Time to quit federalist group

DAVID Cameron is quite right not to be banging on about issues such as Europe all the time. We know where he stands on this. As a conviction Eurosceptic, he occupies what is now the centre ground on the Europe issue - to the left are those that favour ever increasing European integration, to the right those that want to cut our links with Europe.

By Geoffrey Van Orden

DAVID Cameron is quite right not to be banging on about issues such as Europe all the time. We know where he stands on this. As a conviction Eurosceptic, he occupies what is now the centre ground on the Europe issue - to the left are those that favour ever increasing European integration, to the right those that want to cut our links with Europe.

The Conservative vision for Europe is of a community of free-market, sovereign nations, cooperating closely in areas where it is of proven benefit - such as the environment or in relation to public health matters - and strongly Atlanticist in terms of foreign and defence policy. We support enlargement of the EU and NATO. Not only because this extends the area of stability, security and prosperity in Europe but, demonstrably, it also means less deepening. Each new nation that joins the EU is a recruit to the New Europe which rejects the old Franco-Belgian- German model of a protectionist, federal state.

It is for these reasons that I have been so strongly supportive of David Cameron's agenda for change in Europe with his intention to reposition the 27-strong Conservative delegation in the European Parliament. This means breaking the link with the old-guard, German-dominated, European Peoples' Party Group (EPP-ED), and forming a new Group which more accurately reflects our broad political aims.


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With minor exceptions, the national party delegations to the European Parliament belong to multi-national political Groups that should reflect a broad consensus of views within each Group. There are currently seven Groups in the Parliament reflecting a range of views from the Communists on the far Left to the rejectionists on the far Right. The largest political Group is the centrist EPP-ED (264 members) followed by the Socialists (200 members). Neither of these large Groups commands a majority in a Parliament of 732 members.

For some years the British Conservatives have been loosely allied to the EPP. This might seem reasonable as the EPP ostensibly comprises our 'natural' political allies among the Christian Democrat parties across Europe.

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However, the reality is rather different, particularly in regard to the key questions about the future of Europe. The EPP calls itself "the motor of European integration". It is the prime mover behind the European Constitution. It wants an EU army, an EU justice system, an EU "FBI". It wants an end to the British rebate, and to the UK's permanent seat on the UN Security Council. It wants the euro and a Europe-wide tax system. All of this is out of touch and anathema to Conservatives.

As things stand, we do not subscribe to the idea of abandoning the EU. We want to move it in a very different direction. A new political Group will be more than a technical coalition. It will be a mainstream geopolitical alliance that will have real impact and help drive forward the changes which we believe are wanted by most of our citizens.

Geoffrey Van Orden is the Conservative MEP focusing on Essex and Suffolk. He can be contacted at: 88 Rectory Lane, Chelmsford, CM1 1RF or email: gvanorden@europarl.eu.int

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