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I predict a pretty lively thread on this subject.In many ways it is a desperately minor issue,the good governence of our country will not be affected by whomsoever our MEPs sit with.What is not a minor issue however is that it provides us with a crucial insight into DCs' courage and resolve and ability to keep promises.Don't flunk this test Dave!

It is vital that Cameron-Hague do not kick this pledge into the long grass. If they do they will not have formally abandoned the pledge but they will have gutted it of meaning. Cameron will look like every other Blairite politician who only delivers a fraction of what he or she promises.

Another hidden part of the EPP equation -

In last week's Guardian, Alastair Campbell's Deputy, Lance Price explained how Murdoch has dictated Blair's policy on the EU for 10 years. Murdoch fears the EU's Competition Commissioner. They handle Murdoch with velvet gloves as long as he uses his midia dominance to keep UK politicians in the EU camp.

No doubt he's been requested to give Cameron a good kicking if he moves out of the EPP, or looks like moving out.

The best option is to stop talking about the EPP, and leave. Close the door gently.

This is in many ways a Clause 4 moment. There is very little point anymore in the Westminster parliament since 85% of all laws emenate from Brussels / Strasbourg. If DC takes the bull by the horns and advocates a much tougher line on the EU along the lines of genuinely being able to change Britain for the better with the tools to do so, many of us in the Party will be much more engaged and willing to swallow his 'modernising' tendencies.

If he ditches or softens on this, I confidently predict that it will be the moment in his leadership he regrets the most as it will mean that many genuine, active Conservatives will cease to support the Party.

"Does the Conservative Party belong with the great mainstream centre-right parties of Continental Europe, the German, Dutch and Portuguese Christian Democrats, the French UMP, the Spanish Partido Popular, the Swedish Moderate Party, the Italian Forza Italia etc? Or does it belong with populist/nationalist parties in Eastern Europe.."

The Christian Democrat traditions that the centre-right parties listed espouse are radically different from the conservative traditions in this party. One of the key reasons we make and have made bad bedfellows is this underlying philosophical difference.

Christian democracy places great emphasis on moral values, law & order, social responsibility and social solidarity. The conservative party shares some common beliefs but to a large extent the social democratic wings of the Labour and LibDem parties have more in common with CDs than we do.

The EPP is a Christian Democratic union at heart and we would fit better with a more nationalist Eurosceptic grouping or in a much looser grouping that hadn't pretensions to being a European political union/party.

I personally think we should have announced we would dis-associate ourselves from the EPP in 2009 and would until then fight against the constitution, against further inegration etc.

However in real politick terms DC promised we would leave and reneging on that promise would severely weaken him. IMHO while regretting their departure and recognising the damage they can still cause losing Clarke/Heseltine/Patten/Gummer wouldn't be a bad thing in long run (too many faces from Major years).

Now if I was a Labour spin doctor leaving the EPP might be something I'd announce just as the press found the stories to ensure Prezza was finally levered out of his office...

Btw Tim,on your editorial the first letter of several lines cannot be seen (at least on my screen) with the result that it looks like William Hagues' approval rating has gone down to 0%!

If Cameron does not leave now, he will prove himself to be another empty lying politician, happy to say anything to get his way; if he delays beyond this year, it will be clear it is an empty ploy, and many current Conservative supporters - including myself - will leave the Conservative Party. This issue will be defining of his trustworthiness, and of his commitment to fight the EU federalists instead of supporting them as previous leaders have done. Previous Conservative action in the EU has reeked of hypocricy. Leaving the EPP is the only course open if he is to make a new start, and forge a new kind of EU, as Daniel Hannan has said very eloquently.

Sorry about that Malcolm. It looks OK on my browser. It's almost impossible to ensure it works on everyone's all of the time!

So... only a few more days to wait, it seems. Hopefully whatever is decided will lance the boil. It seems whatever decision is taken there will be "fall out" and great care must be taken to ensure that the infection doesn't spread through the rest of the party - although I fear it already has!

I think my £100 is safe.

You'll be able to buy everyone a round of drinks then, Chad!! ;-)

I'm more nervous than I was about my £100 Chad!

(For those who don't know... Chad has promised to pay £100 into Conservative funds if the Tories leave the EPP by the end of '06... I've promised to give £100 to The Taxpayers' Alliance if they don't).

