http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,59-912590,00.html

What are we to make of a Chancellor who rightly berates red tape and regulation in Brussels but who has hired more British civil servants in just one year, up to April 2003, than the entire staff that the European Commission has managed to accumulate since the 1950s? The Commission numbers 22,453 people, the same size as Surrey County Council. The British Civil Service now has 552,870 staff.

November 29, 2003

Clare Short's EU accusations seen as 'wide of the mark'

From Mr Christopher Huhne, MEP for South East Region (Liberal Democrat)

Sir, Clare Short (Comment, November 26) accuses pro-Europeans of "driving a project that leads inevitably to a superstate, which most of us don't want". This is wide of the mark: my own Liberal group in the European Parliament yields to no one in our pro-Europeanism, but also has a proud track record of opposing successfully measures we believe should not be taken at European level. We are passionate decentralisers, unlike Labour.

What are we to make of a Chancellor who rightly berates red tape and regulation in Brussels but who has hired more British civil servants in just one year, up to April 2003, than the entire staff that the European Commission has managed to accumulate since the 1950s? The Commission numbers 22,453 people, the same size as Surrey County Council. The British Civil Service now has 552,870 staff.

The EU budget is just a fortieth of all government spending in the European Union, and is shrinking as a proportion of the economy, unlike public spending in Britain. We have, over the past decade, been repealing more EU legislation than we have been putting on the statute book.

Ms Short argues that the EU should restrict itself to the single market, but there are other problems that require Europewide solutions: for example, controlling sulphur emissions from power stations to stop acid rain.

The EU is the means by which we may reconcile differences between European peoples and entrench democracy, freedom and the rule of law. Given that we have now lived through the longest period of uninterrupted peace among the members of the EU in recorded European history, these are not small gains.

Yours sincerely,
CHRISTOPHER HUHNE
(Economic spokesman, European Liberal Democrats; Group of the European Liberal, Democrat and Reform Party),
European Parliament,
Rue Wiertz, B-1047 Brussels.
chuhne@europarl.eu.int