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Kirkhope: Cherry-picking from the European Constitution would be unproductive

Speech by Timothy Kirkhope MEP, Leader of the Conservatives in the European Parliament, to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, during the Debate on the European Council (15-16 June)

Mr President, this summit is scheduled to be, in part at least, a stocktaking exercise on the European Constitution. Yet the Constitution, however you look at it, is discredited. France and the Netherlands should not be asked to vote on it again, and the Dutch Prime Minister's remarks that the Dutch people cannot be expected to do so should be taken very seriously. The longer this issue drags on, the more out of touch the European Union appears to be with its citizens.

We must move on from the endless debate on constitutional mechanics and get on with delivering results, because if we do not do that, citizens will conclude that their leaders have learned nothing. Cherry-picking from the constitutional text, at this stage at least, would be unproductive.

However, we certainly need a Europe of results, as President Barroso has rightly suggested. I personally also want to see a Europe of real reform, because without reform there can be no results. Progress has been made in economic reform and I congratulate President Barroso and his colleagues for the work they have done there. However, we need to do much more and be more focused, as Mrs Wallström said, on achieving the concrete results.

There is one other thing I briefly want to mention. The British Foreign Secretary said that she will try to overturn decisions on opening up Council meetings to public scrutiny. This is absolutely astonishing and worrying, and is a clear U-turn in British Government policy. Mr Blair constantly preached the virtues of more openness during his Presidency and we got a specific agreement that we would get openness in relation to Council meetings and Council processes. It is absolutely essential that the other governments give the British Foreign Secretary a short, sharp shock at her first summit and ignore her attempts to preserve secrecy in this unfair and unacceptable way.

What has she got to hide? It is a shameful move on the part of the British Government and I hope it will be soundly defeated!

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