The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

European Taxpayers Speak Out

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


When many Americans think of Europe, they conjure up images of slow-moving socialist bureaucracies.  While this type of government may exist in some countries, there is a growing free market and taxpayer movement spreading throughout the continent. 

Since 2003, taxpayer and free market groups have gathered annually to share successes and failures as they strive for fiscal responsibility and government transparency.  The first meeting occurred in a remote town in Bulgaria with fewer than 100 participants.  This year’s meeting was held in Bucharest, Romania, and hosted by The Center for Institutional Analysis and Development, a free market think tank.  There were more than 300 attendees.

The taxpayer movement in Europe includes groups in France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, to name a few.  It may seem odd that a representative of an American taxpayer group would travel 7,000 miles to listen to share his experiences and learn about issues and policies in Europe.  The truth is that taxpayers around the world are frustrated with government waste and want the free market to flourish.

As in previous years, the Bucharest meeting focused on excessive taxation and spending as well as opportunities to discuss achievements.  While some bemoaned their heavy handed-governments, others “bragged” about their flat taxes and private pension systems.  There are countries in Europe that have been bold enough to enact both policies, unlike the U.S.

In addition to the pep rally for lower taxes and less government spending, this year’s meeting was abuzz with the anticipation of the European Court of First Instance’s (CFI) ruling on the Microsoft antitrust case.  Conference participants strategized about possible reactions to the impending decision and potential future actions.  It was clear that the conference participants were concerned that if the CFI upheld the European Commission’s (EC) ruling that Microsoft had abused its dominant position in the software market, intellectual property rights could be under assault throughout Europe.

Immediately after the CFI announced its decision to uphold the EC’s ruling, Citizens Against Government Waste and the British TaxPayers Alliance issued a joint press release condemning the ruling.  The statement sent a clear message that greater cooperation among taxpayer groups across the globe would mean more scrutiny of the EC’s actions.

The Internet is making the world smaller and flatter.  With increased communication and networking by taxpayer groups around the world, governments will hopefully become smaller and less wasteful.

David Williams

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