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Bushill Matthews: We have to connect with the people who elected us

Speech by Philip Bushill-Matthews MEP, Leader of the Conservatives in the European Parliament during the Debate on the Results of the European Council meeting of 19/20 June 2008 in Brussels on Slovenian Presidency's term of office

Mr President, Presidency, firstly may I join with colleagues in congratulating Slovenia on a very successful Council pursued with such efficiency, such friendliness and such flair.

However, I have read the Council conclusions of last week regarding the Irish referendum, and have to say that I despair. All the heads of government attending that Council session, just like my MEP colleagues, were elected by the people to be accountable to the people. However, it would appear that those attending the Council somehow believe that they were elected by each other and are accountable to nobody. How else can one explain the conclusions?

The first page declared that the Council took note of the Irish referendum result, and then promptly proceeded to ignore it. The first page also added that the purpose of the Lisbon Treaty was to help the EU work more democratically. Who says? How can it work more democratically when most people are not allowed a vote, and those that do vote are ignored? No wonder Europe has a problem. No wonder the Irish voted 'no'.

I want the EU to succeed and to prosper, not to fail. However, that means we have to connect with the people who elected us. Please let us stop and listen.

So, may I address this message in particular to the incoming Council Presidency, to France. France is a great country and a founder member of the EU. Its First Republic was founded on three key principles: liberty, equality and fraternity. These did not just mean liberty for politicians in equality with other politicians. It meant liberty and equality for the people and fraternity amongst all the people. It is time for us here to show just such fraternity with the people of Ireland. Let us halt the ratification process now. Let the politicians show that we are at last listening to the people. Then maybe - just maybe - the people will start listening to the politicians.

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