Reform, Renegotiation, Referendum
On the 22nd of May electors will vote in the European elections. With over 50 per cent of UK legislation emanating from the European Union, these elections are very important for businesses and individuals in the UK.
In the weeks running up to these important elections, Endeavour Public Affairs will be publishing a series of exclusive articles from the leaders of the UK groups setting out their vision for the future of the EU and what specific policies they and their colleagues are fighting for in the European elections. The first article is from Syed Kamall MEP, Conservative Party MEP for London and Leader of the UK Conservative MEP Group in the European Parliament.
To follow Syed Kamall on Twitter – @SyedKamall
When you look at the problems of the eurozone, low productivity, and high levels of unemployment in parts of the EU, it is quite clear that the European Union cannot go on as it is. Europe needs to change and Britain’s relationship with the EU has to change too.
Of all the British political parties that voters can choose, only the Conservatives have a plan to deliver the changes that we need. And once we have delivered that change, the British people will get a vote in an in/out referendum in 2017. The Conservative Party’s strategy can be summed up by the three Rs – Reform, Renegotiation, and Referendum.
Some commentators and politicians are saying that renegotiation is a waste of time, that the EU cannot be changed and that we should unilaterally withdraw at the first opportunity. Having been an MEP working in Brussels to limit the damage of proposed EU financial services regulation for the past few years, I understand their frustration. However, we should not forget that the Conservatives have already secured several major wins, wins that at the time our rivals said were not possible. It was a Conservative Prime Minister who came to power in 2010 who successfully took Britain out of the euro bail out mechanism that Gordon Brown had signed us up to. It was a Conservative Prime Minister who vetoed a new EU fiscal treaty that would have given Brussels even more power. And it was a Conservative Prime Minister who achieved the first ever cut to the EU budget, something that even Margaret Thatcher did not achieve.
Other critics claim that asking the British people in a referendum whether we should stay in the EU or not is dangerous, a threat to our prosperity. It is precisely this arrogance that has made our political classes so distant from voters in recent years. Labour and the Lib Dems are too afraid to ask the people what they think, and UKIP have already decided what they think is best. While we can recommend a course of action and negotiate on their behalf, only the Conservatives believe in trusting the British people to decide whether our future should be inside or outside the European Union.
As leader of the Conservative MEPs, I know that the European Parliament is not an institution that often grabs headlines in Britain and when it does, it is often for the wrong reasons. But whether we like it or not, when it comes to EU legislation, the European Parliament now has equal power with the 28 governments of the EU.
So when the Prime Minister negotiated the first ever cut to the EU budget with fellow national leaders, that was not the end of the story. He needed Conservative MEPs to get it through the European Parliament. It was a tough battle and MEPs from other countries and other parties told us that we could not do it. But thanks to my team of hard working Conservative MEPs we got the budget cut passed in the European Parliament.
The European elections on May 22nd matter. The British people will have a choice between returning a strong team of Conservative MEPs to achieve even more reforms and to deliver the Prime Minister’s plan to make the EU work for Britain, or Labour and the Lib Dems who have done nothing to bring about change. Both these parties have latterly started talking about “reform” but go with the flow and vote for more EU red tape, Brussels interference, and more powers exercised by Brussels.
Voting Conservative on May 22nd will send a strong team of Conservative MEPs to Brussels to continue to work alongside a Conservative Prime Minister and to deliver EU reform, renegotiation, and a referendum for the British people.
Published: Monday 28 April 2014
© Copyright of Endeavour Public Affairs 2014
The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone.