Belgian PM Herman Van Rompuy, and new new EU President, laid out his views on how the EU's budget should be financed in future at a dinner of the secretive Bilderberg group last week. He is reported to have said in a speech that: "New resources will be necessary for the financing of the welfare state. Green tax instruments are a possibility, but they are ambiguous: This type of tax will eventually be extinguished. But the possibilities of financial levies at European level must be seriously examined and for the first time the large countries in the union are open to that."
De Standaard reports that his spokesman is denying that he was asking for an EU 'green tax', saying: "What the PM did say is that one needs to look further and one needs to think about a more structural form of financing at the EU level, for example on financial transactions, as is also being discussed at world level and at the G20". However, the Telegraph reports that Van Rompuy backs proposals for the EU to be directly funded from a ring-fenced set of green taxes such as fuel duty or aviation levies. It could mean all shopping and petrol station receipts in Britain could in future include the amount of VAT or fuel duty that goes directly to Brussels as an "EU tax".
Dutch daily De Tijd notes that the EU is "thinking about establishing a source for partially raising its own means, starting in 2013 when the emissions trading system is extended to other sectors." It adds that, when it reaches its peak, "an extended European emissions trading system would annually provide for €30 or even €60 billion" in taxes.
Meanwhile, the Telegraph reports that Van Rompuy was an architect of the Flemish Christian Democrats' federalist manifesto, which calls for more EU symbols in town halls, schools and sporting events. The manifesto says: "Apart from the euro, also other national symbols need to be replaced by European symbols (licence plates, identity cards, presence of more EU flags, one time EU sports events".
Additionally, following the No votes to the European Constitution in 2005, Van Rompuy gave a speech to the Belgian Parliament, in which he said: "We go on with the ratification of the European Constitution in all our parliaments, but we need to admit that for the moment the project is over. However, this doesn't mean that we cannot continue to work in a creative way in the direction which the Constitution points in. I don't object if we break up the Constitution into smaller parts, as long as we continue to work in the same direction: in the direction of more Europe."
Open Europe's Pieter Cleppe is quoted saying, "Van Rompuy is your typical EU federalist - he isn't going to step on anyone's toes or try to dominate the world like Tony Blair or President Sarkozy might have - but he can be relied upon to quietly make sure that the EU gets more and more powers, with less and less say for voters." Pieter is also quoted by a leader in the paper, which argues: "The manipulation of symbols supported by Mr Van Rompuy offends supporters as well as opponents of Britain's membership of the European Union."