Drinking from the EU gravy boat

The EU seems to be pleasing no one at the moment; but not for want of trying. Indeed, the charm offensive against young and old continues apace with a substantial budget

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David Atherton
On 13 March 2013 16:15

Guy Bentley wrote recently in these pages about ‘sock puppet charities’ – that is, government-funded ‘charities’ that lobby for more government money (read: taxpayer money) to put towards their stated aims. This phenomenon was first brought to my attention by Chris Snowdon, Fellow of the Institute of Economic Affairs, in his outstanding publication: ‘Sock Puppets: How government lobbies itself and why’.

Just this month, Snowdon has brought out another tour de force: ‘Euro Puppets: The European Commission’s Remaking of Civil Society’, this time exploring how ‘sock puppets’ dip their spoon in the EU gravy boat.

The EU seems to be pleasing no one at the moment; but not for want of trying. Indeed, the charm offensive against young and old continues apace with a substantial budget.

Some three years ago now, I was passing through London Victoria station and came across a brightly-coloured stand asking young people whether they were interested in learning a foreign language. At the helm was a German lady, Ms. Judith Schilling, who is ‘School Liaison and Publications Manager’ of the European Commission in London – so more to do with getting on message than being able to count further than un, deux, trois in French. As I put it to her at the time: why am I paying my taxes so the European Union can pay for propaganda, for my subjugation?

See Ms. Schilling here too at an education fair. Not too much to take out of context when she says:

“We offer to the teachers the resources produced by the European Commission in London... We will never succeed in convincing people (of) the value of being a member of the EU if we do not start early enough with the young people, before they form prejudices and [are] misinformed by other sources.”

Well you can’t fault her English, it is infinitely better than my German.

Giving out pencil cases emblazoned with the EU’s logo is evidently just petty cash on the balance sheet.

That’s the whippersnappers sorted; but what about the grownups?

Snowdon has identified think tanks, civil society groups, and charities noted for their pro-EU credentials that have been “handpicked” to lobby for more EU government, larger EU budgets, and EU regulation. As he quotes from the Europe for Citizens’ programme:

“The current ‘Europe for Citizens’ programme (2007-2013)...gives citizens the chance to participate in making Europe more united, to develop a European identity, to foster a sense of ownership of the EU, and to enhance tolerance and mutual understanding.”

He gives the example of Women in Europe for a Common Future which had €1.2 million plus another €135,000 from national governments at their disposal in 2011. Amazingly, 93 percent of its funding comes this way, forcing one to conclude that if it had to stand on its own two feet it could afford little more than a WordPress blog and a few branded lanyards.

But what is more worrying is that the EU’s propaganda budget from 2014 to 2020 will come to €229 million; clearly, Women in Europe for a Common Future has competition. 

That is one big gravy boat.

That is one big gravy boat.

David Atherton is Chairman of Freedom2Choose, which seeks to protect the informed choices of consenting adults on the issues of smoking. Follow him on Twitter: @DaveAtherton20

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