The Bromley byelection showed 55% of Conservatives staying at home and not voting. Many of those were showing their concerns about Cameron. If he flunks the EPP decision, he will be adding to the ranks of the 'unconvinced'. If he fulfils his promise, his credibility will begin to establish.

There are only a handful of MP's who back continued EPP membership. They are openly disloyal and happy to use the media to attack Cameron. He should not worry. Once we're out, this story will no longer be news. It's only of minority interest as it is. But to Conservative voters, it's an acid test of Cameron's politics.

Well in the unlikely event that I lose, it will help plug a tiny hole in that Tory debt! ;-)

Appropriate, that! Matthew Elliot used to work for Tim Kirkhope.

Cameron will leave. he has no choice at all, no exit clause from carrying it out. Either he does it and causes a split in the MEPs, or he doesnt carry it out and he alienates the right more than normal. This, as Chad will no doubt confirm, was one of the firm promises Cameron made. Cameron will have a big black mark by his name if he fails to carry it out.

Personally, I think we should stay in the EPP for reasons Ive said before. I also recognise Im in a minority here.

Don't worry, James, I feel the same way. I think however Cameron will have to stick by his decision and it will happen.

I am described as a Europhile, but am actually just an EU optimist. I can see that there are huge problems with the EU, but I am optimistic that it is within our power to fix the problems and the benefits are worth a great many more years’ perseverance.

However, UKIP and Better Off Out are essential ingredients of change. The dinosaurs at the heart of the EU need to be under no illusion that Britain’s PM has the mandate and courage to leave. It is only then that they may be pressured to accept change. It was a rash promise to leave the EPP but, if Cameron fails to do so, he’ll have failed at the first.

Of course, the truth is that it would be suicidal to leave the EU. If you think that the EU is corrupt in its dealings now, imagine how much they’ll want to give us a bloody nose for leaving…

Exactly James.

Not only was it an unequivocal pledge, but Cameron has stated that ideologically, the Tories have no place in the EPP.

So he would be breaking both a firm pledge made to members in order to win election, and showing that he can his stated values are a sham.

It is an issue of trust over an issue of the EPP. If Cameron reneges on a pledge to members, why should the rest of the country ever trust a word he says?

As such, I kind of sense a 2009 exit fudge stategy, however, as Lee Rotherham noted, that will be as good as reneging because it won't happen.

I think a 2009 exit strategy would be a very clever compromise!

suicidal? that's a strong word to use when you have eminent economists on both sides of the argument

Well it will certinaly give us new faces more time to make ukip more appealling to disillusioned eurosceptics! :-)

Tim it's working now ,no idea what was wrong previously very weird!
Why are you an EU optimist Mark? When have we been able 'to fix' any of the problems that we have encountered with our membership? I remember people like Douglas Hurd making speeches as to how the EU is 'now going our way'.I'm still waiting to hear of any examples.

Anyone who's seen the abominable treatment handed out ot Roger Helmer by Kirkhope cannot possibly support staying inside the EPP. Visit www.rogerhelmer.com

When Conservatives are not even allowed to mention that they have reasonable suspicions about EU corruption without their own Party exiling them, Freedom of Speech already has one foot in the grave.

Asking true Conservatives to bend over that far, is asking too much.

What else is our Party for if not to defend democracy?

Coming out of the EPP is only a minor step. There is a mountain to climb in rebuilding the credibility of government and politicians. This is only the beginning. If we cannot even achieve this much, then what prospect is there for better things ahead?

If Cameron will fulfil his promise, he will give millions of people a badly needed dose of hope.

Those MEPs that chose the EPP over the Conservative Party will only remain a thorn in Cameron's side until the next Euro Elections.

The Europhile MPs are nearly all close to retirement.

Angela Merkel is compromised by her Grand coalition, Berlisconi is out of power, the French Right is completely useless as an ally. The conservative parties in the newer members are far closer to our way of thinking.

The Right of the party has got little meat from Cameron, whilst the left's appetite is more sated.

I'm sure you will be unsurprised to see that I don't think that there is much to consider. Pulling out wins by a mile.

"Of course, the truth is that it would be suicidal to leave the EU. If you think that the EU is corrupt in its dealings now, imagine how much they’ll want to give us a bloody nose for leaving…"

I honestly don't believe the EU would last long after Britain left.

