He told reporters: “For this first time we have a paper on the table who is putting the right questions on the reform of the European budget and has no fear to talk about a different funding of the European Union and of the European budget.
“So the paper of the Commission and more especially the proposals of [budget] Commissioner [Gunther] Oettinger take fully on board the idea to transfer the so-called GNI contributions of member states into own resources. Why? Because then you create a direct link.”
He added: “For the citizens it doesn’t make a big difference, it’s exactly the same amount they’ve got to pay – they’ve got to pay it not to the member state but they’re going to pay it directly to the Union.
“But the advantage is that you create a direct link between the European Union and the citizens and that you can also get rid of debates because in such a system rebates are no longer allowed or needed, because the funding comes directly from companies and citizens to the Union.”
The current EU budget is bankrolled almost exclusively by member state contributions, with the rest of the cash coming from fines for breach of its rules. Currently the bloc is not allowed to enter debt, and so can only raise and spend what the 28 European capitals agree to provide it with.
Mr Verhofstadt was also asked about Britain’s proposals to the EU on the future of citizens’ rights, which he said will be addressed in detail by the Parliament’s steering group on Brexit in due course.
But offering a cautious assessment of the plans, he said: “It’s clear that the system that is proposed by the UK side, this settled status they call, it is in fact anew system with less rights incorporated in the migration system in Britain.
“That’s something completely different and the European proposal is a continuation of existing rights not only for the European citizens living in the UK but also for the UK citizens living on the continent.”
Mr Verhofstadt spoke to reporters in Strasbourg just moments after EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and the parliament’s chief Antonio Tajani were involved in a blazing row on the chamber floor.
The liberal leader did not mention the embarrassing incident although his counter-part on the centre-right, EPP boss Manfred Weber, said he had already grilled the pair over what went wrong.
Marx’s Ten Commandments
From the Communist Manifesto here are Marx’s and Engel’s ten commandments:
1. Expropriation of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.
2. A heavy progressive tax.
3. Abolition of the right of inheritance.
4. Confiscation of all the property of all emigrants and rebels.
5. Centralisation of credit in the hands of the State, by means of a national bank with state Capital an exclusive monopoly.
6. Centralisation of transport in the hands of the State.
7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the State; the bringing into cultivation of wastelands and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.
8. Equal liability of all to labour. Establishment of industrial armies especially for agriculture.
9. Combination of Agriculture with industry, promotion of the gradual elimination of the
contradictions between town and countryside.
10. Free education of all children in public schools. Abolition of children’s factory labour in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production etc etc.