The European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group in the European Parliament joins 54 members, which is well above the needed 25, but only three countries have substantial delegations: the UK Conservatives (25 MEPs), the Polish Law and Justice Party (PiS; 15) and the Czech Civic Democrats (ODS; 9). In addition, there are five solitary MEPs from five member states, which brings the number of countries represented to eight. This leaves the ECR with a slender margin above the minimum of seven countries.
The anti-integrationists have now set things in motion to start working as a political party at European level (Europarty) and to establish a foundation (think tank): Founding of the “Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists (AECR)” asbl/vzw (30 October 2009).
According to the ECR press release, the directorships have been transferred to the following MEP's: Mr. Jan Zahradil (President), Mr. Adam Bielan (Vice-President), and Mr. Dan Hannan (Secretary-General).
In New Europe, Andy Carling reports that the transferral may have been more dramatic than a casual reader of the above press release would suspect: “A Right Wing Coup ─ Tory Euro-skeptics power grab endangers ECR Group and UK Election chances” (25 October 2009).
On Conservative Home, Tim Montgomerie has presented a blueprint for Tory policy, when the Lisbon Treaty is finally ratified by the last member state, the Czech Republic: “The Tories will NOT hold a referendum on Lisbon but seek a 'manifesto mandate' to renegotiate Britain's relationship with the EU” (1 November 2009).
As we are waiting for David Cameron and William Hague to detail their official “we won’t let matters rest there” formula, the news concerning the Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists (AECR) has added to the number of question marks concerning the UK Conservative Party’s policies on Europe.
How far from the mainstream and influence are they poised to move?