Ted is right. The Conservative Party has always been far more libertarian than the Christian Democrats. The traditions British Conservatives celebrate are very different from those the CDs celebrate.

EPP withdrawal is a small but necessary first step to improving our nation's relationship with our European friends and neighbours. "Just do it" as the Nike strapline goes.

Perhaps I can give a big thanks to Tim for this article? Its good to see him sorting out all the analysis so we know the various splits. I dont usually do this but this article in particular has been very useful to help me understand the possible consequences of this pledge.

I agree with you James - thanks Editor!

It's been a lively debate and for the most part good-natured which is always nice.

Why are you an EU optimist Mark?

I'm an optimist in everything. Expectations of failure are too easily achieved.

Mark,I thought you might have quoted me a host of reasons why EU membership had benefited Britain in recent years but no afraid not.I used to be an EU optimist too,many years ago now....

When have we been able 'to fix' any of the problems that we have encountered with our membership?

That's like an independent on a council saying 'I've never been able to get the council to do what I want - I'm not going to run again.'

(To carry the analogy further, the independent might have left one of the main party groups...)

The EPP's beliefs are not our beliefs, therefore to stay in the EPP "for benefits" is very cheap and lacks integrity. Leaving the EPP should be spun as this. We must leave whether there's a new group or not.

Clarke/Heseltine/Etc are all responsible for the fall of the last Conservative government, with their fetish like love of Europe against members and public wishes. Ridding ourselves of them will be our Clause IV moment. They are not on our side, or they'd not attack everything endlessly.

I just read Fraser Nelson in this week's Spectator and stumbled across this - 'For Mr Cameron, the policy of EPP withdrawal is a giant cut of meat thrown to the Eurosceptics to stop them tearing him to pieces as they have done the four previous leaders

Nelson's in error. Thatcher and IDS were savaged by europhiles. Hague and Howard lost elections. Nelson writes with good flow, but his facts are dubious. Also he appears to be unwilling to put the case for leaving the EPP.

"I'm an optimist in everything. Expectations of failure are too easily achieved."

Then why are you pessimistic about Britain's ability to "survive" outside the EU?

Sounds like selective optimism to me...

I'm an optimist in everything. Expectations of failure are too easily achieved

These two sentences are out of harmony with each other. The writer might be schizophrenic.....or a sufferer from the rare condition of europhilia - at least rare in these parts!

This is worse than having teeth pulled. We all heard the promise and we all know it was made in a leadership election so counts double!

The longer it drags on, the worse the Cameron position becomes. He will hardly be applauded to the rafters for taking the better part of a year to carry out a pledge, the 2009 fudge is ridiculous, and going back on his word is career suicide.

Just get on and do it, man! The lack of backbone on this issue is unedifying.

We should leave the EPP ASAP. End of.
The impression I have formed of the old guard europhiles is not good. Crusty old buffers, out of date, out of step, looking back not forward, not built to last.
And Roger H should be reinstated.

"We should leave the EPP ASAP. End of.
The impression I have formed of the old guard europhiles is not good. Crusty old buffers, out of date, out of step, looking back not forward, not built to last.
And Roger H should be reinstated"

And Timothy Kirkhope should resign.

"Crusty old buffers, out of date, out of step, looking back not forward, not built to last."
I couldn't agree more------that lot should follow Bob Neill's suggestion and look in the mirror.The likes of Hannan,Hollobone,Carswell,Kamal and Davies look a lot more appealing to the young future than Clarke,Heseltine,Gummer,Hurd,Taylor and Patten of the past.
Fast forward to a global future!If you pull out of the EU the EPP question is irrelevant.Now what does Cameron's PPS think?

This is a v interesting article. One thing is for sure, the Labour Party cannot wait to see what the actual decision is - either way they will have something to bash Cameron with. I must add though, that as someone who works in the City, I hope the Tories do stay in the EPP. Without over-estimating the power of the European Parliament, it is essential that UK business retains influence over a system that now generates more than 50% of applicable legislation and regulation. Our Tory friends in the EPP have tried to serve UK plc well to date - I fear that might not be the case in the future if the Tories leave.

Is this degenerating into a rather ageist slanging match?

