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European party group manifestos
13 May, 2019

Know for what you are voting

In the European Parliament most MEPs sit in transnational party groups. This article by London4Europe Committee member Michael Romberg looks at where MEPs would sit and brings highlights from the programmes of the European Parliament Groups. A separate article goes through the UK parties' manifestos, including whether they support Brexit and actually wish to be part of delivering these Group manifestos.

 

London4Europe is all-party and non-party. There are many ways of being pro-European – individual voters need to choose which party is right for them.

The European Parliament publishes a list of groups. It is possible that after the 2019 elections different groups would form. For example, Italian Lega leader Matteo Salvini announced the intention to form a new European Alliance for Peoples and NationsThis report by UK in a Changing Europe on the elections describes how the Groups work and how the elections might affect them.

Most major UK parties are affiliated with pan-European parties and groups in the European Parliament. Change UK – rather naughtily (Left Foot Forward mocks it as “a blind Remain”) – will not say until after the election which group they would join.

The European Council’s choice of President of the European Commission should be informed by which party group wins the most seats in the elections. Most party groups have announced their Spitzenkandidat (lead candidate).

 

Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe

Supported in the UK by

Liberal Democrat Party

Alliance Party of Northern Ireland

 

Some of the other parties that support this group

Ciudanos (Spain)

Fianna Fail (Ireland)

 

Spitzenkandidat

No single candidate but a team, including Margrethe Vestager from Denmark, European Commissioner for Competition.

 

Manifesto

“… the choice is this: do we update the European Union to develop individual freedom, prosperity and stability, or do we go back to the times of nationalism and growing authoritarianism? ”

“Through strong liberal institutions, the rule of law and independent judiciary, we liberals are committed to protecting and promoting human and civil rights. ”

“Through competition, fairness and open trade, we liberals believe that progress for everyone and support for the vulnerable can be achieved by embracing the dynamics of market economies. ”

The manifesto includes proposals to: strengthen border controls, make migration agreements with safe third countries and create more legal routes into Europe; improve education for more creativity and soft skills; support research and innovation; take more action on climate change; promote enterprise and trade with a strong social contract; improve mechanisms for dealing with human rights breaches by member states; support enlargement once candidate countries meet accession criteria; increase support for Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression; review competences in the interests of subsidiarity.

 

Manifesto Text on Brexit

“We regret Brexit and call on the EU and Britain to make every effort to avoid a ‘no deal’ scenario which would have negative consequences for all concerned, and Ireland in particular. We hope a positive and close partnership and ongoing cooperation will be maintained between the EU and the United Kingdom if she ceases to be a member of the EU. If the United Kingdom decides to reverse its decision to leave the EU, we will welcome that decision and work to ensure the re-establishment of a refreshed and stable relationship.

“The Belfast Agreement must be upheld in full, including the rights of citizens in Northern Ireland to EU citizenship if they so wish, and we want a workable and operable guarantee to be included in the withdrawal agreement that ensures that there will be no hard border on the island of Ireland.”

 

Weblinks

Party website. ManifestoSpitzenkandidat (Team Europe). Constituent Parties.

 

European Conservatives and Reformists

Supported in the UK by

Conservatives (London MEP Syed Kamall is co-chair of the Parliamentary Group)

Ulster Unionist Party

 

Some of the other parties that support this group

Law and Justice (Poland)

Republican Party (USA)

 

Spitzenkandidat

Jan Zahradil, a former Czech MP and an MEP since 2004

 

Manifesto

Quotes from Jan Zahradil’s Retuning Europe. There is also the party group’s Vision for Europe.

“We can have an EU that is scaled back, flexible, prosperous, cost-effective, and respectful of national governments. ”

“… we need EU cooperation that is driven by the interests of Member States, their citizens, and the taxpayers. The time of rushed integration driven by ambitions of Brussels bureaucrats shall come to end.”

“The EU task should be reinforcing the place of Europe in the world, not attempting to replace national governments. We do not need a comm­on European solution to every problem that exists. We need common European solutions in the areas where there is add­ed value from working collectively such as: research, a single market, and trade agreements. What the citizens of European countries do not want is Brussels imposing a one­ size­ fits­ all policy on their values, areas of cooperation and national traditions.”

The manifesto also calls for: a Great Review of EU powers with a view to returning some to member states; stronger powers for national parliaments to stop EU laws or call for repatriation of EU powers; EU to provide border states with means to guard their frontiers; stop the Parliament shuttling between Strasbourg & Brussels; better co-ordination of defence procurement; reduce dependence on Russian gas supplies; completing the single market; more free trade deals.

 

Manifesto Text on Brexit

None found.

