Common Agricultural Policy European Union

Farm Subsidies Must Be Scrapped

I haven’t always been a straight-out for staying in the EU.

I once flirted with the idea of leaving the European Union, up until a couple of years ago, and top of my list of reasons for leaving was the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

40% of the EU budget is spent on farm subsidies – and it used to be more.

Historically there was a good reason for this – food became scarce during and after the Second World War, and this policy was brought in during 1962, partly to ensure a continuous supply of food across the European Community.  It would be no overstatement to suggest that there were severe food shortages across Europe during the 1950’s.

My main problem with it is that it distorts prices of farm goods and adds a layer of difficulty for farmers outside of the European Union to access our market.  Farmers in the European Union are being paid subsidies whilst being uncompetitive compared to farmers in poorer countries, and it is those poorer farmers from poorer countries that suffer.

There is also a slight cost to the consumer of this policy in terms of increased prices for goods and the fact that 40% of the £350m a week that we do not send to the European Union is spent on subsidising farmers.

During the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, there was a period when farmers were struggling to make a profit – partly due to Foot In Mouth disease (a quick hello to Liam Fox).  However many farmers are vastly profitable (not all), and many of them are quite rich.

For some, you could say stinking rich.  The CAP pays £400,000 a year to a farm where a Saudi billionaire breeds racehorses.  The Queen gets her share at over £500,000 a year.  So does the Duke of Westminster, Duke of Northumberland and the Mormons.  The highest earner gained nearly £3m in subsidy.  In total, something like £3bn is spent on farm subsidies in this country every year.

Of course, where you stand on globalisation and free trade will depend on your viewpoint here – but I am a globalist, I encourage further globalisation, and I argue that free trade has brought us economic and technological benefits that have ushered in a golden age of development, from consumer products to life expectancy, not just in this country but across the world – in free trading countries anyway.

To me this is outrageous, that landowners, no matter how rich are getting serious sums from the taxpayer, just for the privilege of owning farm land.

This was the number one horror of the European Union to me and in a sensible debate would have featured much more prior to the referendum.

And with the prominence of French farmers and their historical love of causing chaos, there is little the European Union can do other than slowly taper them down over decades.

Unfortunately, Theresa May’s government has promised to keep the subsidy system in place until, 2020 (though the earliest it could go is 2019 anyway, with Brexit and all).

So if we do leave the European Union, I want to see an end to these distortionary and disgraceful farm subsidies.  If there has to be a system for poor and/or small farmers to receive some subsidy, perhaps in the short term until they become profitable, that is fine.  And I agree with continuing the portion of the CAP that is specifically for the protection of wildlife.

But these disgraceful sums of money must not be paid to such rich people going forwards.  This will be a test as to whether Theresa May’s government really is working for everyone.

European Union Freedom Of Movement

Freedom Of Movement

I would like to start by thanking the European Union for making this pro-EU argument so much easier with their £1.7billion bill as our punishment for economic recovery.  Really helpful.
Merci.  Danke.  Gracias.
Thankfully in Dave we have a LEADER – someone who is not afraid to tell the EU where to stick it when it matters – unlike the Labour party who would probably offer to give them our gold reserves too.  Oh wait a minute…they sold the gold at record-low prices. 
The recalculation is so ridiculous that Germany get a rebate and Greece gets a bill.  Yep.
I am vehemently against scrapping or amending any of the founding principles of the European Union.
I do understand concerns over immigration, however I wonder if people actually do really want to lose their freedom of movement?
For me, as an individual, this is the most important benefit of being a member of the European Union.  Do we really want to throw this away, as UKIP desire and as Conservative leadership is hinting they are looking at?
It might mean that anyone from Greece or Poland can come here and work, but it also means that we can go work in Spain, Germany or any one of 25 other countries.
The economies of Europe are currently be in favour of the UK, with many poorly performing economies in Europe such as Spain, France, Italy, Ireland, Portugal and Greece, meaning that we are experiencing an influx of workers.
It won’t always be this way.  If we suffer a major recession again in future years, which is not inconceivable with the ballooning government debt that Labour have left us with, do we want to be stuck on our island with no opportunity to go work in another European country because there are some people spoke a foreign language on the same bus as Nigel Farage once allegedly used?
Do we want to throw away our right to sell up and move to the Spanish coast, to eat English fry-ups, drink cheap Carlsberg and become a true suntanned wrinkly in retirement?
Do we want to lose the opportunity for the young among us to go work in Ibiza, selling club tickets and badly-cut drugs whilst living in grotty apartments and having the time of the life?

Might we in future have to apply for a visa every time we wish to go on a stag do to Amsterdam or visit the Coliseum in Rome?

Should we be limited as to how many of us can go on a European holiday every year?
When we have finished fracking in 2050 and a European Union country such as Poland finally decides after no pollution issues in the UK in 35 years of fracking that they will have their own dash for gas – do we not want to be able to pass on our expertise by working in Poland?
What happens if a major disaster strikes the UK – nuclear accident, or poisonous gases from an Icelandic volcano threaten the lives of thousands (it has happened before) – but we cannot emigrate to another European country because we have burnt our bridges?
There is the argument that no restrictions whatsoever would apply to us, even if we left the European Union – but do you really believe that the likes of the French would say “OK, leave, don’t pay £8.6billion to us, but no problems with keeping your freedom of movement”.  Yeah right.  The farmers will probably block all the ports even if the French government does nothing.
There are many benefits of being a member of the European Union – but also many (often socialist) policies that get in the way of it being a really great and universally valued project.  However this fundamental benefit to every single person in the UK should not be thrown away due to the populist rabble-rousing of Nigel Farage.
Interestingly despite the rise of UKIP, a new IPSOS Moripoll shows 56% of UK citizens would vote to stay in the European Union, compared with 36% who would vote to get out.  This is the highest rating since 1991.
We must protect freedom of movement as vehemently as we defend freedom of speech.
(photo stolen from the fantastic General Boles).