I haven’t ever published here before the full text of my legendary Chinese Alarm-Clock email about the then EU Budget negotiations that was leaked in late 2005 by someone senior (in the Treasury?) to the Sunday Times and caused a vast furore in Poland.
It was a spoof speaking note for Prime Minister Tony Blair to use to bludgeon his EU colleagues. Its undoubted humour came from the fact that in many different ways it said what many people in London and elsewhere were quietly thinking but did not want to say out loud.
LOCSEN means ‘locally sensitive’. A security classification studiously ignored by The Leaker.
This text was quoted generously round the world. Sound-bites for all.
Here it is. It still has motive power nearly a decade later…
Sent: 08 December 2005 05:36
To: KDarroch; Nicola.Brewer
Subject: THOSE EU BUDGET TALKS – LET’S END THE MISERY
This Budget thing is already dragging on too long. So here is a draft speech for the Foreign Sec or PM to use next week to bring it to a rapid and successful conclusion:
“OK, partners, here is my Budget final offer (Puts a large naff kiddies alarm clock on the table).
We all know that the hypocrisy and absurdity of this process are passing any reasonable limit.
I am being asked to give more UK taxpayers money to an EU which for years can not produce properly audited accounts. Mon ami Jacques with the support of most of you is nagging me to give the EU more money while the refusing to surrender an inch or even a centimetre on the CAP – a programme which uses inefficient transfers of taxpayers money to bloat rich French landowners and so pump up food prices in Europe, thereby creating poverty in Africa, which we then fail to solve through inefficient but expensive aid programmes. The most stupid, immoral state-subsidised policy in human history, give or take Communism.
As for the new member states, we like you so much that we are proposing in the Budget a huge new transfer of funds to you on a scale which will give your people the greatest boost in 1000 years. I will be attacked by my scary new teenage Tory opposition for building roads and hospitals in Poland and Hungary, rather than in poor areas of the UK. We – unlike most other old EU MS sitting here – have opened our labour markets. HMG have created more jobs for Poles in the past year than the Polish Government.
Yet not one of you nor a single newspaper in any of your capitals has expressed a single word of gratitude or appreciation for the UK position in all this. So much for solidarity.
Shame on you all. Enough is enough.
In a moment I will press the button on this vulgar clock, made cheaply and well in China. It will ring loudly in exactly an hour’s time.
At that point I will ask everyone round the table whether they accept our current offer. Yes, or No.
If anyone says No, we end the meeting. The EU will move on to a complete mess of annual budgets. Basically suits us – we’ll pay less, and the rebate stays 100% intact. My ratings will go up.
However, despite the rudeness and ingratitude of the new member states as expressed here today, we in London do want to help them So if the Budget deal does end in an hour’s time, we will take action alone.
I have here with me a draft press release which says the following:
Following the failure of the EU Budget talks today because most EU member states refused to accept a generous, innovative new budget proposed by HMG, the UK Gov announces that it is going to set aside a good chunk of the money it was prepared effectively to deduct from its rebate under the current proposals, 5 billion pounds, to set up a new Strategic European Development Fund – the Mother of All Know How Funds, but on steroids.
This Fund will be accessible for those of the V4 plus Balts who agree to join its programme – if they all feel too humiliated by our lack of EU
solidarity to join, that’s great – we’ll keep the money for ourselves. If only some of them join, that’s great too- those who do will get
The Fund will cut out all the bollocky EU bureaucracy which comes with the current spending round, which means that for every pound we pay into the EU pot for Structural Funds for new MS about a [make up a suitable percentage] goes in sticky transaction costs, local and Brussels corruption, overhead and other rubbish, and so does not benefit the intended recipients.
The Fund will go for any sensible strategic development idea that comes along, with emphasis on R&D and Innovation, plus reform of the region’s abysmal legal systems, the main Communist – era legacy problem in Europe. But if you want to build some new roads, that’s OK too.
The Fund will be managed according to state of the art transparency and efficiency:
* Internet procurement
* 90% money spent to require matching private sector funds, so as to
encourage new private investment on a vast scale
* top-level auditing
* explicit buy-in by recipient governments to compensate the fund on a
‘triple damages’ basis for any losses proved by independent auditors to be
due to official local corruption, and to prosecute the people concerned
* up-front urgent action by recipient partner governments to set up their
own streamlined procedures and new laws to allow this money to be spent fast
* oversight by independent all-party experts and bankers/business leaders in
each country to ensure scrupulous honesty and agree national priorities
* hard targets set for spending with regular public updates
* hundreds of short-term fellowships to enable the brightest and best from
these countries to see EU best practice in action in the UK
* [Aside: PM Marcinkiewicz: you asked me recently to help with ELT in Polish
schools – spend 100 million of the Fund on this, so that every kid learns
English, plus save money by shutting down French and German language
and so on .
This Fund mean that the UK’s money goes much further, much faster and much more efficiently into the regions concerned than it possibly could under any EU programme.
Five billion pounds spent this way equals far more than 10 billion spent through the EU, by building in good incentives at every level to encourage openness, free enterprise, creativity and honesty.
The Fund will give the UK and British expertise and the English language together a dominant economic, political and intellectual position in the most dynamic region of Europe for decades to come, forcing legal and business reform on a huge scale according to the purest Anglo-Saxon principles.
And it will be incredibly popular in the countries concerned, since it will force the region’s governments sitting shiftily round this table to be far more honest and accountable than they are at the moment.
More! The roaring success of the Fund will set in motion the accelerating downsizing of all EU-level spending and a fundamental rethink of global aid philosophy. UK voters and voters all across the EU will love it because it spends their money well, plus highlights the wastefulness of what the EU is doing at the moment and cuts out completely the blathering European Parliament. Wider public pressure for reforms along UK lines will become irresistible.
Basically, a terrific deal for the UK, for the modern European ideal of well-coordinated light-touch integration, and for the populations of the countries concerned.
End of draft press release.
We nonetheless remain willing to sacrifice all that in the interests of discredited, inefficient, socialistic, EU ‘solidarity’ – if that is what you
really all prefer – to sign up for the latest offer for the Budget which is on the table.
Over to you, mes chers amis!
(Presses button on alarm clock. Silence. Broken only by loud ticking)
I have a suitable alarm clock if that helps.