IN EUROPE - AND RUN BY FEDERALISTS
General Election crisis for William Hague's Conservatives? Will the Europe debate again show "The Unacceptable Face of Conservatism"? Or two faces?
On 21.3.2001 the Times printed a letter from Graham Wood criticising Tory Vice-Chairman Tim Collins MP for threats to the "career development" of Tory candidates who departed from the official party line, including that of not ruling out the Euro after the next Parliament.
On 4.3.2001, at a party rally, Shadow Foreign Secretary Francis Maude MP began his speech by paying tribute to the leaders of the Conservative group in the European Parliament. He praised Edward McMillan-Scott MEP for "real leadership.... spearheading Conservative plans for real reform in Brussels".
Christopher Gill MP's revealing book from 1996, "In Their Own Words", showed up McMillan-Scott as being a keen supporter of the federalist European People's Party (EPP) - the MEP stated that the Tory tie up with the EPP had been "a great success" and that he looked forward to a continuing alliance! No "career advancement" problems, there.
Read the rest of the speech carefully and Maude makes it clear that "...we will make sure that in future Britain is run by Europe less than we are today". Whatever happened to "In Europe but not run by it"? As William Hague was also at the rally and did not sack Maude on the spot for departing from the official line, it just shows there's one law for patriotic Tory candidates who want nothing to do with the EU/Euro, and one for collaborators.
Maude was also wrong in his attack on Labour for the Working Time Directive - which was actually passed in 1996, when John Major was PM, with the EU taking advantage of health & safety powers signed away at Maastricht....... by one Francis Maude!!.
While Tory chiefs like Hague and Maude try to con the party faithful at home they'll somehow "give their country back", it is interesting to see what really goes on abroad.
1. In 1999, the Tories attracted suspicion because of the tie-up between several of their MEPs and the federalist European People's Party (which committed to "the United States of Europe" and regards the single currency as "a necessity").
Indeed the 13th EPP Congress in February 1999 agreed an Action Programme for 1999-2004 in which it favoured an EU Constitution, harmonisation of national criminal laws, prosecution procedures and even penalties.
Far from calling for "real Brussels reform", the EPP called for a "strong" European Commission with a monopoly on introducing legislation; one that would grow into a "genuine executive power". It also made it clear that the (very ambivalent) principle of subsidiarity should not be used to reduce the powers of the Commission.
It also sought the WEU European defence wing of NATO to be brought into the EU, and under a CFSP [common foreign & defence policies] without national vetoes.
The earlier tie-up press release from Conservatives in the European Parliament ("CEP", led by Sir Christopher Prout MEP until his exit in 1994) commented that the group were "fully integrated" with the EPP. Maybe that's why they put out such comments as the CAP being "too successful" and the Common Fisheries Policy catch quotas though being "an annoyance" to British fishermen, should be seen as being in their long-term interest!
(See "At the Heart of Europe" by CEP, also "In Their Own Words", by Christopher Gill MP).
Prout personally commented that his MEPs agreed with the EPP on "nearly all the issues of the day". Career limiting? After he left the European Parliament, Hague made him Shadow Lord Chancellor, with the brief to run Britain's legal system!
2. 1999 saw the Tories make much in public that their June intake of MEPs were batting for the less objectionable EDU (European Democrat Union) rather than the EPP party. The Conservative Party nationally is also a member of EDU and has provided Martin Saunders as Treasurer.
However it was practically concealed from the grass-roots that at Salzburg in 1998, Party Leaders in the EDU committed to the formation of a single organisation for centre-right parties.
Membership data (compiled 28.4.00 but still representative) showed that the EPP consisted of 50 parties, including virtually all Europe's main centre-right parties.
The EDU consisted of 42 parties (26 of them EPP members). Of the remaining 16, only the Conservatives, Gaullist RPR and a Finnish 'observer' are from EU countries. The other 13 are relative lightweights from non-EU countries such as the Faroes, Iceland, Albania, etc. Hardly too surprising to see the EDU abandon its offices and move into the EPP's in Brussels, where it is administered by a joint secretariat. The EPP now also runs the EDU website.
PROMOTING THE MERGER...
3. At Berlin in January 2001, EDU leaders reaffirmed that the single EPP-EDU organisation should be promoted. William Hague is clearly in the group picture and his Berlin speech on enlargement was reported in the national media.
EPP leaders were also in Berlin and agreed to set up 5 EPP-EDU "Joint Working Groups". Group II (Foreign & Security Policy) is co-chaired by Francis Maude MP and Wolfgang Botsch of Germany's CSU and is tasked with the development of Europe's defence identity.
Group I (European Policy) will work on a joint approach to the development of the EU and the 'co-ordination' of EPP-EDU parties internationally. One co-chairman is Wolfgang Schauble of Germany's CDU, whose 1994 'Reflections' policy paper with the CSU referred to national sovereignty as "an empty shell". The other is EPP President, Wilfried Martens.
All the other Joint Working Groups are chaired by EPP federalists.
4. In an interview with EPP News on 22.1.2001, Martens felt that "full" integration was not "yet" possible, but that the Joint Working Groups would pull in a common direction where there was agreement. "Which is", he added, "to many people's surprise, in most policy areas, notably in economic policy".
He felt that working together on campaigning would bring the groups' thinking closer together, while not undermining the policies to which the EPP was committed. (Coincidentally Sir Christopher Prout MEP told The House magazine in 1991 that the more closely the Conservatives worked with the EPP, the more they would recognise similarities between their policies and philosophies).
...AND A COMMON PROGRAMME
5. The EDU website makes it clear that the Joint Working Groups are not a talking shop, but there to produce "joint action", and that delegates (e.g. Maude) go empowered to commit their party to particular joint policies.
It also notes that EDU Party Leaders adopt the policy programmes of the EDU and member parties "develop together their political programmes on domestic, European and international issues....(and)... co-ordinate their foreign policies".
It also makes its objective quite clear "We seek to strengthen and enlarge the EU as the core of the European integration process".
It is therefore a joke to believe that Hague is opposed to "further European integration" except as a sound-bite for home consumption - the EDU Conference reports also called for such gems as:
Hague is fully behind the EDU - "The Conservative Party sees the European Democrat Union as the most important alliance of centre-right parties in Europe. It serves the interests of its member parties".
6. The EDU Party Leaders elected as Chairman Sauli Niinisto of the Finnish National Coalition Party (KOK-FIN) which is also part of the EPP. Not surprisingly their 1999 manifesto called for:
Obviously the right man for the job, but not a whimper about his appointment from Hague.
Niinisto is supported by Vice-Chairmen including Bernhard Vogel (CDU) and Jose Maria Aznar, the Spanish leader, described as a Tony Blair ally.
Research by New Alliance, PO Box 13199, London SW6 6ZU
(May be reproduced so long as the address & website are listed)
See www.conservatives.com for Conservative Party speeches
www.epp-eu.org is the EPP party website
www.eppe.org/eduude/news.htm for EDU Conference news*
www.epp-ed.org/home/en/default.asp for the EPP [Group] Action Programme
www.kokoomus.fi/english/epolicy.php is the KOK-FIN website
"In Their Own Words", Christopher Gill MP, 1996 - ISBN 0 9527916 0 9
"At the Heart of Europe", Conservatives in the European Parliament, 1993 - no ISBN, but contact Conservative Central Office c/o their website
This page updated: 3 April 2001, links updated: 10 June 2006
* EDU link redundant after absorption by the EPP.