The deal is done: Details of the new Conservative grouping in the European Parliament
Sources in Brussels bring me news that already today an MEP from a ninth country has indicated he wants to join the new European Conservatives and Reformists - Waldemar Tomaszewski, an MEP from Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania.
At 11am the membership of the new grouping which the Conservatives are forming in the European Parliament will be announced. The requisite number of MEPs from the requisite number of countries has been reached and the text of the declaration they are all signing, committing themselves to a "non-federalist future" will also be published at 11am.
Congratulations to all involved in the negotiations, particularly Geoffrey Van Orden MEP and Mark Francois MP, shadow Europe minister.
The group will be called the European Conservatives and Reformists and its membership at the moment will be made up of 55 MEPs from eight countries; however, negotiations are continuing with others who may yet come on board before the new European Parliament formally convenes on July 14th (Now that it has finally happened, those who were previously nervous about leaving existing groups can do so secure in the knowledge that this new group is there as a viable alternative).
The 55 MEPs at the moment are:
- 26 British Conservative MEPs
- 15 Polish MEPs from the Law and Justice Party
- 9 Czech MEPs from the Civic Democratic Party
- 1 MEP from Belgium's Lijst Dedecker - Derk Jan Eppink, a Dutchman who is a former senior European Commission official
- 1 MEP from Finland's Centre Party, Keskusta - Hannu Takkula (who has left the Liberal Group where the rest of his party sits)
- 1 MEP from the Hungarian Democratic Forum - Lajos Bokros, a former finance minister
- 1 MEP from the Latvian National Independence Movement - Roberts Zile, a former finance and transport minister
- 1 MEP from the Dutch Christian Union - Peter van Dalen
They have all signed up to a declaration, originally negotiated in Prague (henceforth to be known as the Prague Declaration), setting out the aims and values of the new grouping, the text of which is as follows:
"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:
1. Free enterprise, free and fair trade and competition, minimal regulation, lower taxation, and small government as the ultimate catalysts for individual freedom and personal and national prosperity.
2. Freedom of the individual, more personal responsibility and greater democratic accountability.
3. Sustainable, clean energy supply with an emphasis on energy security.
4. The importance of the family as the bedrock of society.
5. The sovereign integrity of the nation state, opposition to EU federalism and a renewed respect for true subsidiarity.
6. The overriding value of the transatlantic security relationship in a revitalised NATO, and support for young democracies across Europe.
7. Effectively controlled immigration and an end to abuse of asylum procedures.
8. Efficient and modern public services and sensitivity to the needs of both rural and urban communities.
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.
10. Respect and equitable treatment for all EU countries, new and old, large and small."
On the anouncment of the new group this morning, Shadow Europe Minister Mark Francois said: