A view of the Berlaymont building, headquarters of the European Union Commission (AFP Photo)(34.1Mb)embed videoAs Eurozone leaders lock horns in Brussels over the proposed trillion-euro budget deal, speculation is rife the EU is set to invest millions in a PR campaign against online critics, looking to infiltrate social media sites to silence doubters.”The words ‘legal’ and ‘European Union’ don’t fit together. Nothing matters here, there are no rules” – says the UK Independence Party’s Nigel Farage of the European Parliament’s plan to spend huge sums of taxpayer money on social network smear campaigns against those who speak out against it.Meanwhile, EU leaders gathered in Brussels on Thursday for a two-day summit, where they are attempting to reach a consensus on the nearly €1 trillion budget deal to support agriculture, transportation, research projects and infrastructure in the Eurozone. Already the talks appear to be on shaky ground, with British PM David Cameron – the strongest supporter of budget cuts – threatening to pull out if the figure doesn’t go down, while France’s President Francois Hollande expressed displeasure with Britain’s general relationship with the Union and strongly advocated agricultural spending, on which many southern member-states depend. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has stressed that a deal on the thorny issue remains a long way off.The leaders had already failed to see eye to eye in November, which raises the stakes, seeing as a repeat failure would force the EU to use provisional annual budgets. If no deal is reached during this summit a decision may be stalled until 2015 when the UK is set to hold a critical referendum on EU membership.But whilst leaders in Brussels spar over the budget, the European Parliament has reportedly been busy planning to dish out €2 million to aid an online campaign to skew public opinion in its favor. Allegations that funds may be pumped into defending the EU on social networking sites were original
ly made by British newspaper, The Daily Telegraph. Nigel Farage of the UK’s Independence Party likened the move to madness. He believes this is a sign of fear and the Eurozone’s utter denial of economic and political realities. He expanded on his views in an interview for RT. RT: Some EU officials will be turned into secret agents with a trolling mission on the internet? As a member of the European Parliament, tell us how realistic is this?Nigel Farage: It’s serious. The organization of the European Parliament, which decides how resources are spent, they decided that they’re going to train in-house staff in the run-up to the European elections of 2014…trained them to go online, look at Facebook, Twitter and other social media and to “correct” any misapprehensions that may exist about the European Union. The fact that it’s the Parliament using taxpayers’ money to do this says a lot about EU institutions. The whole point about Parliaments is that the person who sits in the Chair of the Parliament – he’s the Speaker in Westminster; he’s the Chairman in other Parliaments around the world … all other staff is supposed to be neutral; they are not supposed to take any political position at all. And the fact that the EU Parliament has decided it will spend money, time and resources on doing this shows you, frankly, that they are no better than a ‘banana republic’. This is the sort of thing Mugabe would do. I think many people outside will be shocked by it. Having worked there myself for 13 years, I’m not surprised at all. They are really scared that from north to south, from east to west, citizens are saying “We’ve never voted for this thing to become the United States of Europe. We’ve never asked for the majority of our laws to be made somewhere else and we want to do something about it.” So, they are scared and they are fighting back.RT: Moral reprehension aside, is this behavior even legal?Nigel Farage: The words “legal” and “European Union” don’t fit together. Nothing matters here, there are no rules. Do you know the Lisbon Treaty – after the electors ditched the European Constitution? It forbade the bailouts of Eurozone countries, and yet, five Eurozone countries have now received bailouts. What we have here is a fanatical belief that we have to build a European structure, a state with its own army, police force, own treasury – and to hell with what the peoples of Europe think, we’re going to do it anyway. And of course they’ve got a flag, an anthem and they are fanatical – and, I believe, the most dangerous people we’ve seen in Europe in 70 years.RT: But wouldn’t it make more sense to tackle the root problem instead of trying to spend taxpayers’ money, as you mentioned, sit there on social media websites and try to change people’s minds that way?Nigel Farage: You can spend trillions of Euros trying to tackle the root problem. And the problem is, economically, that the Eurozone cannot – and will not – ever work. There’s no point in attempting to do that. This is a misconstruction. The economics are wrong, the politics are wrong. And instead of admitting defeat, what they are going to try and do is sully the name of people like me, who have called into question their legitimacy. And I think that what is going to happen in the next couple of years is that the war of words that takes place within the European Union is going to get very bitter and very nasty indeed.