Shut Up and Pay

by Andrew Stuttaford

Poland’s foreign minister, Radek Sikorski, looks at David Cameron’s referendum proposal, and sniffs.  The Polish Press Agency reports:

[The foreign minister]believes that Cameron has moved his country in the EU hierarchy from a member of the triumvirate composed of Great Britain, Germany and France to a category of “a country under special care” requiring special attention so it does not do something unwise and exit the EU.

Mr. Sikorski appears to believe that, as a result of Cameron’s announcement, the UK should be exiled to the union’s naughty seat, and, as a result, ought no longer to be in the “group wielding power in the EU”.  Poland, on the other hand, will, in due course, be ready to step into the middle of this magic circle.

Sadly, regardless of what the Brits do, to believe that Poland will, in any real sense, be admitted to the “group wielding power” any time soon (or, quite probably, ever) is to fundamentally misunderstand how the EU works–and for whom.

As to the UK’s position for now, it is perhaps worth taking a look at this 2012 chart from the Guardian. All member states pay money into the EU and all receive money from it.  But check the fine print.  The wicked Brits turn out to be the second largest net contributor,  paying a net EUR 5.4bn.  The Poles, on the other hand, are the largest net recipient,  hauling in a net EUR 8.5bn.

For so long as Britain remains in this wretched, dysfunctional union, it has a right to be at the top table. It is, after all, paying quite a big chunk of the bill. A little more recognition of that fact might be in order.

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