Martin Callanan MEP

5 Jun 2012 06:27:18

Martin Callanan MEP: Europe seems destined to hold jobs summit after jobs summit, growth debate after growth debate, dinner after dinner - but delivering little more than words

Callanan Martin June 2011 2Martin Callanan MEP is Chairman of the European Conservatives. Follow the ECR Group on Twitter.

Jobs and growth has become the new motherhood and apple pie in Brussels. In typical Eurocrat fashion they have already created new words to sum up what we need: growsterity or even growtherity.

They say we need to grow our economies whilst continuing to pay down debts.

It is, of course, something that we Conservatives have no problem accepting. We know that the private sector is the train's locomotive and the state is the carriage. For evidence of this, you only need to read the excellent column by City AM editor Allister Heath last week laying out some of the many studies showing how lower taxes and less public spending lead to greater consumption and investment.

Cutting the size of the state carriage will make that locomotive move faster.

Unfortunately, across the EU, socialist parties are attempting to play a very dangerous and irresponsible game. They are trying to tell the voters that economic growth is possible - just as long as we start to grow the state again using the old policies of borrow, tax and spend. Nowhere is this more prevalent in the UK where Labour has gone far further than even President Hollande, who has accepted that all countries need to live within their means. Labour is now even further to the left of the economic scale than a French socialist who proposed a 75% rate of income tax.

Continue reading "Martin Callanan MEP: Europe seems destined to hold jobs summit after jobs summit, growth debate after growth debate, dinner after dinner - but delivering little more than words" »

11 May 2012 08:19:36

Martin Callanan MEP: Denying the Greek people the chance to leave the Euro is prolonging their heart-breaking misery

CALLANAN MARTINMartin Callanan MEP is Chairman of the European Conservatives.

In last month's column I promised ConHome readers an update following the election results in France and Greece, and the recent developments in the Netherlands. The events of the past weekend were not at all surprising. Governments across Europe have been pounded by the economic crisis with almost every one losing office whenever it goes to the country. The voters have swung in all directions, not just to the left - with many swinging out to the extremes.

The Netherlands

The collapse of the government in the Netherlands was always a distinct possibility. The minority coalition of the Liberal Conservative VVD and the Christian Democrat CDA relied on the votes of Geert Wilders. A few months ago the Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis (CPB) published a new economic and fiscal outlook which predicted the deficit would hover around 4.7 percent for several years - far too high for the EU and likely to be incompatible under the 'European semester'. So the government set about finding between 10 and 18 billion Euros of extra cuts and tax increases. Wilders pulled his support for the government and it fell.

A five party agreement (including the Dutch Christian Union, whose MEP Peter Van Dalen sits in the ECR) has enabled a budget to be passed and an interim administration will tide the country over until the September 12th elections. The Netherlands needs economic reform - of the housing market, health care and the labour market. Wilders' PVV was one of the main roadblocks to achieving such reforms - so ironically his exit from the governmental agreement has created a new political arrangement in the Netherlands that might be able to make some headway. It is unfortunate that the Dutch political discourse has had to be so pre-occupied with meeting the EU's debt targets, rather than putting 100 percent of their energies into achieving growth.

Continue reading "Martin Callanan MEP: Denying the Greek people the chance to leave the Euro is prolonging their heart-breaking misery" »

25 Apr 2012 15:18:53

There's one place in Europe which is a stranger to austerity. Guess where?

By Tim Montgomerie
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It is, of course, the EU itself.

While the EU's great project - the €urozone - imposes terrible austerity on nations like Greece the Brussels empire keeps growing. European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso confirmed he wants an extra €9 billion from member states - an inflation-beating 6.2% increase.

Martin Callanan MEP said the EU was "out of touch with the real world":

"On the one hand the commission is telling governments to slash their deficits whilst on the other it is demanding more taxpayer money for the EU. To ask for an almost seven percent increase is simply out of touch with the real world. The EU budget battle is symbolic of the problems with Europe today. Instead of asking how we spend money better, the commission wants to spend more. Rather than striving for more bang for our buck, the commission continually demands more bucks. The EU budget should focus on those areas where it adds real value such as investment in cross-border capital projects. Far too much EU money is used to supplant revenue programmes that should be funded by national exchequers. We will maintain maximum pressure to ensure the budget reflects the mood across the continent. Businesses, governments and taxpayers are having to live within their means, and the EU should as well."

