Confused European; floods, rebates and solidarity.
A committed European and supporter of the EU I still admit to being confused over varies aspects of the EU. I had intended writing a series of posts, explaining my confusions and hoping for explanations, Like so many of my blog ambitions, I failed to deliver. For your information, you can read the original confused European post, with updates, here.
My confused European status was reawakened by the floods and this post by @jonworth
The EU has a Solidarity Fund for regions within the EU struck by national disasters. Cumbria and areas in Scotland and Lancashire would appear to fit the bill following the flooding. But, like Jon, I have found no record of UK having made a claim against this Fund in previous flooding. Here
So my Confused European question is: why won’t the UK make a claim against the Solidarity Fund when it will benefit the regions hit by floods?
Well of course it is still open for the government to make a claim. Tim Farron of the Lib Dems has apparently urged a claim against the fund though failed to do so when they were part of the government.[I have been told that LibDems had a go but were overruled. Apologises . 23/02/16]
And there was a similar situation when the UK government refused funding available for food banks from the EU Aid to the most Deprived Fund. Here The argument there was that national governments knew better how to spend their money in alleviating poverty- apparently side stepping the fact that national government had the right to say how the money was spent. Here So, I think it is highly unlikely that UK will apply for EU funds to help pay for the devastation caused by the floods. Again, I ask, why?
Ah. The UK rebate. Our hard fought attempt to demonstrate our difference. Our rebate would be at risk if we made a claim…
Hang on though… @jonworth- who knows stuff were as I don’t- tells me that for each £3.00 paid out of the Solidarity Fund we would lose £2.00 of our rebate. Now this I know- that means £1.00 gain. In these days of austerity, surely ever extra £1.00 counts.
So why are the UK government unlikely to claim from the EU funds available? The only answers I can come up with are 1) the idea of the “rebate” is so important to the government as a symbol of our separateness that it will sacrifice the extra money, 2) despite the rhetoric of devolving powers and the Northern powerhouse, the government does not want to give up the rebate (paid to UK government) in return for more money, but paid out to the regions. [3) the government does not want to make it look like the Eu does good things] Suggested by @jonworth and I agree. Even the pro eu lobby in #euref don’t want to trumpet this too loud.
The EU referendum debate needs to include such issues or it will fail us all. And in the meantime, I hope that meps whose constituents are affected will lobby for maximum resources to deal with the floods.