Really T.How and when did the EPP serve Britain well?

I have to say that I think British business influences European legislation by lobbying directly at the commission through industry group or hired PR firms.

I don't think many bother going through MEPs

The unending stream of badly and loosely drafted directives which are unevenly implemented into member states' own law is a real problem.

harmonisation seems to be a thing of the past. It's all about "approximation" directives these days.

Either way it so often seems to be law churned out for its own sake. Emperor's new clothes.


It's not about age. It's about certain MPs and MEPs being rigid and inflexible in their views and unable to accept the world is changing.

It's also about the unpleasantly smug tones with which the Europhile wing of the party denounce the current policy direction.

And finally (IMO) it's about the Leader of the Conservatives in the European Parliament treating one of his MEPs, who has not been proved to do anything wrong, in a totally inappropriate and, to be frank, disgusting manner.

If we want to prove that we've changed as a party, what better way to do it than encouraging the remaining MPs/MEPs of the "50s Europhile set" to step down?

According to the latest Eurobarometer, Finland still ranks as the lowest in the support league, with a mere 49 percent in favour of EU membership, while the UK is not far behind with 42 percent.

Whatever the raving Europhiles might say, therefore – and whatever the Boy King thinks is "cool" – the majority of people in the UK do not support our membership of the EU. Furthermore, in only 34 percent of British people does the EU conjure up a favourable image while only 31 percent "tend to trust" the Union as a whole.

The Boy can only win by opting out of the EPP.

Sirry, typpo - the Finland figure should read 29 percent.

Aaaarrrrrrrrgggggg.... 39 percent....

Yorkshire Lad - your explanation was fine (although I don't agree with anything you say) until you spoilt it all by referring to "MPs/MEPs of the 50s Europhile set". That seems to refer to their generation - and surely your "Sainted Roger of Blessed Memory" falls into the same generation - although of course he seems to be trying to recapture his lost youth by posing on a motorbike with a glamorous research assistant behind him!!!

It is true Sally that there are hardly any young Europhiles within the Tory party now.In fact I can't really think of any, although I'm sure I'll be corrected by someone.
Perhaps because those who still support it remember when the EEC was a successful entity in the 1950/60s rather than the protectionist inefficient and corrupt organisation it is today.

Fair point, Malcolm!

Maybe Older = Wiser?

....with notable exceptions, of course!

Yorkshire Lad - another point which I must take up is your comment that the MEP concerned had "not been proved to do anything wrong". What he did wrong was refuse to obey his chief whip's instruction to remove his name from a motion of censure. Now, he obviously had very strong views about the matter but as everybody who holds elected office knows, you argue your corner in group and then if you lose the argument you accept it. You do not deliberately disobey the whip.
I don't know if you have ever worked in a private company, but people have been dismissed for "gross misconduct" for much lesser offences - in one company I worked for, you could be instantly dismissed for using one of your own disks in the firm's computer!!

'refuse to obey his chief whip's instruction '

We're not the fascist party. Roger stood up for a principle of fighting fraud and corruption with the backing of his constituants. Suppose Churchill 'obeyed' the whips and refused to back down over Germany's rearming before the war. What would have happened then.

Is there room for principle and free thinking in politics anymore??

Just when we are getting our act together Europe rears its head....

One way or another this boil has to be lanced. The question of EPP membership is merely a proxy debate for the bigger question of whether Britain should leave the EU. Again - Tory divisions widening with the BOO campaign...

Perhaps it's time to accept that the Conservative Party will never have a unanimous view, but the Country does deserve and would probably quite like a referendum on continued EU membership.

The likes of Hannan,Hollobone,Carswell,Kamal and Davies look a lot more appealing to the young future than Clarke,Heseltine,Gummer,Hurd,Taylor and Patten of the past.

What - swivel-eyed loons over the moderate and thoughtful old(ish) buffers for whom I once used to vote? No way!(and I'm 38).

The Conservatives have poisoned themselves with Europhobia. I don't think you realise how unappealing many of the new lot are, outside the party.

Of course there is, Andrew and that is why being able to argue in group is vital. However, once a decision is taken you have to obey the party line - Churchill was a very notable exception and I am sure Mr Helmer is far too modest to equate himself to the Great Winston Spencer!!

