In the run up to the European Parliamentary Election in May, Europa United will be presenting an information article on each of the main groups and parties that make up the European Parliament. This is designed to help you find out as much information on who is seeking your vote in May 2019. Here we take a look at the European Conservatives & Reformists or ECR.
Founded in 2009, the ECR is the third largest group in the current European Parliament, although this is due mainly to the size of its UK delegation from the UK Conservative Party.
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Its Co-Chairmen, Syed Kamall and Ryszard Antoni Legutko, of the UK Conservative Party and the Polish Law and Justice Party respectively, are supported by six vice-chairs and two Co-Treasurers. Its 73 MEPs are drawn from 30 Parties in 19 of the EU’s 28 member states.
While the ECR positions itself as Centre-right – right, reflecting the political positions of its member Parties, the spectrum of ideologies they is a much richer mix, ranging from Centre to Right to Far-right.
Views and Priorities
The ECR is socially and economically conservative and believes that the European Union should answer directly to the governments of its member states and serve only those purposes that national governments alone cannot.
Its priorities are to ensure frictionless commerce within the Single Market and reinforce defence, security and law enforcement across borders. It supports a unified approach to controlled immigration, including a common asylum system.
To support intra-Europe trade, it seeks to reduce regulation, including those aimed at reducing the Continent’s contribution to climate change. It also seeks greater accountability and transparency in budget formation and decision-making.
A priority is seek to reduce regulation and red tape, especially for business, as a way of improving taxpayers’ value for money. The Group points to its efforts at identifying unnecessary bureaucracy and complicated regulations, as well as to ensure that the EU properly implements the competitiveness test evenly throughout the EU, especially for small and medium-sized businesses
• Economic liberalism
• Christian Democracy
Syed Kamall – UK & Ryszard Legutko – Poland
Hans-Olaf Henkel – Germany
Helga Stevens – Belgium
Peter van Dalen – Netherlands
Geoffrey van Orden – UK
Roberts Zile – Latvia
Emma McClarkin – UK
Kosma Zlotowski – Poland
At the heart of the ECR agenda is increased accountability to member states and transparency of the EU’s institutions, agencies, budget and policies, which it believes are essential to restoring public faith and trust in the EU. This necessitates identifying what isn’t working and acknowledging past mistakes.
The ECR supports international trade agreements with major economic powers while protecting certain EU sectors from shock effects. This includes limited and controlled opening of the domestic market to non-EU products, together with improved access to non-EU markets. The Group points to its support for new international agreements to break down barriers to trade between European firms and major economic powers around the world.
To combat climate change effectively, the Group supports an ambitious but incremental approach that would be supported by all member states. It favours adopting measures that are sustainable and avoid unnecessary cost burdens on businesses and member states. Priorities include protecting wildlife and endangered animals, especially from illegal trade, lowering carbon emissions through the Emission Trading Scheme, setting new ceilings for air quality in Europe and sustainable fishing and farming policies.
The ECR seeks to enhance internal and external security and fight cross-border crime, cyber-crime and terrorism through information sharing between the law enforcement authorities of member states. It points to its role in implementing the Passenger Name Records and the European Criminal Records Information Systems, among other initiatives. The Group believes that protecting citizens’ privacy and data should go hand in hand with making use of data by law enforcement authorities.
One of the Group’s founding principles and a top priority is reform of the Common European Asylum System. This would entail adopting EU-wide measures that are backed by all member states, helping member states protect external borders, increasing the rate of return of asylum-seekers, combating abuse of the EU asylum system, strengthening the role of Frontex, and continuing to work with third countries to prevent migrants from coming to the EU.
To deliver the best value for money, the EU should focus on achieving only that which cannot be delivered by national governments, such as reducing barriers within the Single Market, facilitating commerce within the EU, improving basic transport infrastructure, for example by opening domestic passenger rail services to competition from other European operators, and ensuring that consumer rights are upheld across all member states.
The Group itself gives its political position as Centre-right – right and champions conservatism, economic liberalism, Christian democracy and Euro-scepticism, putting it ideologically in the range from Centre to Right – far-right.
This is shown in the graph, which compares the political positions of the Group’s member parties and the ideologies of each. The left-hand bar shows Party-level political positions, while the right-hand bar looks deeper, to the sets of ideologies championed by Parties within the Group. Both are weighted by the number of MEPs representing them.
From the left-hand bar, we see that the dominant Party-level position is Centre-right. Much of this is attributable to the 18-strong contingent from the UK Conservative Party, but also includes five MEPs from Germany’s Liberal-Conservative Reformists, four from the Belgian New Flemish Alliance and nine MEPs from eight other Parties. 15 MEPs from the Polish Right Wing of the Republic represent the Right-wing contingent, together with eight smaller Parities and two Right-wing Independents. The Right to Far-right element comes from three MEPs from the Danish People’s Party and two from the Sweden Democrats.
Now look at the right-hand bar, which captures the ideologies adhered to by Parties in the Group. Notable is a Centre representation, mostly explained by the economic liberalism and pro-Europeanism of 12 member Parties with 35 MEPs between them, and a Centre-left contingent, mainly attributable to the ordoliberalism of the Polish Right Wing of the Republic. More notable is the large contribution of Right – far-right ideologies, especially Euro-scepticism and a range of nationalist and right-wing populist ideologies.
For a complete list of contact details about the ECR, click here.
The ECR office address is:
This information article was compiled by Europa United contributor Frances Cowell and published with the support of the European Parliament in Ireland and in conjunction with the #thistimeimvoting campaign.
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