Over at The Telegraph, Mats Persson draws up a list of savings that the EU could make.

My own top saving recommendation would be the closure of the Strasbourg parliament. It costs €457 million and is unused for 300 days of every year. More from Ashley Fox MEP.

25 Apr 2012 08:27:30

Martin Callanan MEP: Europe has put an expensive sticking plaster on the €urozone but its fundamental weaknesses remain

Martin Callanan MEP is Chairman of the European Conservatives.


Euro meltdown
A month ago the president of the European Central Bank said that the worst of the euro zone crisis was over. Of course, his words were certain to come back to haunt him. It was inevitable that the crisis would return, and return it did - with a vengeance.

This is because, fundamentally, nothing in the euro zone has changed.

We have seen a partial default by Greece, and a flood of cheap ECB money. But all of these are simply very expensive sticking plasters. The fundamental problems still remain.

Against this backdrop, the European Parliament held a debate with European Commission President Barroso on the crisis. Apart from the usual comments that those who want Greece to leave the euro hate Europe, Barroso offered us nothing. I used the opportunity to set out the options available to the euro zone as I saw them: as an observer from a non-euro nation. I said that euro leaders need to make a decision. Either northern states (particularly Germany) accept that they must inexorably allow money to flow from northern Europe to southern Europe; or Greece should be allowed to leave the euro, default, and devalue its way back into the marketplace.

As Germany is understandably not willing to pay, and southern Europe is understandably not willing to hand over more of its economic sovereignty to Berlin and Brussels, it seems that only one option remains. Behind the scenes, this opinion garners a great deal of support. In public, such an acceptance would be seen as heresy against the political project.

You can see my full speech here.

Continue reading "Martin Callanan MEP: Europe has put an expensive sticking plaster on the €urozone but its fundamental weaknesses remain" »

21 Mar 2012 06:00:17

Martin Callanan MEP: Greece's partial default will buy some time, but a second bailout will not be enough to save it

CallananMartin Callanan MEP is Chairman of the European Conservatives.

Crisis. What crisis? Certainly that's the feeling that I have been getting in recent weeks: not just in the European Parliament but around the EU institutions on the whole.

Since my last update, there has been a great deal of movement on the euro zone crisis, all aimed at kicking that now-infamous can a little further down the ever-lengthening road.

Firstly, we saw the European Central Bank pump even more cheap money into European banks under the so-called LTRO. The hope is that banks will then reinvest that money into the bond markets of Italy and Spain, in order to bring their yields down and give some space for economic reform. Some are questioning whether the actions of the ECB are nothing short of quantative easing. I think it is nothing short of a Ponzi scheme, fighting debt with more debt - this time on the ECB's own balance sheet.

Secondly, Greece finally managed to reach agreement with the majority of its private bondholders to take a so-called haircut on their bonds. The bondholders had Hobson's choice: lose some money in a haircut, or lose it all in a default. So, throughout the day, the percentage of bondholders joining the debt swap crept up like an old Blue Peter appeal totaliser. As the Greeks declared victory, I couldn't help but think of Neville Chamberlain at Heston airport declaring 'peace for our time', deluded about what had been achieved and detached from reality.

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1 Mar 2012 12:52:51

Under Martin Callanan's leadership the gap between the Tory grassroots and our MEPs was never narrower

By Tim Montgomerie
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Callanan Martin 470

Martin Callanan has announced that he's standing down as leader of Tory MEPs. This will precipitate a fascinating 14th March election to succeed him - of which more very soon.

Martin is stepping down because he was recently elected as the Chairman of the eight nation European Conservatives and Reformists group - this was the group established after David Cameron took the Conservative Party out of the EPP.

Martin's leadership of the MEPs has been relatively brief but it hasn't been insignificant. He has been outspoken on issues like the impoverishment of Greece by the dangerous at-all-cost efforts to keep the €uro together. He has also pointed out that the EU's climate change policies are very dangerous if they are unilateral. For a long time our delegation at the European Parliament seemed very remote from grassroot Tories. Not today. Martin has closed the gap and his regular diary pieces for ConHome (eg this one) have, I hope, helped increase understanding of what Tory MEPs are doing on Britain's behalf.

