Speeches recovered from the Conservative party’s online archive More…

Bringing Common Sense to the Common Market

This time last year, we celebrated winning the European election - doubling our number of Conservative MEPs in the European Parliament.

Labour lost that election - and halved their MEPs. We now have a Conservative MEP in every part of the UK, working to deliver our manifesto in Europe and campaigning alongside you for a victory at home.

Remember our demonstration against the French beef ban in the Champs Elysées, led by my deputy Robert Sturdy. Remember our Westminster-trained Chief Whip, Timothy Kirkhope, leading our dignified walk-out on Jacques Chirac, when he opened that monstrous new Parliament building in Strasbourg.

To really punch above our weight - just three dozen Tories in a Parliament nearly as big as the House of Commons - we have to plan together, work together, and above all vote together. Politics is a team game. I know the Party would like to thank my colleagues for playing as a team. And we are working as never before with our colleagues in Westminster: we are a joined-up Opposition.

Chairman, from Athens to Brussels to Copenhagen, people right across Europe are sending out a clear message. They have had enough of arrogant Socialist governments bossing them around. And those 13 out of fifteen socialist governments are running the European Union. No wonder it is not popular!

The people of Europe want a better future: a Europe of super people, not the superstate they fear.

First, they protested against fuel prices. Then the Danes said no again to Brussels. And in Belgrade they are on the streets once more. At our conference last year, I said let's blow the whistle on Slobodan Milosevic. This year, they would not let me into Belgrade for the election. The only outside observers allowed in were from the great democracies of Iraq, Russia and China.

I was told today from Belgrade that the real result was 57 percent for the opposition and 33 percent for Milosevic. This year, they are shaking babies' rattles in Republic Square. I'll tell you who is rattled - it's Milosevic.

What Francis and I want to do today is send a clear message to the people of Serbia: we're with you.

Talking of Slobba, it must be hard for Labour to find prestigious international figures to call their own. Last week in Brighton, they were proudly parading Nelson Mandela. But the only British politician I know who ever actually visited Mandela in gaol was my colleague, and our human rights spokesman, Nicholas Bethell.

Mr Chairman, Conservative MEPs have been delivering in Brussels and they are reporting to you in their regions. We have voted no to tax harmonisation. No to giving up our veto. No to a binding EU Charter of Rights. No to getting rid of our Budget rebate. Surprise, surprise; Lib Dem and Labour MEPs - Tony's clonies - have voted yes to all these things.

We say yes to a European Union which delivers a Single Market with real competition, which promotes world free trade, which helps our environment without unnecessary red tape. And we should take the best from the Continent, as Michael Portillo has told us, where their health and education policies have something to teach us.

Most of all, we say yes to embracing Europe's new democracies. Enlargement is our paramount political duty. We must not allow Socialist protectionists to replace the Iron Curtain with obstruction and a new curtain of red tape.

And we have got to do more about fraud and corruption in the EU itself.

Ten years ago, I uncovered serious fraud in the Commission's tourism unit. It was only when I called in the Belgian Fraud Squad that the Commission even set up an inquiry. But they then ignored their own auditor, Paul van Buitenen, until he finally blew the whistle from the inside. Last week, crooked Greek official George Tzoanos was sentenced to four years. And about time too! It's time to stop business as usual in Brussels.

Today, in Strasbourg, my colleagues are unveiling our performance score board on the new Commissioners, one year on. Prodi gets 1.5 points out of 10 - so much for his Romano Empire; Neil Kinnock gets 4 out of 10; but our own Chris Patten, who has made a real start at cleaning up the chaos of the EU's external aid programme, scores 8 out of 10.

Only yesterday we announced a public hearing in Brussels, led by my colleague Malcolm Harbour, on his report into the way the Commission works.

The fact is that it takes a Tory to reform.

Mr Chairman, we have an election victory behind us. And an election victory ahead of us. One of the key battlegrounds will be Europe. This must be a strong point for us. At least we know what we think about Europe, which is more than you can say for Labour.

Our consistency on Europe is underlined by the slogan we used in the last General Election, the Euro-Election and in last month's "Believing in Britain". Let's hear it again. We want to be "in Europe not run by Europe". It worked - and it's William's.

We are bringing common sense to the Common Market. We want to help you bring it back to Westminster as well.

Whenever, together, we will win.

Keyboard shortcuts

j previous speech k next speech