Now, Now Now, Valerie! I think Swivel Eyed Loons is going a bit far - well for MOST of the people you mention anyway!

Syed Kamall in particular is an excellent chap but only misguided on this particular issue.

If our MEP's go silent about corruption in the EU, they become accessories to the act.

Roger Helmer should be honoured by the Conservative Party for refusing to abide by the morality which says 'it's not our responsibility'.

If it's not the responsibility of MEP's, who the hell's responsibility is it?

Helmer is a hero. Like Churchill it might be decades before he's recognised. Why wait so long this time?

the majority of people in the UK do not support our membership of the EU.

Where do you get that from? The number of people who say membership is a good thing has just risen to an 11-year high. 42% now say it's a good thing, and 25% a bad thing. An eight-point increase in the former, and a decrease (not sure how much) in the latter.

You can hardly lump the ones who say 'neither good nor bad' in with the ones who say it's a bad thing. If people don't know, they don't know - don't make up their minds for them!

Where do you get that 'EU membership is a good thing' finding from, Valerie? Thanks.

Oh dear oh dear oh dear.

Why equate leaving the EPP with leaving the EU?

If we want to leave the EU, why bother leaving the EPP?

Just leave.

If we are staying in the EU, we must start to speak out and say what we want, why we are a part of the EU and which direction we believe it should go. Outside the EPP we can start to do that. Inside the EPP we are silenced and neutralised.

To my way of thinking, if we cannot leave the EPP, we must leave the EU. If we can't even speak as a Party, as a country, we have no business being in the EU.

If we can speak, we might be able to bring the EU around to a state that is more acceptable to us.

This is the opposite of what is being represented. Let's just stick to the EPP decision in this thread, please.

The 2009 compromise that pro-EPP supporters are pushing seems tenable only if DC didn't make any pledge about the timeline within which he would deliver on his promise to leave the EPP. It's interesting, Editor, that you say this is a "hotly disputed" issue. Do you know what the evidence out there is?

I have had a quick look at Dan Hannan's website. On 31 October 2005, commenting on the leadership election, he wrote:

"There is a clear division between the candidates on this question. David Cameron would remove us from the EPP grouping immediately; David Davis would leave the decision to MEPs, a majority of whom favour the status quo. With Cameron, we'll be out of the EPP by Christmas; with Davis, we'll still have this albatross dragging us deckwards at the next European election."


Evidently Dan was under the clear impression that DC had given a pretty firm deadline.

The problem now is that this issue has developed traction beyond the merits, one way or the other, of the decision at stake. This has been allowed to drag on too long. Clarity of action & purpose is required to bring this to an end.

It's here - there's a table on page 11. The Austrians are lowest, with 34%, and the Irish highest with 77%.


There were a couple of articles in the press about it.

I'll try again with a tiny url (or add 'df' to the end of the link above).


I called Roger Helmer and asked him why he was supporting David Cameron instead of Liam Fox. In my opinion Fox was a more reliable answer to Roger's predicament.

Roger was quite convinced that there was a rock-botton guarantee that if Cameron won the leadership, they would be out of the EPP quicker than with Fox, which is why he was backing him.

If Cameron had not made this promise and heavily emphasised it, Fox would probably have made the final two not David Davis. The final membership round would have been a lot closer. Fox might have won.

It reminds me of Blair promising PR to Paddy Ashdown and Roy jenkins to keep them onside while he secured his Premiership. Once in plce, the promise gets watered down and quietly dropped.

If Cameron does the same, for many Conservatives it will be the end of the line. We've sat through the removal of IDS who was popular, the appointment of Howard over our heads, and now the Cameron media deification. If Cameron is prepared to visibly lie to win, he's no better than Blair, and is not showing the kind of principle a leader should display.

The modernisers say we have nowhere to go, so we can be safely ignored. That could be their greatest mistake.

Are you trying to wind people up Sally? The fact that Roger Helmer was stripped of the Tory Whip for trying to expose fraud was a shameful act and a deep stain on the honour of Tim Kirkhope.
PS Gary, go away and plague another blog.You 've got absolutely nothing of interest to say and you're saying it too loud.

Well said, Malcolm! You are a thoroughly good Egg!!!!

... by the way that was deeply sarcastic!!!!


