Why on earth are British taxpayers being forced to fund European Union lobbying for policy campaigns in the United States? Furthermore, why is the EU directly interfering in domestic political debates in America, and so far without Congressional oversight? As the research detailed below demonstrates, the EU’s European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) is spending millions of Euros on US-based campaigns against the death penalty. An extraordinary development.
The EIDHR project list for 2009 (the latest year for which a full itemised list is given), unearthed by my intrepid colleague Sally McNamara, is a real eye-opener. While most of the projects focused on developing countries, several million Euros were actually set aside for projects in the United States, specifically for groups opposed to the death penalty.
This extremely unusual funding for US groups – by a taxpayer-funded foreign entity to advance a political cause – deserves to attract a great deal of public attention, including Congressional scrutiny in Washington and parliamentary scrutiny in London. On Capitol Hill both the House Judiciary Committee and Senate Judiciary Committee, as well as the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, should apply oversight on EU funding for American groups. And this could be just the tip of the iceberg in terms of EU money flowing to US organisations on any number of causes.
Here is a list of US recipients of EU EIDHR aid in 2009, which amounted to €2,624,395 ($3,643,951). The recipients of EU aid include the rather wealthy American Bar Association, whose annual budget approached $150 million in 2008.
American Bar Association Fund for Justice and Education: EU grant: €708,162 ($983, 277)
Project: The Death Penalty Assessments Project: Toward a Nationwide Moratorium on Executions
Death Penalty Information Center: EU grant: €193,443 ($268,585)
Project: Changing the Course of the Death Penalty Debate. A proposal for public opinion research, message development, and communications of capital punishment in the US.
The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty: EU grant: €305,974 ($424,829)
Project: National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty Intensive Assistance Program
Reprieve LBG: EU grant: €526,816 ($731,591) (some of these funds also went to “European countries”) Project: Engaging Europe in the fight for US abolition
Murder Victim’s Families for Human Rights Non-Profit Corporation: EU grant: €495,000 ($686,608) (some of these funds also went to other countries, including Japan and Taiwan). Project: Voices of Victims Against the Death Penalty
Witness to Innocence Protection: EU grant: €395,000 ($548,538)
Project: American DREAM Campaign
MPs reading this should be asking questions why British taxpayers’ money is being used by the European Union to fund campaigns against the death penalty in the United States, without the consent of the British people. (Not least when 51 per cent of the British public support the reintroduction of capital punishment for murder, with just 37 per cent opposing it, in a recent YouGov poll.)
This is also an extraordinary intervention in a highly charged, intensely political domestic debate in the United States over the death penalty, the use of which has been ruled Constitutional by the US Supreme Court on several occasions, and is backed by 64 percent of Americans according to Gallup, with just 29 percent opposing. Can you imagine the outcry in Brussels if the US government funded policy groups in the EU, and the charges of “American imperialism” that would inevitably follow?
It is bad enough that Brussels consistently interferes with the internal affairs of EU member states, but it is surely a bridge too far when it tries to intervene in the affairs of one of the world’s greatest democracies that isn’t even part of the EU. This is hugely insulting to the US. After all the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights is supposedly dedicated to “enhancing respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in countries and regions where they are most at risk.”
Evidently, unelected bureaucrats sitting in the European Commission feel they have a divine right to lecture the United States and its citizens on how they should decide their own policies. This demonstrates a fundamental lack of respect for US national sovereignty, and a sneering condescension towards the American people. But perhaps this should come as no surprise. A supranational entity like the EU that has no respect for the democratic rights of hundreds of millions of Europeans can barely be expected to respect freedom and democracy outside its own borders.