Friday, 26 June 2009

European Conservatives: Prague declaration analysis (Part three)

What does the Prague declaration of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECRG) in the European Parliament tell us about the future policies 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 ECRG has presented ten short principles. The part looked at the preamble. The second part presented the principles from 1 to 5, and this third part contains the remaining principles, one at a time, with subjective comments.



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NATO first

6. The overriding value of the transatlantic security relationship in a revitalised NATO, and support for young democracies across Europe.



Comment

The plethora of common interests between the United States and the European Union – values, trade, foreign, security and defence – are reduced and made subservient to the defence alliance NATO, although the US needs a coherent Europe to deal with in all mutual areas and as an ally in the world. Despite the importance of NATO, the US has more pressing global challenges to think about, and twenty years after the fall of the Soviet Union it has a right to expect that the EU will be able to defend itself in most conceivable situations before long.

The ECRG says nothing about developing the foreign, security and defence policy, or the common defence, of the European Union. The most fundamental challenges for the EU are left unanswered (but the UK Conservatives’ European Election Manifesto was outright hostile towards the timid Lisbon Treaty reforms in the foreign policy area.)

My reading is that it is an error to do anything to keep the UK within the European Union based on its foreign policy influence or military capabilities, as long as Britain is opposed to using them for the common good.

Young democracies need support, from Morocco to Murmansk, but the crux of the matter is how we are going to achieve coherent and cohesive European Union action with regard to the Eastern Partnership, the Union for the Mediterranean or Russia. The sovereign integrity of each EU member state is a recipe for disaster.



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Immigration control

7. Effectively controlled immigration and an end to abuse of asylum procedures



Comment


Improved immigration control and asylum procedures seem to be in line with the EU’s aims under the Hague Programme and the future Stockholm Programme on justice and home affairs (area of freedom, security and justice).

Given the participating parties, it is surprising thing that the European Conservatives mention these policies in a document on the European Union. Great Britain has opted out of the Schengen area of free internal travel and external border control. Under the Lisbon Treaty Britain would opt out of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, and together with Poland from the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights containing the guiding values with regard to individuals.

The ECRG parties are hardly the ones most famous for promoting effective, but fair responses to the common challenges of migration and asylum.



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Public services

8. Efficient and modern public services and sensitivity to the needs of both rural and urban communities.


Comment

Who could oppose such gifted platitudes?

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Waste

9. An end to waste and excessive bureaucracy and a commitment to greater transparency and probity in the EU institutions and use of EU funds.


Comment

Who could oppose such gifted platitudes?



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Equality of member states

10. Respect and equitable treatment for all EU countries, new and old, large and small.



Comment

Who could oppose such gifted platitudes?



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The European Conservatives are potential saboteurs in the evolving foreign, security and defence area. They are hardly credible as European reformers in the area of freedom, security and justice, either.

With almost nothing to give, it remains a mystery why they don’t act forcefully for their countries to withdraw from the European Union.



Ralf Grahn