By ANDREW RETTMAN
Belgian Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy, a top candidate for the new European Union president job, laid out his views on future EU financing at a dinner of the secretive Bilderberg group last week.
The event took place at Val Duchesse, a former priory on the outskirts of Brussels, on Thursday (12 November), with guests including Belgian industrialist and Bilderberg chairman Etienne Davignon, former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger and luminaries from the worlds of international politics and business, according to Belgian broadsheet De Tijd.
The Belgian leader is reported to have said in a speech that: “New resources will be necessary for the financing of the welfare state. Green tax instruments are a possibility, but they are ambiguous: This type of tax will eventually be extinguished. But the possibilities of financial levies at European level must be seriously examined and for the first time the large countries in the union are open to that.”
Mr Van Rompuy’s official spokesman later told the Belga news agency that: “The Prime Minister … indicated that it is necessary to carry on thinking about structural financing at the European level.”
The leak to De Tijd, coming just days before the EU aims to choose its first permanent president, could damage Mr Van Rompuy’s chances.
Proposals about imposing fees on environmentally-damaging behaviour or skimming small levies off financial transactions have been mooted before. But the suggestion that the new EU president might interfere in national taxation policy is anathema to anti-federalists in EU countries such as the UK or Denmark.
Mr Van Rompuy’s participation at the Bilderberg dinner will also give ammunition to critics of the EU top job selection process, which takes place via confidential consultations between EU leaders and informal social events.
The Bilderberg group is an elite club of aristocrats, politicians and businessmen dating back to 1954, which likes to meet away from the public eye and which is widely disliked by pro-transparency campaigners.