Page last updated at 20:00 GMT, Tuesday, 18 December 2012

European aid for most deprived

The UK government opposes a European Commission proposal for an EU-wide aid scheme for the most deprived people, Employment Minister Mark Hoban has told the Commons.

The Commission has announced plans to set up a new fund to help the most deprived persons in the EU.

It foresees a budget of €2.5bn for the fund over the period 2014-2020. Member states would be responsible for paying 15% of the costs of their national programmes, with the remaining 85% coming from the fund.

Mr Hoban told MPs the government was "unconvinced of the merits or appropriateness" of the plans, as he opened a debate on the matter on 18 December 2012.

He said the Commission had not provided sufficient justification for EU-wide action, arguing that the policy could be sufficiently achieved by member states acting on their own.

As a result, the measure goes against the principle of subsidiarity, which requires decisions to be made at a national level if possible, he argued.

For Labour, Stephen Timms said it was "a bit rich" for the government to argue against EU-wide action on the grounds it could act by itself, when it has "no intention of doing so".

Veteran Conservative MP Bill Cash, who chairs the European Scrutiny Committee, said he was "delighted" the government opposed the draft regulation.

He said the Commission's own impact assessment stated there are a growing number of EU citizens who "perceive the EU as a threat for their personal and collective protection".

The deprived persons fund was an attempt to "create a perception that the European Union is helping them", he argued, branding it an "exercise, in a way, of legitimised propaganda".

MPs agreed, without a vote, the government's motion issuing a "reasoned opinion" to the presidents of the European institutions stating that the draft regulation "does not comply with the principle of subsidiarity".

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