 

Weblinks

Party Group website. Party Group in Parliament. Manifestos: Jan Zahradil (Retuning Europe), the party group’s Vision for EuropeSpitzenkandidat. Constituent Parties.

 

European People’s Party

Supported in the UK

The UK EPP 4 Freedoms Party is not fielding candidates in the 2019 elections in London.

Two former Conservative MEPs were part of the EPP in the 2014-19 Parliament. Richard Ashworth MEP is shown on the EPP website as belonging to Change UK and is now a candidate for the party in the South East. There are conflicting reports whether the other, Julie Girling MEP, had joined Change UK or sat with the EPP as an independent; she now supports the Liberal Democrats. Change UK has not yet said which Group it would join if elected.

 

Some of the other parties that support this group

Österreichische Volkspartei (Austria)

Christlich Demokratische Union (Germany)

FIDESZ (Hungary)

Fine Gael (Ireland)

Forza Italia (Italy)

Partido Popular (Spain)

 

Spitzenkandidat

Bavarian MEP Manfred Weber

 

Manifesto

The manifesto and platform were adopted in 2012. The main website publishes commitments which seem to be more recent interpretations. The Parliamentary group publishes achievements and commitments for the 2019 elections and I have taken quotes from there.

A self-assured Europe that recognises its unique history and heritage and defends its way of life. A strong Europe that is ready to punch above its weight globally.

We believe the social market economy model is still the best placed to answer these new challenges.

The EPP Group wants the EU to be the champion of a rules-based trade order, for trade wars would result in a lose-lose situation for everyone and destroy many of the positive developments achieved over the last decades.

“... to defend the rules-based global order with multilateralism as its key principle against the growing threats and challenges to the multilateral system;”

“European defence can no longer be the weakest link in the EU integration process. In the current complex security environment, the EU cannot afford to be a bystander. The peace dividend is over.” …  “We would like the EU to agree on a roadmap that would lead to the establishment of a European Defence Union (defining strategic aims, a common understanding of threats, required capabilities and measures, binding commitments of Member States, alignment of strategic cultures, EU strategic autonomy).”

The manifesto also includes proposals to: complete the digital single market; improve learning opportunities for workers whose jobs are affected by technological change; a higher rate of support for cohesion projects in poorer regions; more visibility that projects have been EU-funded; support member states to combat fake news; prioritise a trade deal with Mercosur; support peace and stability in countries that border the EU; promote freedom of religious belief; strengthen border controls by technology and improving existing agencies; support EU-led missions in UN conflict prevention; more co-operation in cancer research; support for innovation.

  

Manifesto Text on Brexit

As Britain is leaving the European Union, we need to make sure that a comprehensive economic partnership rooted in trade is put in place. To date the UK has been an important contributor to the rules-based EU Internal Market. We should bring the future relationship with Britain as close as possible to the common market.”  (Free and fair trade)

“The EPP Group in the European Parliament wants to have an adequate regime for the recognition of third-country clearing houses by the Brexit date, but does not want to require British-based clearing houses to relocate after Brexit. The EPP Group wants more regulatory power over non-EU clearing houses if they clear transactions in Euros.” (Brexit: more regulatory power over non-EU clearing houses)

“Protecting fishermen against the consequences of Brexit. Supporting fishermen is also protecting them in rough times. Brexit is a major concern for the sector. We need to be prepared for every Brexit scenario. If an agreement is reached with the UK, the EPP Group demands that the economic agreement (Customs Union or FTA) is conditioned by access to waters and resources. The EPP Group will make sure fisheries is not a bargaining chip in the Brexit negotiations but on the contrary, a priority.” (Certainty for European fishermen)

 

Weblinks

Party Group website. Party Group in Parliament. Manifesto (Parliamentary Group's achievements and commitments for 2019 election). Spitzenkandidat. Constituent Parties. Constituent MEPs.

 

Greens / European Free Alliance

Supported in the UK by

Green Party of the UK

Scottish National Party

Plaid Cymru

 

Some of the other parties that support this group

Bűndnis 90/ Die Grűnen (Germany)

Piratenpartei (Germany)

Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (Spain)

 

Spitzenkandidat

The Greens have two Lead candidates: Ska Keller a German MEP and current co-leader of the Group; and Bas Eickhout from Holland. The Group’s European Free Alliance wing, which supports regionalist parties, has its own Spitzenkandidat: Oriol Junqueras, currently imprisoned because of his involvement in the 2017 Catalan independence referendum.

 

Manifesto of the Green Wing of the alliance

Quotes come from the manifesto and the statement of priorities:

“Our Green vision of Europe is that of a Europe that champions the greening of our economies, which will allow good new jobs to be created. That pursues social and generational justice and inclusive democracy. That protects its citizens and empowers them. That cherishes diversity and upholds the rule of law. That promotes international peace and the Sustainable Development Goals.”

