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Giles Chichester: Lisbon Treaty takes Europe in the wrong direction

Speech by Giles Chichester MEP, Chairman of the Conservatives in the European Parliament, during the debate on the Future of Europe in Strasbourg

"Mr President, I am delighted to welcome the Prime Minister today. His historic win in the Swedish general election was a personal triumph. I also congratulate him on uniting the Centre Right and breaking the Social Democrat dominance, and wish him and his Government well.

Today, we are discussing the future of Europe in a week in which this House will vote on a report endorsing the Lisbon Treaty. I want to make very clear that British Conservative MEPs will vote against that report because we fundamentally disagree with the Treaty, with the process by which it was agreed and with the fact that it is simply a carbon copy of the Constitution rejected by two of the Union's founding Member States in national referendums.

This Treaty takes Europe in the wrong direction. It transfers substantial new powers to the EU, some of them in extremely sensitive areas of national interest. My Party has a different vision for the future of Europe, which is for a Europe that is both more open, dynamic and transparent and less centralised, uniform and inflexible.

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The British Parliament is currently deliberating the Treaty. The people of the United Kingdom had, of course, hoped to have their say in a Referendum. But the British Government has shamefully reneged on its manifesto pledge to hold one.

My Party, both here and in the UK, will continue to campaign vigorously for the people to have their say in a Referendum. Without widespread public support the European Union will lack popular legitimacy for what it is doing. It needs to move on from its obsession with institutions. To be fit for the 21st century, the EU needs to focus on issues like the environment, economic competitiveness and global poverty, in order to demonstrate it is worthy of public support. These are the things that the future of Europe should be about."

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