The cost of our EU membership in terms of our basic membership sub is £14 billion a year. However, the true cost, including the cost of complying with all the red tape, is much higher. Both our contribution to the EU budget and the burden of regulation are going up. One example of the hidden cost is the way EU procurement rules thwart efforts by local councils to get value for money. The Local Government Association is not the most obvious Eurosceptic. Yet even it is becoming exasperated. This is a straw in the wind. The LGA's instinct will have been to schmooze with the EU, not to pick a fight.
"EU rules choking off councils' money saving efforts," is the headline of the LGA press release.
Tortuous EU procurement rules, which are choking off opportunities to save taxpayers' money and promote local growth, are in danger of becoming even more convoluted and costly, council leaders warn today.
The Local Government Association, which has produced a Procurement Pledge which commits local and central government to work more closely on these issues, is concerned that moves are afoot which could make it virtually impossible for councils to give preference to local suppliers, and will force those wishing to pool services with neighbouring local authorities into an unnecessarily lengthy and costly EU-wide tendering process.
The LGA is concerned that instead of addressing the problems inherent in the current system an up-coming revision of procurement regulations is in danger of making them worse. It is calling on the Government to go into battle for the UK and ensure the re-write of the European directives delivers for British council taxpayers.