I have no idea what Sally is on about either, Malcolm. I think it would be best if any further comments were focused on the subject of this thread please.

Sorry Editor. I am not going to contribute any more to this thread - it is getting rather personal.

Why do the Europhiles refer to Dan Hannan and the gang as swivel-eyed loons, without actually putting up a convincing argument why they are wrong.

Sally, would you like to join the Labour party?

It's a broad church with very much respect of other people's opinion.

You'll be made most welcome.

We have people like malcolm as well, but we ignore them too.

"Why do the Europhiles refer to Dan Hannan and the gang as swivel-eyed loons, without actually putting up a convincing argument why they are wrong."

I welcome this Andrew, as I noted before because it shows that the eurosceptics are winning the argument.

Almost all the calm, rational debate on the eu issue here comes from the sceptics, and almost all the personal abuse comes from the europhiles.

Very telling.

but as everybody who holds elected office knows, you argue your corner in group and then if you lose the argument you accept it. You do not deliberately disobey the whip."

Really? I would think very poorly of an MP who had never defied the party whip?

Andrew/Chad - does someone fancy putting up a convincing argument as to why the Europhiles deserve to be called 'crusty old buffers?'

It's also difficult to contrast 'europhiles' and 'eurosceptics,' though.

What does 'eurosceptic' mean now? Someone who criticises EU structures but doesn't advocate withdrawal, or someone who advocates withdrawal? There's a big difference (and I wouldn't refer to the former as SELs, so I may have been a bit sweeping) but the two are still lumped together.

I've never used the phrase 'crusty old buffers'. I stick with Europhile as there are one or two young Europhiles.

I think we would all be interested in a piece (maybe on platform) on why we should stay in the EPP.

I've never used the phrase 'crusty old buffers' either!

Europhiles are perfectly entitled to their views. I just wish all the personal insults could stop and we can accept that there are four not three approaches to the EU:

1: europhile
2: eurosceptic - wants reform and thinks we can achieve it within the eu.
3: eurosceptic - wants reforms but no longer believes it is possible within the eu so supports withdrawal.
4: europhobes.

Most people calling for withdrawal are 3's not 4's and it does not help in any way, calling all those who support withdrawal as europhobes any more than it helps calling those who do not want to withdraw 'europhiles'.

It's time for calm, rational, reasoned debate, and acceptance that eu withdrawal is one reasoned possibility.

I agree, and I'm sorry I called them SELs - I was only trying to make the point that they weren't necessarily more appealing to people outside the party in the Conservatives' supposed liberal target market than the COBs - that many people in that market (including me) would consider them extreme.

I'd be a 2) on your scale, but wouldn't describe myself as a Eurosceptic. Euro-optimist, more like. There should probably be a different name for 1) as well, but I can't think of one.

I follow 1,2 and 3. But what is the difference between 3 and 4? I suggest -

1.europhile - someone uncritically caught up by the European dream.

2.eurosceptic (A) - no illusions about the nature of the EU. Thinks it might be worth a few more attempts at reform - if that is possible - with withdrawal the likely ultimate outcome.

3.national democrat (eurosceptic B) - no point in attempting reform. Return to national democracy now. Other countries can do what they like.

4. europhobe - someone who thinks the EU is damaging to all its members and the rest of the world, not just their own country. The whole thing needs bringing to an end.

We need a new term for category 3, so as to avoid confusion between 2 and 3. maybe 'national democrat'?

Hi William,

"But what is the difference between 3 and 4? "

A 4 is an EU hating, police state scare-mongerer, much like David Noakes, a UKIP leadership candidate.

2 and 3 are the same in beliefs but differ in solution. The both want eu reform, the 2 believes that the necessary reform is possible, the 3 wants that same reform, but no longer believes it can be achieved.

I would call 3 a euro-realist.

I should add that I am a 3 and far from 'Other countries can do what they like.', I consider myself an internationalist who believes that regionalist power bases like the EU are actually hindering not helping the world's major challenges.

I simply want nation-state internationalism. I am reassured that even the Libdems have some eu-sceptic internationalists, they simply differ as they see the eu as a helpful step towards internationalism not the roadblock I believe it to be.

