LETTER: Consider the EU fiscal cost

IN welcoming Ray Finch, UKIP MEP for the south east, to his meeting in Bognor Regis during September, I would invite readers who are unable to attend to consider that the direct fiscal cost to the UK of its EU membership is only a small part of the economic damage attributable to EU membership.

Far worse, and much larger, are the costs due to excessive regulation, EU protectionism and such follies as the Common Fisheries Policy, as well as the social impacts of immigration on jobs, ‘benefit tourism’, ‘health tourism’ and so on.

Last year the net direct fiscal cost had risen sharply compared with a decade ago.

Roughly speaking, the net cost had been about 0.3 per cent or so of gross domestic product in the early years of the 21st century. But the figure now is 0.7/0.8 per cent of GDP.

Blair’s December 2005 surrender of part of the rebate was part of the explanation for the extra cost but much of the deterioration had in fact occurred under the Conservative/Lib-Dem coalition government. According to the Treasury, net contributions to the EU Budget were £4.bn in 2009, but £10.5bn in 2013.

Shockingly, this huge increase had been almost entirely overlooked in the public debate.

The poor 2013 outcome arose partly from a failure of expenditure control.

In July 2012, the Treasury expected the net cost in the 2012/13 financial year to be £7bn; in November 2013, the figure had climbed to £9.7bn.

The £2.7bn overshoot suggested considerable tension between the Westminster and Brussels bureaucracies, as well as some incompetence in UK officialdom.

The net direct cost of EU membership more than doubled between 2009 and 2013, a period in which practically all other kinds of public spending were being cut or restrained. Cameron and Osborne have been poor managers, and in 2013 allowed the UK net contribution to exceed the planned level by almost £3bn, an appalling failure. 

Graham Jones UKIP

West Sussex County Councillor for Felpham

Manor Way