Speech by Timothy Kirkhope MEP, Leader of the Conservatives in the European Parliament, during the debate on the Commission's Work Programme for 2005
This is an important debate. The emphasis the Commission places in this document on creating prosperity in Europe is welcome and overdue. Central to success will be the outcome of the Lisbon Strategy review which will be discussed at the Spring European Council. The language used on competitiveness, entrepreneurship, research, growth and jobs is more robust than under the last Commission.
However, there remains much work to be done to convince certain Member States of the need for effective and tough reform of Europe's economies. The revised Lisbon Strategy must not be weighed down with political correctness. Much has recently changed in Europe; enlargement of the Union has brought in countries who are strongly committed to flexible labour markets, to competitive taxation policies and the development of free trade.
In addition, we face the major challenges of competing not just with the United States, but with the emerging giants of China and India. Europe cannot simply go on talking about reform to meet these challenges.
I also welcome the emphasis placed on Member States applying EU legislation in their own countries. Coming from the UK, we have had a tendency, particularly since 1997, to enforce legislation in an over-enthusiastic manner while others have a tendency to minimise the effects of legislation they do not like. We must deliver less regulation, whether in the economic sphere or elsewhere. Previous Commissions have talked about this. This Commission must deliver.
There are, however, many other aspects of this document which I am very concerned about. We are, of course, opposed to the European Constitution. We cannot agree with the drive towards integration in the justice and home affairs fields. Similarly, in the foreign, security and defence arena, we believe that inter-governmentalism is the best way for Member States to proceed.
We will judge this Commission in part on its effectiveness in creating the environment for real economic reform, its commitment to less and better regulation, its determination to ensure that taxpayers' money is used efficiently and that fraud and mismanagement are tackled with great vigour.