But William, there's a big space between 1) and 2). I'm critical of the EU, but I'm a Europhile, not a Eurosceptic and no way as downbeat as no illusions about the nature of the EU. Thinks it might be worth a few more attempts at reform Most Lib Dems I know fall into the same category.

Chad, I very much see your point on EU hindrance to internationalism - and I'm very critical of anything that smacks of 'fortress Europe' - but I don't agree with your solution.

Hi Valerie,

That's fair enough. That's where hopefully, calm and rational debate will come into play to discuss the merits of the different solutions. I've an open mind.

In a simple three-way cut, I guess it would be possible to call someone a europhile if they could see no circumstance under which they would agree to leave the EU, and a europhobe as someone who could see no such circumstance under which they would agree to remain in the EU. This could then leave a eurosceptic the the middle.

That would make me a clear eurosceptic.

In many debates here, quite a few people who call themselves eurosceptics seem really to be europhiles; not that they love all things eu, but that they refuse to define a single circumstance under which they would want to leave the eu.

Perhaps that is the clearest and simplest definition:

1. europhile: would not support coming out in any circumstance.

2 eurosceptic: can define both circumstances to stay in, and to withdraw.

3 europhobe: would not support staying in, in any cirumstance.

I think a Eurosceptic is one who accepts the basic premise of a free trade area and a degree of common ideals (the ECHR, free and fair elections etc.), accepts that this requires an administration/bureaucracy to manage but approaches any further integration with a sceptical point of view. Sceptisim doesn't mean rejection - it's more about "prove it". Therefore a sceptic might well accept further integration if convinced of it's benefits.
I grew up in a world where the iron curtain seemed permanent and the Communist v West cold war a continuing threat and therefore was very pro-Europe when this bolstered the West. We saw the EEC successfully manage the transition from Fascist dictatorships in Greece, Spain & Portugal through economic rewards and adoption of those common ideals. Post Iron curtain this process has helped the development of strong democratic governments in the Baltics, central Europe and even the Ukraine. The EU has been a force for good in re-building our common European home and enabling us to move freely across our continent.
However there is another thread of European integration which I do not agree with - the Franco-German recreation of Charlemagne's Christendom. Acceptable to the French because the Frankish empire looks like one French thought can dominate, acceptable to the Germans because they can again dominate economically without the nationalist overtones they fear. I'm sceptical of this, as in my view, any supra-national entity has dominant and subject peoples, and in that builds the seeds of its destruction. However I might accept part of this structure if I could see both a personal and national benefit.

As for leaving the EU this would be an option when faced by either acceptance of a federation or departure. That point has not been reached.

Does it really matter what Cameron does with the EPP ? Things have evolved way beyond this now and there is absolutely no reason to vote Conservative in Euro Elections since for practical purposes Conservative Salarymen have exactly the same views as Lib Dems or Labour - they all like the perks and the salary package and don't really care much beyond that.


I think the point is that if we withdraw from the EPP some of that might start to change. If we merely accept the status quo nothing will.

Culturally and linguistically, I am a Europhile; economically and politically, I am not.
Perhaps people who similarly are not certain about their position on Europe - and therefore how to vote - should consider some pratical points:
i.is it right that an unelected body (the Commission) should lay down our laws and regulations? It is undemocratic and you and I can do nothing to change that.
ii. is one interest rate for 25 countries tenable or will the whole economic system melt down in due course? Inflation is running at 4% in Spain, so there is a very unhealthy head of steam building up in their property market with effectively free credit being offered.
iii. the EU is a gravy train and corruption is rife. The accounts have not been signed off for years.
iv. law making is typically French and socialist with everything codified to the nth degree.
There are of course many other questions that never get properly addressed.
I have the greatest respect for the fundamental reason for the EU - that no European country should ever wage war against another one (as suggested by Churchill in WW2) - and for its initial phase as a European trading bloc but I would prefer an association of sovereign nation states with a limited number of common policies.
If something along these lines gained widespread support, then a policy could emerge of either (i) staying in and trying to reform the EU from within or (ii) withdrawing from the EU to become an associate member. Given our status as a net importer from Europe, our trade should not suffer and we could govern ourselves again.

i) The Commission doesn't lay down the law. It drafts it.
ii) not qualified enough to comment, but I very much doubt meltdown.
iii)Someone called Mack argued very convincingly on David Rennie's blog that the Commission isn't a gravy train - it doesn't pay nearly well enough to attract good professionals. There's certainly some gravy elsewhere, though. Agree that accounts not being signed off is outrageous, but new system introduced this year should bring improvement there. Let's hope it does - if not, more needed.
iv. the government still seems to find room to add more detail when it transposes directives...

