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Nosemonkey's EUtopia

In search of a European identity

The Conservatives’ new European Parliament Group: On the brink of collapse already?

Only a couple of days after its formation, and already David Cameron’s new European Parliament political grouping (the brilliantly-named Conservatives and Reformists) have lost a member. Considering that you need MEPs from seven member states to form an EP group, and this new one is relying on no fewer than five individual MEPs from various member states to make up the numbers, I reckon we should set up a sweepstake on how long this lasts.

It is, after all, basically just three parties from three member states (the Conservatives from the UK, Law & Justice from Poland and the Civic Democrats from the Czech Republic), of which the Tories massively dominate (and seem, from what I can tell, to be the most sensible and successful of the lot – both the Poles and the Czechs have some rather odd views, to put it mildly, and seem to be on the wane in their respective countries while the Tories are on the rise).

Relying on a bunch of individual MEPs to make up the requirement for multiple member states was always going to be a risky strategy – but how far are the Conservatives, as by far the dominant force in terms of numbers, going to be prepared to pander to individuals to hold the group together? Today we’ve learned that one member – Hannu Takkula of the Finnish Centre Party – has already decided to jump ship. He may well swiftly have been replaced with Waldemar Tomaszewski from Lithuania (although I’m not sure of the details here as yet), but that’s still taking the new group perilously close to the bare minimum spread of member states for group qualification.

And at the same time, there’s a whole bunch of eurosceptic/anti-EU right(ish)-wing parties knocking around in the large unaligned part of the European Parliament – not just the likes of the UK’s BNP and other far-right nationalists and fascists, but also the leftovers from the recently collapsed Independence/Democracy group (the one headed by UKIP’s Nigel Farage until the elections, when the collapse of support for the group’s Polish contingent spelled its doom).

Farage is a canny operator, and certainly not stupid – I wouldn’t put it past him to be able to paint Cameron’s Conservatives as far too wishy-washy (which is, after all, the entire UKIP strategy in the UK) in an effort to steal away some of those individual MEPs from this new group to an Ind/Dem successor. He may even get somewhere. And with the numbers Cameron’s new group is relying on, this split between the *quite* eurosceptics and the *very* eurosceptics could roll on and on – all the while with the balance of power being determined by a small group of individual, more or less independent MEPs, most of whom will have entirely their own agendas.

I can only see this as turning out badly – either they give individuals (many of whom appear to have rather, shall we say “unusual” views?) various positions of influence to keep them on board and so hold the group together, or they go for their original plans (in Cameron’s case, unknown, and in Farage’s case, an all out anti-EU nationalism – albeit one that’s not quite as extreme as it is often made out), and risk alienating the individuals on which they will both be entirely reliant for the committee places and funding that EP group status affords.

In other words, the two pretenders to the title of official European Parliamentary eurosceptic group have the option of either sacrificing their ideals and handing power over to mavericks or risking obscurity in the nonaligned sidelines.

5 Comments

  1. This does not show a good side to the EU Parliament. These political parties get (taxpayers) funds anyway, and to be bribed to form alliances with others to get more shekels shows a seamier side to it all.
    The funding should be cut, not increased.

  2. Agreed – it’s not a particularly good system. At some point I really must write that post I’ve been meaning to do about what a proper EU parliament should look like (assuming, of course, that there should be one at all – which is a bit of a moot point…)

    In the meantime (and utterly unrelatedly) I stumbled across this post from three years ago earlier today, and thought of you – rather a nice indication of where our views align. Considering your views on the UK’s civil service’s incompetence when it comes to EU legislation, it may well be worth you having a gander at the Davidson Review in more detail… I doubt it’ll tell you much you don’t already know, but may confirm a few things.

  3. Given that forming a group in the EP presses the button on quite a bit of funding, staff, office space, debating time and committee seats, I wonder what the side deal is with the various parties of whom one member only has joined the Tories? It seems like they could be in a position to lend the Tories a member in exchange for a consideration, whether of resources or of votes.

  4. Pingback: Increasing disquiet surrounds new centre-right EP group | Nosemonkey’s EUtopia

  5. Thankyou Nosemonkey for linking to that post.
    I`m looking at it again in another light, I`m sure you`ll agree that this is a big problem for you EUrophiles.
    If we take all the different strands of EUrosceptics and put them into two camps with blurred boundaries,it should be those who are EUrosceptic because of a matter of principle, and those who become EUrosceptic because of what they see in practise, or their experiences of it. (I` not sure where I am, but as I say the dividing lines are blurred ).
    Once someone goes into the second camp, he/she may start taking a hard look at the project.If he/she see more of the same happening to others, some of the sleight of hand tricks to force through new treaties, and the governance being twisted to try to keep a lid on things, then he/she moves from being discommoded, to dubious to confounded to distrusting to hostile.
    The EUrophile side cannot expect these emotions to go just by giving us Glittering Generalities (sorry for those words but that is the truth )or minor benefits.A harder sell is needed.
    BTW is it easier to change the senior civil servants so that they get the best from the EU, or leave the EU altogether ?
    It looks like the civil service is the enemy of both EUrophile and EUrosceptic.