The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

mailing list
donate now
join now
shop

Freeing Conservative MEPs from the EPP: The strategy that should be at the heart of IDS' European policy

Martin Ball
Robert Oulds

    The EPP wants to establish a federal budget for the EU and the harmonisation of income tax
    The EPP-ED Group welcomes the Charter on Fundamental Rights
    The EPP firmly believes in the principle of acquis communitaire and ever-closer union
    We have already taken a great step forward towards European integration by introducing the Single Currency
    We wish to see the Union develop a consistent and effective common foreign and security policy

And Conservative MEPs are formally tied to this Group!

The philosophical case for Conservative MEPs to break their ties with the European People's Party has been made and won by Eurosceptics. It is not intellectually feasible to argue that Conservative MEPs remain in partnership with this political grouping. The EPP-ED Group is a zealous advocate of Brussels dominance in all areas of law-making and is, by British standards, a socialist party in all but name. Yet, Conservative MEPs remain in bed with Christian Democrats in the European Parliament legitimising the federalist's ambitions for the EU institutions to become the Government of Europe.

The logical outcome of the case for separation hasn't been followed through to its logical conclusion: Bye-bye EPP. So, now is the time for Iain Duncan Smith to do the decent thing and order the Party's elected MEPs to look for pastures knew and sever links with the left-wing and pro-EU Constitution EPP.

If the Conservative Party stays in the EPP it means that IDS has been pushed of that position by Tory federalists

Remarkably a divorce is what IDS wants, he has made up his mind. IDS wrote to the leader of the EPP to tell him so. In a letter to Hans-Gert Pöttering Iain Duncan Smith raised the possibility of the Conservatives in the European Parliament leaving the EPP-ED Group after the 2004 Euro Elections. This will create the option of forming a new grouping with other mainstream Centre-Right political parties, which better reflect the Conservative Party's values. So if the Conservative Party stays in the EPP it means that IDS has been pushed of that position by Tory federalists.

Supporters of the EPP link sometimes claim that it is simply an alliance of convenience, and that the Conservatives are allowed their distinct identity as the "ED" bit of the "EPP-ED Group". But this is precisely what IDS asked for, and was refused. In 2002, he wrote to the leader of the EPP, Hans-Gert Pöttering, to ask that his MEPs be allowed political and operational autonomy. In particular, he asked that they be given control over their own staff and finances (at present, much of the money to which Conservative MEPs are entitled is being spent on their behalf by the EPP on such projects as promoting the Euro-constitution and supporting the Swedish "yes" campaign"); he also demanded that they be allowed to formulate an explicitly non-federalist programme, and asked that other non-federalist Centre-Right parties be allowed to join the ED without an EPP veto.

Mr Pöttering wrote back a curt letter saying that these things were out of the question, since the EPP-ED was a European political party and, as he put it, "not a holding company". Accordingly, Mr Duncan Smith wrote back in December 2002, announcing his intention to leave the group after the 2004 elections.

Mr Duncan Smith wrote back in December 2002, announcing his intention to leave the group after the 2004 elections

Since then, though, nothing has happened. Supporters of the EPP believe that they have succeeded in changing their leader's mind, and that the decision will simply be indefinitely postponed, leaving the Conservatives in the EPP by default. Anti-federalist parties from the continent are understandably beginning to give up on the Conservatives. That is why it is so important that IDS should confirm that his position has not altered.

We need an announcement that we shall indeed be leaving this illogical, and costly, association. It is better for all concerned that the Euro Election campaign is fought with everybody understanding their position post-election. It would be especially popular with Conservative Party activists, who would like to witness their clear support for a Eurosceptic agenda, as in the opposition to the euro, being made a reality.

Our bold declaration of independence will be a catalyst for change in relationship throughout the European Parliament. It will cause others to join us and will attract like-minded Conservatives from new member countries.

The ultimate prize is that it would show that IDS is serious about achieving the great aims of the Prague Declaration. Here he and other Continental EU-sceptics set out their alternative vision for Europe. A New Europe that will be forged via alliances between Britain and other European States that want to throw-off the dead hand of EU Governance. Leaving the EPP and forming a new group in the European Parliament is the best way to build this new alliance. This should be at the heart of Conservative Party thinking.

There is no alternative, EU-sceptics will not be confident that the Party will seize the opportunities for Britain that taking on the EU's federalists will bring until the Conservatives begin building the Europe that IDS set out in his Prague Speech. It must also be considered that following on from a Bruges Group poll a large number of current MEPs are similarly persuaded of the case for separation.

Following on from a Bruges Group poll a large number of current MEPs are similarly persuaded of the case for separation

At the very least the Conservative Party owes it to our EU-sceptic sister parties that have come forward to work with us. They are owed an answer.

Leaving the EPP would be a reward for the loyalty of EU-sceptics, those who have backed him. IDS needs to spell out this roadmap to an unequivocal break from the EPP and then we can forge a New Europe. Why not use next weeks Conservative Party Conference to announce this.

Leaving the EPP would be a reward for the loyalty of EU-sceptics, those who have backed him. IDS needs to spell out this roadmap to an unequivocal break from the EPP...

For more reasons for the Conservative Party to separate from the European People's Party click here