• Ray Finch MEP pinned down European Commission Brexit taskforce official Jonathan Faull at a meeting today about the UK referendum on the EU.
Mr. Finch asked "Will the Commission's spending on 'information' rise in the referendum campaign and, if so, will the Commission register with the Electoral Commission?"
Under UK law, all campaigning organisations have to register for money spent in support of a political party or in support of one side in a referendum. The European Commission has made clear its support for the UK remaining an EU member.
Mr. Faull responded that the European Commission "is not a campaigning organisation", despite its support for one side. He also claimed that the Commission has no intention to increase its expenditure on information during the referendum campaign.
Commenting on the meeting, Ray Finch said: "Mr. Faull´s position is markedly different to the experience of the Irish referenda, in which EU-sponsored billboards dominated the campaign. All this was done with taxpayers´ money. Let´s see whether the Commission sticks to Mr. Faull´s promise in the months ahead."
Finch added “The European Commission pours millions each year into UK-based think tanks, NGOs, trade unions and Monnet professorships in the expectation that these organisations will act as its echo chamber and propaganda merchants in the Brexit referendum. Thanks for coming to speak Mr Faull but who do you think you are kidding?”
Head of the European Commission British Referendum taskforce, Jonathan Faull (born Kent 1954) addressed and took questions from the Eurosceptic EFDD Group (mainly UKIP MEPs) today Wednesday, 27th January in the European Parliament.
Business for Britain in Aug 2015 revealed that the EU spent €664 million (£536m) directly on publicity and communication spending in 2014. More widely, the EU committed up to €3.9 billion (£3.1bn) to budgets that contained provisions for EU promotional spending and “corporate communication of the political priorities of the Union”. This isa substantial rise from the €2.4 billion (£1.9bn) that was available to the EU for self-promotion in 2008 when the last independent assessment of the scale of the EU’s ‘propaganda’ spending was made. EU promotional material often does not provide “neutral factual information” and is designed to “communicate the political priorities of the Union“, thus falling into the category of ‘political propaganda’.