Friday, July 09, 2004

The Budapest Declaration

Yesterday, delegates of the EPP-ED European Parliamentary Group – to which the Conservative MEPs are affiliated, by order of Michael Howard, met in Budapest.

Speaking to a press conference afterwards, Hans-Gert Poettering, Chairman of the Group, outlined a declaration adopted by the Group, which they are calling "The Budapest Declaration".

This is reproduced in full below and it is relevant to note that the Conservative MEPs do not seem to have issued a statement distancing themselves from the statement.

I will leave the readers to judge whether this declaration is entirely in accord with Conservative values and policy.

The Declaration

On 13 June 2004 Europeans took a decisive step towards the realisation of the grand design of the founding fathers of the European Union: after 50 years of oppression and communist dictatorship, people in eight Central and Eastern European countries got the right for the first time to join other, more fortunate citizens of Europe and decide as to who should represent them in the only directly elected institution of the European Union, the European Parliament. By this act Europe of the 25 has acquired full legitimacy.

The European People's Party and European Democrats received the most votes cast in the June 2004 EP elections and has thereby become the largest political group of the European Parliament. The party and its representatives in the EP have always been convinced that the enlargement of the Union constituted a historic milestone on the road to an ever closer union between the peoples of Europe and that it is a unique opportunity to guarantee peace, stability and prosperity in our area.

For the EPP-ED Group enlargement has also been a moral, historical and political obligation. By this, with the collapse of the Berlin Wall, the EPP began to embrace the Christian-Democratic, Conservative and Centrist parties of the young democracies in order to reunite the European family.

It has thus a symbolic meaning and it is clear evidence of this strong relationship and co-operation that the new EPP-ED Group has chosen to hold its constituent session in Budapest, the symbol of the fight against totalitarian communism, on the invitation of Fidesz-Hungarian Civic Union, which received the highest percentage of the votes cast for a centre-right party in EP elections.

This constituent session is the most numerous meeting of the EPP-ED Group ever, and the Group is the only political formation of the European Parliament in which all the 25 Member States are represented.

After this grand reconfiguration of the EU, in which and after having its new Parliament elected, the European Union must look forward. The reinforced EPP-ED Group wishes to get down to business and start working immediately in order to complete the heavy agenda facing Europe.

The new Constitution, which was approved after so many difficulties and such an intensive work by both the Convention and the Intergovernmental Conference, must first be ratified and then implemented. Another urgent task is to agree on the financial perspectives of the Union for the period 2007-2013.

The low turnout at the last elections signifies a further responsibility to convince voters that Europe is a condition of prosperity and the people's opinion does count, hence they should participate in and express an opinion on the development of the EU.

The EPP-ED Group attaches great importance to maintaining the spiritual and cultural identity of Europe in a globalised world, and at the same time accepting the cultural diversity of its peoples. We need reforms to develop and to ensure the framework conditions of the European model in order to increase the welfare of our peoples.

Our Group reaffirms its commitment to the European model of social market economy, through generating higher economic growth and creating jobs. The European Union should not deviate from its basic principles and objectives, and it should never be forgotten that the Union's identity is deeply rooted in the Christian tradition and in the common religious heritage of our continent.

In parallel, the EU should become an ever more coherent, united entity and should not permit a two-speed Europe. The equality of its Member States, a fair balance between the interests of larger and smaller states, solidarity and efficacy of Union policies should go hand in hand. Therefore Europe needs fresh efforts, which are necessary for the policies we want to develop.

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