As you will have seen from our coverage earlier in the week, the UK version of the report hit the press on Monday. The report has been published in six languages with partner organisations from Germany, France, Italy, Sweden and Slovakia. The coalition brings together taxpayer groups and free market think tanks and representatives from each organisation attended and spoke at the launch.
The event was hosted and chaired by Timothy Kirkhope MEP, leader of the British Conservatives in the European Parliament. Timothy opened the event by welcoming everyone and introducing his co-speakers, Paulo Casaca MEP, Portuguese Socialist and spokesperson for his group on the Budgetary Control Committee, Matthew Sinclair, Research Director at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, and Markus Ferber MEP, EPP-ED group, member of the Committee on Budgetary Control and Budgets, and part of the EU delegation for relations with Israel.
Matthew spoke first, outlining the core findings of the report which shows that hundreds of millions of Euros of European taxpayers’ money is still being spent supporting the authorities in the Palestinian territories, who are using their official state media and even school textbooks for hate education and to promote violence. Matthew also pointed out that 42% of Palestinians are under 15 and, if they are being brought up to hate their neighbours and prefer violent confrontation to peaceful coexistence, there is little chance of lasting peace in the region. The TaxPayers’ Alliance and the other members of the coalition are working to raise this issue up the policy agenda both domestically and at the EU level, and Matthew said we plan to build on our successes to date and effect real change when it comes to how and where we distribute aid.
Paulo Casaca MEP then went on to recount his experience in the European Parliament in this area. It had come to his attention that significant amounts of EU money were being funneled towards hate education, not just in Palestine but also in Lebanon and Iraq. He has put a huge number of questions to the Commission over the last few years on the topic, and has received no satisfactory answer. He continues to campaign energetically on the subject and had a few examples of his own where the EU flag had been used on propaganda that incites violence. He eloquently made the point that all Europeans should be deeply concerned about this, commended the report and said that he hoped it would provide new impetus for change.
Markus Ferber briefly explained that, in his experience, it is a lack of transparency and accountability that lead to EU funds being misused. He thanked all the members of the coalition, particularly the European Taxpayers’ Association from his native Germany, for producing a concise and compelling report that would provide the tools for MEPs such as himself to tackle the issue head on.
The debate was then opened up to the floor. There were special contributions from members of the coalition, updating and expanding on the domestic situation in their countries. There were then contributions from attendees of the debate, including MEPs, NATO and NGO representatives and journalists.
The event was extremely well attended, with 70 guests and standing room only. There were over 10 MEPs in attendance, including Charles Tannock MEP, Dr. Ingo Friedrich MEP, Sajjad Karim MEP, Martin Callanan MEP and Jaroslav Zverina MEP among others.
We were absolutely delighted with the event and the reception of the 6 publications. We hope that the coalition have made it clear that with donations come responsibilities, and at the moment both European governments and the EU are not meeting their responsibility to ensure that no more European taxpayers’ money supports poisonous hate education that ultimately prolongs the horrendous conflict in the Middle East, claims lives and robs childhoods.