What do we know about the politics of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECRG) in the European Parliament?
The strongest manifestation is the establishment of the new political group, built around the UK Conservative Party of David Cameron and William Hague (26 MEPs), the Polish Law and Justice Party (PiS) of the Kaczynski twins (15 MEPs) and the Czech Civic Democratic Party (ODS) of Mirek Topolanek (formerly Vaclav Klaus) (9 MEPs), with a fluctuating number of individual representatives from other member states.
The Tories and the ODS left the EPP-ED group, the home of the mainstream group of the European People’s Party (EPP) and the sub-group European Democrats (ED). The divorce from the European mainstream is accentuated by the new union with the nationalist and populist PiS on the fringes.
There is not much to go on with regard to policies, but the three main parties have agreed on some common principles, the so called Prague declaration.
Let us look at the declaration and provide some subjective comment on its contents.
The Prague declaration of principles of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group in the European Parliament
Conscious of the urgent need to reform the EU on the basis of Eurorealism, openness, accountability and democracy, in a way that respects the sovereignty of our nations and concentrates on economic recovery, growth and competitiveness, the European Conservatives and Reformists Group shares the following Principles: …
The euphemism Euroskeptic is mainly used by people who oppose European integration and in many cases propose breaking up the European Union, or at least their country’s secession from the EU. Anti-EU and anti-European are preferable terms.
Eurorealism is seen as a softer version of anti-EU action. European integration as a process leading to closer political union is rejected. Dismantling parts of the institutional EU and repatriating some powers to the member states are distinct possibilities. This is the first – and key – auto-definition of the ECRG.
Without using the word, the ECRG defines itself as nationalist, because the Eurorealism, openness, accountability and democracy it mentions as the cornerstones of EU reform are all subject to the respect of the sovereignty of their nations, i.e. the member states.
The political scope of the “reformed” European Union is practically reduced to the economic area: economic recovery, growth and competitiveness.
P.S. The European Citizen has written a thoughtful blog post on the new political group: The European Conservatives and Reformists (24 June 2009).