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Mon Nov 26, 2012, 06:02 PM

Europe's €50bn bung that enriches landowners and kills wildlife

Europe's €50bn bung that enriches landowners and kills wildlife
The EU's farm subsidies are a modern equivalent of feudal aid. As Europe suffers under austerity, it's right to call for reform

George Monbiot
The Guardian, Monday 26 November 2012 15.30 EST

There's a neat symmetry in the numbers that helped to sink the European summit. The proposed budget was €50bn higher than the UK government could accept. This is the amount of money that European farmers are given every year. Britain's contentious budget rebate is worth €3.6bn a year: a fraction less than our contribution to Europe's farm subsidies.

Squatting at the heart of last week's summit, poisoning all negotiations, is a vast, wobbling lump of pork fat called the common agricultural policy. The talks collapsed partly because the president of the European council, pressed by François Hollande, proposed inflating the great blob by a further €8bn over six years. I don't often find myself on their side, but the British and Dutch governments were right to say no.

It is a source of perpetual wonder that the people of Europe tolerate this robbery. Farm subsidies are the 21st century equivalent of feudal aid: the taxes medieval vassals were forced to pay their lords for the privilege of being sat upon. The single payment scheme, which accounts for most of the money, is an award for owning land. The more you own, the more you receive.

By astonishing coincidence, the biggest landowners happen to be among the richest people in Europe. Every taxpayer in the EU, including the poorest, subsidises the lords of the land: not once, as we did during the bank bailouts, but in perpetuity. Every household in the UK pays an average of £245 a year to keep millionaires in the style to which they are accustomed. No more regressive form of taxation has been devised on this continent since the old autocracies were overthrown. Never mind French farmers dumping manure in the streets: we should be dumping manure on French farmers.


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Reply Europe's €50bn bung that enriches landowners and kills wildlife (Original post)
Judi Lynn Nov 2012 OP
xchrom Nov 2012 #1
muriel_volestrangler Nov 2012 #2

Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Mon Nov 26, 2012, 06:41 PM

1. A 'bung' - can't really improve on that. Nt

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Response to xchrom (Reply #1)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 04:39 PM

2. Being used to mean a bribe

Possibly from the British slang meaning "to throw" - as in "bung us a few quid and I'll look the other way". But the association with a bung to stop something up is also appropriate.

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