Commenting on his decision Martin Callanan said:

"It has been a privilege to serve as Leader of Conservative MEPs for the last 16 months. It has been a tumultuous time for the EU and a fascinating time to lead the delegation. I am proud of the successes that Conservative MEPs are achieving and the hard work that we put in to defend the national interest. I would love to stay on but my commitment as the newly-elected chairman of our wider European grouping requires my full-time dedication. It was an enormous privilege to have been elected leader of the ECR last December. Our new movement is well established in Brussels and Strasbourg and I now intend to devote all of my time towards expanding its numbers, raising its profile, and positioning it as the only serious political force in Europe that delivers a common sense approach. The Conservative Party can be very proud of the new political movement we helped to create. It is a force for change that, in the current climate, can only get stronger."

28 Feb 2012 16:26:51

Could Irish voters say FU to the Merkozy plan to save the €uro?

By Tim Montgomerie
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Euro meltdown
Ireland is going to have another one of those double referenda on EU treaties. You know the ones. They vote the 'wrong' way the first time and then a few months later vote the 'right' way. The Irish government had hoped to avoid a vote but legal advice from the Attorney General made a vote impossible to duck.

Guido is very excited that the Irish will reject Fiscal Union on the basis that they don't want to bailout the bankers. I hope he's right. The greater likelihood is that the €uro will break up in some way before any Fiscal Union treaty is ratified. That, I understand, is the view of Number 11.

Callanan Martin June 2011Martin Callanan, leader of Tory MEPs and Chairman of the ECR Group, has issued this statement:

"This treaty was designed with this eventuality in mind. That is why only 12 of the 17 euro zone countries need to ratify it before it comes into force. Unfortunately, that seems to be how democracy works in the EU these days. This treaty does nothing to solve the immediate crisis. At best it is a distraction from the real economic problems we face. The fiscal compact effectively renders socialist high-spending policies illegal. As a fiscal conservative I should be delighted. However, a nation's economic destiny should be determined by the people through a ballot box, not political elites in a room in Brussels."

21 Feb 2012 06:09:32

Martin Callanan MEP: Speaking of the "Grexit", we're suddenly in fashion

CallananMartin Callanan is Leader of the Tory MEPs.

You know, in truth I have been saying the same thing for months.

Long before Cameron's December veto, even before the EU effectively sacked Greece's Prime Minister and appointed a place man, since way back last autumn in fact I have said the only way for that poor, stricken nation to start rebuilding its ravaged economy was to default on its debts, leave the euro and let its currency find a natural level.

We even spoke of this prospect, fairly snappily I thought, as our 3D vision for Greece's survival: she must Default, Decouple and Devalue, we said - then base recovery on a cheaper drachma that will make her exports and tourism industry good value once more.

Back then, the proposal was about as popular as a stink bomb in a space suit - and got just about as good an airing.

Not so when I delivered the same message last week, however.

In my new role as chairman of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, I got a decent chunk of speaking time in the Strasbourg chamber in a debate on the upcoming EU summit scheduled for March 1.

I used it to tell MEPs the summit must be used mainly to plan for Greece's orderly withdrawal from the euro. To tell them such summits had become divorced entirely from the real world - where nobody seriously believed the latest package would actually save Greece. To tell them the unpalatable truth that even if Greece fulfilled all the conditions being heaped upon her, unlikely as that was, then by 2020, after eight more years of grinding austerity, she would still be in a worse position than Italy is now!

While economic reform was essential in the long term, I said: "A devaluation coupled with a default is the only was to salvage something from the wreckage of the Greek economy and to save a generation or more of young Greeks from a miserable economic inheritance."

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30 Jan 2012 15:23:07

The veto "is no more", it "has ceased to be", it is "bereft of life", it "rests in peace"

By Tim Montgomerie
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Crumbling veto white

I called it on Saturday and Eurosceptic parliamentarians are now in agreement. Cameron's veto has all but died. Andrew Lilico calls it a capitulation.