Re. free trade area - Vaclav Klaus, held up as a great Eurosceptic, said in his interview with the FT magazine a few weeks ago 'Don't put me down as wanting a free trade area.'

The single market is infinitely more useful than a free trade area - just a question of curbing some of the excesses, i.e. do we really need a level playing field on social issues in order to ensure the single market works properly? I don't think so.

The how Europhile/sceptic you are question is an interesting one. Perhaps one for the members survey.

The problem is the corruption, the lack of accountability and the assumption of perfection of the lawmaker.

In Britain we used to have a wonderful system whereby you could write to your MP, he would forward your letter to the Minister responsible and you could influence government decisions as to laws to be passed, or how they were being implemented.

Now a letter to your MP usually gets a reply that we are conforming with Treaty obligations and there si nothing that can be done.

The only hope is that we can feed back our views via our MEP's. BUt as they are locked inside the EPP, they cannot speak openly ro be seen to 'rock the boat', as anyone trying to exercise a democratic right is seen by the EU.

Unless we can influence events inside the EU through our MEP's, we should quit. The loss of democracy, honesty, and trust that we are being asked to comply with otherwise is unacceptable.

Surely they can speak openly within the EPP - at least as much as a heavily-whipped backbench MP, cowed by loyalty and careerism. On an issue like the 48-hour week opt out the Conservatives definitely made their point of view known - are they going to have any *more* influence from outside the EPP?

You can also lobby whichever UK minister votes in the European Council on the issue in question. (The trouble is that you can't then see what they actually said within the council...)

I'm not suggesting everything's perfect with the EU's democratic mechanisms, but I think you're being defeatist - it's a lot better than you make out.

Hi Valerie
I am sure that you are correct in what you said about the Commission but the net effect is that businesses and personal life arte bedevilled here by EU law (see Christopher Booker every week). I suspect the main problem are the mass of nit-picking regulations which must stem from the Commission. If legislation is debated in the EU Parliament, why doesn't our government oppose the nonsensical laws?
As for the gravy train comment, I was relying on a very graphic article written by Dan Hannan some time back, when he described how he was berated by another conservative MEP for letting the cat out of the bag.
As I said, I would prefer a very close association with Europe, while remaining a sovereign nation state. Any EU legislation that happened to be worthwhile and based on commonsense would be passed through Parliament in the proper manner, whilst all the irritating rubbish be ignored.

the net effect is that businesses and personal life arte bedevilled here by EU law

Agree - but it's a situation to be dealt with, rather than running away from it. I know it's been said a million times, but any sort of meaningful 'close association' with the EU would still require that we implement single market legislation with 0 chance of influencing it. I just don't see the attraction. Even Liechtenstein has to apply EU labour law.

The final say on regulations is always in the council - i.e. member states - and in many cases also in parliament (i.e it has to be approved by both ministers and the parliament). The Commission doesn't have the final say. The parliament can also do a lot to improve legislation from the business point of view - slim it down/take out nit-picking stuff at request of business, or knock it back altogether to be redone.

With the advent of the new member states, it seems to be getting easier and easier to put together alliances in the council to knock back things like attempts to overturn the 48-hour week opt-out.

The Commission can be given the power to do the implementing regulations on its own, but even then parliament has just recently obtained more power over that (although unfortunately it needs a 2/3 majority vote) See http://euobserver.com/9/22014 )

That said, scrutiny of EU law by the UK parliament beforehand is sadly lacking. But we (the UK) could introduce that tomorrow if we wanted.

p.s. although nit-picking no doubt does get in when the Commission produces the implementing regulations, surely the scope for this must be pretty much set at the legislative stage? I'm not an expert - no doubt someone has examples of bad implementing regulations.

plus although I may not agree with Christopher Booker's solution to the issue (pull out), he performs a valuable service.

...as long as what he's criticising is actually the EU's fault, not the fault of our own dear government's gold-plating,in the many cases where it's up to them to make the implementing regs.

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