European Parliament to increase spending on promoting itself
2012-11-19 0:00


The European Parliament is to increase sharply its spending on promoting itself next year, including a first £9.4 million instalment for a controversial new museum of Europe.

In line for a dramatic increase in cash from MEPsí £1.4 billion budget are a series of projects and other programmes designed to raise the profile of the institution and its internal political groupings, even as EU member states face an unprecedented period of fiscal austerity.

The "House of European History", the first phase of which will open next year, is intended to celebrate the EUís "historical memory" and to "promote awareness of European identity".

The íHouse of European Historyí will be located at the Parc Lťopold in Brussels

But the original plan for the museum, whose eventual cost will be £82 million, to begin with early Greek civilisation were dropped because squabbling MEPs disagreed on every significant historical event of the last 200 years, including key aspects of the Second World War. Instead it will begin with an EU "year zero" of 1946.


Despite irritation among the governments of many member states, national governments including Britain are prevented by a long-standing "gentlemenís agreement" from challenging spending by MEPs Ė which makes up on fifth of total EU spending.

The non-interference pact means MEPs are free to spend their £1.4 billion budget next year Ė which will itself rise by £33 million, or two per cent Ė without any oversight or external control.

The European assembly defends the spending increases. "Increases in seminars or audio-visual are linked to the duty of the institution to allow media and citizens to be fully informed about its political activity and to control it. Transparency cannot be only a nice word," said a spokesman.

But David Cameronís refusal to take on MEPs has angered Conservative backbenchers in Westminster who last month rebelled to inflict a serious defeat on the government over EU budget increases.

"Gentlemen do not make agreements to spend other peopleís money without their consent. This is not the European Parliamentís money. Because millions of pounds more are to be frittered away on euro propaganda, there will next year be less money for local services or tax cuts in Britain," said Douglas Carswell, the Tory MP for Clacton.

MEPs last week hijacked EU budget negotiations by walking out of talks after national governments refused to agree to spending increase of £13.8 billion, including the increases in their own budget.

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