Dan Hannan MEP is most categorical:

"December's 'veto' turns out to be nothing of the kind; at best, it is a partial opt-out. Britain had asked for concessions in return for allowing the other member states to use EU institutions and structures for their fiscal compact. No such concessions were forthcoming, but we have given them permission anyway. The only difference is that, because the deal was done in a separate treaty structure, the PM doesn't have to put anything through the House of Commons. We had a generational opportunity to improve our relationship with the EU. That opportunity has passed."

Callanan Martin June 2011Martin Callanan, leader of Tory MEPs, has come to a similar conclusion but explains why the Coalition may have felt it had no choice:

"There is no doubt that the Government's position has altered since the December summit when they were insisting the Institutions could not be used. I blame a combination of appeasing Nick Clegg (who is desperate to sign anything the EU puts in front of him) and the practical reality that this pact is actually quite hard to prevent. The Government would have to ask the ECJ to rule against itself having a role! Any action could easily take 2 years, we would probably lose and, if the Euro collapsed in the meantime, the UK would get the blame. It's particularly ironic when the EU lectures developing countries about the importance of good governance and the rule of law!"

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24 Jan 2012 11:18:21

Downgrades, stitch-ups - and bad news for rats: Martin Callanan MEP's latest Diary


Once again as MEPs gathered in Strasbourg on a Monday, they were still feeling the tremors from events the previous Friday.

Last month it was the Cameron veto that had left Conservatives stirred and our opponents shaken.

This month it was the downgrade of France's credit rating that was causing an almighty kerfuffle.

When the news came through that Standard and Poor's were relieving President Sarkozy of his country's triple-A grading, there was a collective intake of breath across the continent.

The eurocrats were still reeling - still smarting - on Monday as the parliamentary travelling circus headed for Strasbourg. Back in Brussels, the EU´s spin doctorate was on top "we know best" form, venting the Commission's spleen over the credit rating agencies.

"We have better information and analysis than they do," a spokesman said. Oh really? Then wouldn't it be helpful - one smart journalist asked - if you published the good news. Then it would be of some use.

It was a "put up or shut up" challenge. Yet the Commission press team's response was - wait for it - that publishing the information would be too much trouble.

It made me wonder just how much trouble counts as too much - too much, that is, to protect the euro's integrity (as the commission would have it) from the reckless calumny of the credit ratings agencies.

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22 Dec 2011 12:15:45

Martin Callanan MEP's report from the European Parliament

Martin Callanan is leader of the Tory MEPs.

Of course, we were supposed to be feeling "isolated". That was according to the newspapers with a federalist leaning - and especially if you listened to the BBC.

We were meant to be marginalised and misled too, but above all - "isolated". That was the buzzword on every corporation newsreader's lips and every euro-mad leader-writer's spell-check.

Yet isolated was about the last thing Tory MEPs were feeling as we gathered in Strasbourg for last week's plenary session. On the Monday after "Veto Friday", we felt united, hopeful, energised: all of those things; but isolated? Not that you would notice.

"Isolated" implies vulnerability, fear, even regret. On the contrary, Conservatives were feeling confident, invigorated and - not to put too fine a point on it - right.

Inevitably, there was a backlash against us in the parliament chamber. On Tuesday, the EPP's leader Joseph Daul provocatively said the Prime Minister's veto showed we in Britain lacked "solidarity" with the rest of the EU. He said we should therefore forfeit our hard-fought rebate (or as much of it as Labour hadn't already handed back). If anyone still thinks we should never have left the EPP, please take heed.

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22 Nov 2011 13:07:24

Martin Callanan MEP's report from the European Parliament

Martin Callanan is leader of the Tory MEPs.

Strasbourg had even more of an Alice in Wonderland feel about it than usual this week, especially so when I sat down briefly to go through Thursday morning's press.

In the national file there was the Financial Times, clearly keen to cement its reputation as the Euro-federalists' bible, having a swipe at me and my colleagues under a headline "European Tories deal green blow to premier".

The article had swallowed wholesale the spin from a Labour press release effectively accusing us of being environmental thugs and vandals, simply because Conservative MEPs refused to support an attempt to further burden industry by unilaterally increasing the EU's carbon reduction target from 20 to 30 per cent. Notably, the FT was the only paper to run the release.

