It was one of David Cameron’s major pledges: to take the Conservative MEPs out of the European People’s Party – European Democrats (EPP-ED) group in the European Parliament. I wrote about this back in December 2005 [post is here]. But as you see from the amount of time that has elapsed, Cameron has not made much progress. He’s sent William Hague off to Brussels a few times to talk to ODS from Czech Republic, the eurosceptic party of VÃƒÂ¡clav Klaus, and Law & Justice from Poland, best known for their policies opposing gay rights marches in Warsaw. You need parties from 5 countries to form a political group, and Cameron was hence a long way off.
Anyway, the eurosceptic lobby in the Tory Party, have now launched their Adieu EPP campaign – their effort to get Cameron to deliver on his pledge. Strangely, I don’t know what to make of this. While I love the fact that the Tories are squirming about Europe once more, it is really stupid that we alwyas have this fight in Britain about whether the country should be in the EU or not. It’s actually in Britain’s interests, and the EU’s interests, that the Tories have a decent relationship with the EPP, just as Labour should have a decent relationship with the PES. No sensible notion of transnational party politics is likely to happen if the EU’s 3rd largest Member State is not really involved. I feel my stomach wrench when I write that as it’s so pleasant to look at the Tories in a moment of confusion, but Britain needs to improve its realtionship with the EU and – on balance – that’s more important and the Tories should stay in the EPP.
CLARIFICATION in light of comments posted here: the Conservatives are talking about leaving the EPP-ED Group in the European Parliament. The UK Conservatives are in the ED (European Democrats) part of the EPP-ED, together with ODS of the Czech Republic and some others – see this page about the European Democrats. The European People’s Party, a transnational political party, does not count the UK Conservatives among its members – its website is here. Hence strictly speaking, the website to which this post originally refers should actually be called Adieu EPP-ED. Hope that’s clear!