National governments are now paying the price.
If you want a clear example, consider MEPs' vote this week on the shape and size of the EU's next long-term budget (likely to run between 2014 and 2020). The Lisbon Treaty gave MEPs full co-decision powers over the long-term budget, meaning an effective veto over anything national governments decide.
In the vote this week, MEPs voted 468 against 134 (with 54 abstentions) for the 'big three', defying what many national governments had called for:
- An increase of at least 5% to the EU budget over its 2013 level
- A direct EU tax to fund the EU budget
- A phasing out of all national rebates, including the UK's.
So, how did the UK MEPs vote? The table at the bottom gives a break-down of their votes on key amendments.
From the looks of it, Lib Dem and Labour MEPs voted in favour of an EU tax, while Lib Dem MEPs seem to have voted against an amendment calling for national rebates to be maintained. So if Lib Dem MEPs had their way, both the UK's gross contribution (under the 5% increase) and its net contribution (because the rebate would be scrapped) would increase pretty significantly.
We also note that the Lib Dems stated in their election manifesto for the European elections in 2009 that
"We do not see the need, in the current context, for any significant growth in the budget’s size, nor the abolition of the British rebate."The Lib Dems' voting record this week doesn't suggest that they honoured this pledge - or are we missing something (i.e. was there any other amendment to the same effect that they voted for instead?).
Anyway, check out the table to see how your MEP voted (click to enlarge).