In my regional press file, a cutting from the Newcastle Journal. No political point-scoring here, only the desperately sad news that Rio Tinto Zinc is to close its Alcan smelting plant in Lynemouth, Northumberland with the loss of over 500 jobs.

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8 Nov 2011 07:05:00

Martin Callanan MEP's report from the European Parliament

CALLANAN MARTINMartin Callanan is leader of the Tory MEPs.

Last week, the action was all happening in Brussels. Two summits, countless meetings, media galore. The European Parliament, however, was in Strasbourg!

The mood was sombre but strangely detached from the historic events happening 250 miles up the road. Actually, I’m not sure our being in Brussels would make much difference – the current Eurozone crisis is more of an academic discussion in the parliament about whether we need more ‘community method’ rather than the intergovernmental method. One poster I recently saw was advertising a hearing for the Green group, with the title: “Never waste a crisis”!

After the Sunday summit failed to reach agreement on the terms of a new bailout fund, I began to hear something that strangely I’d not heard before: people openly talking about the demise (or at least the reduction in size) of the Eurozone. Of course, they would never dream of saying such things publicly. Heaven forbid that anyone would question the Euro project.

So, with usual arrogance and aloofness, the parliament went about its business. As EU leaders prepared to meet in Brussels, we in Strasbourg voted on the EU’s budget for 2012.

Of course, the parliament – once again – voted for an increase of over five percent. They still really don’t get it.

After last year’s 2.9 percent rise, this is just another slap in the face for the taxpayers in countries who pay the EU’s bills.

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1 Nov 2011 07:11:08

Leader of Tory MEPs renews call for Greece to leave €uro after last week's deal thrown into chaos by referendum plan

By Tim Montgomerie
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Last week's Eurozone deal was only ever going to be a sticking plaster solution. The level of Greek debt went from deadly before the deal to still murderous afterwards. The overnight news that the Greek people will get a chance to reject that deal in a referendum will deeply unsettle global markets.

Callanan Martin June 2011The leader of Tory MEPs, Martin Callanan, has issued a statement overnight saying that it is now clear that Greece must leave the Eurozone:

“Are we witnessing the turning point in the Eurozone crisis? Surely Greece must now leave the Euro. It is clearly incapable of bringing its deficit under control. The Greek people simply do not wish to change the ways that put them in this situation in the first place. Even if Papandreou wins this battle, there is too much organised opposition for him to win the war. Democracy and the Eurozone are becoming antonymous. The Greek people should be entitled to set their own economic policy, but the cost of the retention of their democracy must be their exit from the Euro. German taxpayers are also sick of the Greeks constantly looking a gift horse in the mouth. Something has to give. If the Greeks wanted to control their economic destiny then they should have joined the UK in staying outside the single currency. President Sarkozy said last week that Greece should never have joined Euro. Now is time to correct the mistake.”

Callanan and Boris Johnson are willing and able to say what Cameron and Osborne do not.

13 Jul 2011 06:55:49

Martin Callanan MEP's EU Diary: The 'Euro at all costs' mentality in Brussels has run its course

Callanan Martin Callanan is an MEP for North East England and leader of the Conservative group in the European Parliament. This is his latest monthly report for ConservativeHome readers.


Albert Einstein once defined insanity as, 'doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.' I wonder then what he would make of the Eurozone crisis.

The 'Euro at all costs' mentality in Brussels has run its course. A second bailout for Greece, with numerous austere conditions attached, is showing no sign of stemming the bleeding - the markets see through it.

However, the prospect of the contagion spreading to Italy and Spain and the ongoing concerns about Portugal make for very grim reading and if they do follow the other "PIIGS" then surely the current policy of
bailouts cannot be sustained.

Portugal's new centre-right government has taken early initiatives to tackle some of its debts and to make its economy more competitive yet the markets are still not satisfied as we saw last week when the ratings agencies downgraded them once again.

The ire that the ratings agencies attracted from the commission, and particularly President Barroso, shows how - as usual - the commission flaps around trying to find any scapegoat possible to blame rather than addressing the underlying factors that have caused the agencies to downgrade them in the first place. It's akin to blaming the weather forecaster for the heavy rain!

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