Conservative leader David Cameron has today signed a joint declaration with the Czech Civic Democratic Party to form a new European parliamentary group, ending speculation that he may collude with Poland’s homophobic Law and Justice Party.
Mr Cameron joined with Mirek Topolanek, the leader of the Czech Civic Democratic Party and the Prime Minister designate of the Czech Republic, to announce the creation of a new parliamentary group in the European Parliament to argue the case for reform in the EU.
It will be created at the beginning of the next European Parliament in 2009.
They also announced the creation of a new Movement for European Reform which will be open to all like minded parties across Europe.
Mr Cameron said: “In my leadership election campaign I made a promise. I said that if elected, I would lead my Party as a consistent Conservative.
“That under my leadership, we wouldn’t say one thing in London and a different thing in Brussels. I said that meant leaving the EPP, the European People’s Party, Parliamentary Group in the European Parliament.
“The reason is simple, which is that while we agree about open markets and deregulation we don’t share their views about the future development of Europe.
“This agreement will help build the strength of the centre-right in Europe. Instead of being reluctant room mates of the EPP, we can now operate as friendly neighbours, working together when we agree, but with our own distinctive political group.”
Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague’s official spokesperson told PinkNews.co.uk that the Polish LJP wished to join an alliance with the Conservative party immediately, but that Messrs Hague and Cameron felt that the social conservatism of some LJP members ruled out an immediate relationship.
Lech Kaczynski, Poland’s president, who is a key figure in the controversial party, banned gay rights marches when he was mayor of Warsaw. He is also known as a staunch supporter of the death penalty.
Homophobic rhetoric has increased amongst politicians in Poland recently, last month deputy minister of education Miroslaw Orzechowskiego, accused the Campaign against Homophobia, a Polish gay group, of “depraving young people.” Pointing to an international seminar on gender stereotypes that the group co-sponsored in 2005, he said the ministry would work to ?prevent such organisations from getting money in the future.?
In recent weeks, another Polish minister, Wojciech Wierzejski, blamed “homos” for conspiring against him.
More recently gay bars have been closed and organisations banned in Warsaw.
Last month, the European Union passed a resolution to combat homophobia and racism on the continent, which would see sentences handed down for homophobic, anti-Semitic, and anti-Muslim offences.
Mr Cameron’s full speech is below,
“In my leadership election campaign I made a promise. I said that if elected, I would lead my Party as a consistent Conservative, that under my leadership, we wouldn’t say one thing in London and a different thing in Brussels.
I said that meant leaving the EPP, the European People’s Party, Parliamentary Group in the European Parliament. The reason is simple – which is that while we agree about open markets and deregulation we don’t share their views about the future development of Europe.
Today, I am fulfilling the pledge I made in the election.
With our close allies the Czech Civic Democratic Party and their Leader, Prime Minister-designate Mirek Topolanek, I can announce the creation of a new parliamentary group for Europe.
Our partners have asked that we create this group at the beginning of the next European Parliament in 2009. That is what we will do.
The Joint Declaration we sign together today commits us to that course. This Agreement will help build the strength of the centre-right in Europe. Instead of being reluctant room mates of the EPP, we can now operate as friendly neighbours – working together when we agree, but with our own distinctive political group.
We are also announcing today a new Movement for European Reform open to parties across Europe. Let me tell you exactly why we need a new parliamentary group and a new Movement for European Reform.
It is time to drive forward a new agenda in Europe – looking outwards to the world, flexible, competitive – ready to face the challenges of globalisation in the 21st century.
The environment doesn’t respect national boundaries. It is right that the EU should take a lead.
Yet we are failing to meet the challenge. Europe’s Kyoto target is to reduce carbon emissions by 8 per cent by 2012. But with just six years to go, carbon emissions are down by less than 1 per cent.
Twelve member states have actually gone backwards and increased their emissions. The EU is set to miss its Kyoto emission targets.
That’s not good enough and it’s got to change. Last year the EU made helping lift Africa out of poverty a priority. But many of the EU’s policies are making poverty in developing countries worse.
The EU remains committed to a largely unreformed CAP, an economic and humanitarian disaster which pushes up food prices for the poorest people in Europe and helps lock the developing world in poverty.
And the EU still has higher trade barriers against poor countries than it does against rich.
That’s not good enough and it needs to change.
The EU has not had its accounts signed off for 11 years in a row. The Commission continues to use an accounting system that the EU’s former Chief Accountant says is wide open to fraud.
If a company director failed to sign off accounts for 11 years, they would probably be heading for jail. It’s not good enough and it’s got to change.
In the early 90s Labour MEPs said it was an “unacceptable and irresponsible waste of money” to have two European parliaments, and to spend £120 million a year traipsing between Brussels and Strasbourg.
Tony Blair used to say that the shuttling to and from Strasbourg should go. Most MEPs think it should go. Governments from most other member states think it should go and have argued for it to go for twenty years. Well, it’s still happening.
That’s not good enough. In 2000 Europe’s leaders said they would make the EU the most competitive knowledge-based economy in the world by 2010.
EU politicians repeated their call for economic reform in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005. But since 1998 new EU regulations have cost business £37 billion. In the modern global economy we simply cannot afford this. The European Commission says that the EU’s share of world output is set to fall by almost half to ten per cent. As Digby Jones has said, “India and China will eat Europe for lunch if we are not careful.”
So we will be the champions for real change in Europe. We will be a strong new voice for change, optimism and hope. We are a new generation. We have no time for the culture of hopelessness that has plagued the way the EU addresses the big global challenges we face.
It’s because we want to see a future for the EU and believe in a strong Europe that we want to make the EU confront its failings.
We refuse to accept failure as Tony Blair has. We want to win the arguments, build support and get things done.
That is why we are starting today with the creation of our new group and our new movement. Ours is a manifesto for change.
How can Europe stand by, talking, talking, talking as Africa stays poor because of basic food shortages? The next generation of Europeans wants a continent to be proud of. They want Europe to be a force for good, to lead by example, to be a shining symbol of progress.
And they want to reach out with enthusiasm to the countries that aspire to join the EU. That is the Europe we are starting to build here in London today.
So no more introspection. No more hand-wringing.
No more standing still while the world moves on. We want a Europe not of back-room deals, but of bright ideals. We are proud, confident and ambitious Europeans. There is now a future for the moderate mainstream majority in Europe: so come and join us.
We have a future to fight for.”