“In today’s globalised world, no country is big enough to tackle problems alone. We can only take back control by working together and looking to the future – not by building walls and retreating into the past.”

“We want to renew the promise of Europe. We stand for the European project. We will work to push back against and isolate those who try to convert valid criticism of deficiencies and mistakes into an anti-European, extremist and xenophobic roll-back. We say no to a Europe of nationalisms. We consider the European unification process a great historical achievement. It benefits Europeans in multiple ways. But we will not rest on our laurels. Europe, our common home, is a dedication, a responsibility. ”

“European unity must be developed further in every generation. In our time, it is becoming increasingly important to work together for our shared values and interests in the world. To deal with the big challenges we must agree on European sovereignty because our individual nations are not powerful enough. Let’s deal with the challenges and opportunities together as Europeans. Europe shall uphold multilateralism, human rights, sustainable development and peaceful conflict resolution.”

The manifesto of the Green Wing also aims to: fight climate change by phasing out coal and moving to 100% renewables; investing in a just green economy; fight air pollution; stop supporting agro-industry, ban the most poisonous pesticides; make trains a real alternative to planes by taxing flights more; a wide range of other environmental protection measures; invest in animal welfare; guarantee a minimum income; defend asylum and establish safe and legal channels for migration.

 

Manifesto Text on Brexit

None that I could see

 

Weblinks

Joint Green/ EFA Group website. Green website for 2019 elections. Manifesto of Green wing and Statement of Priorities. Spitzenkandidaten. Manifesto of the EFA wingConstituent Parties.

 

Party of European Socialists/ Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament

Supported in the UK by

Labour Party

Social Democratic and Labour Party (NI)

 

Some of the other parties that support this group

Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschland (Germany)

Partido Socialista Obrero Español - Spanish Socialist Workers' Party

Parti Socialiste (Spain)

 

Spitzenkandidat

Frans Timmermans is a Dutch politician and former diplomat serving since 2014 as First Vice-President of the European Commission and European Commissioner for Better Regulation, Inter-institutional Relations, the Rule of Law and the Charter of Fundamental Rights. 

 

Manifesto

Quotes are from the Party Group manifesto and the priorities of the Parliamentary Group.

A Europe of solidarity for the many, not the few. We will not bow to uncontrolled market forces and we will finally put an end to austerity policies.”

“Our societies are still bearing the social costs of the 2008 economic crisis, and we have urgent challenges to face. Europe needs to overcome inequality, fight for tax justice, tackle the threat of climate change, harness the digital revolution, ensure a fair agricultural transformation, manage migration better, and guarantee security for all Europeans. Europe needs a change of leadership and policy direction, leaving behind the neoliberal and conservative models of the past, and focusing on quality jobs for its people, a healthy environment, social security and an economic model which addresses inequality and the cost of living. The status quo is not an option. Radical change is required to build a project for the future which all Europeans can believe in.”

“Effective social dialogue and trade union membership are the best way to guarantee the protection of working people and increased wages.”

“A Social Action Plan is needed to turn the EU Pillar of Social Rights into binding rules that strengthen welfare systems, respect labour market models and improve living standards.”

The manifesto also calls for: reduction in inequality and stopping the concentration of wealth and property in the hands of a privileged few; all workers must have the same rights; a ban on zero-hours contracts; a strong European Labour Authority to combat social dumping; a long-term investment plan to prepare industries and workers to benefit from the green transition, the digital revolution and the growth of AI; a common European approach to ensure more tax justice; environmental protection and action on climate change; ensure EU has the tools to defend human rights and the rule of law in member states; a feminist Europe with equal rights for all; a European Child Guarantee to ensure every child has access to healthcare, childcare, education, housing and nutrition; Europe Day to be a public holiday.

 

Manifesto Text on Brexit

No reference

 

Weblinks

Party Group. Parliamentary Group.  Manifesto of the party and the priorities of the Parliamentary GroupSpitzenkandidat (also Wikipedia). Constituent Parties.

  

Other Groups and independents

European United Left/ Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) was supported by the UK Sinn Fein MEP, who identified herself as coming from Ireland.

Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy – supported by Brexit Party MEPs including Nigel Farage and by two MEPs who are ex-UKIP and now sit as independents.

Europe of Nations and Freedom – supported by some UKIP MEPs, including Gerard Batten UKIP Leader, and an ex-UKIP independent MEP.

In the 2014-19 Parliament, the DUP MEP, a UKIP MEP and an independent ex-UKIP MEP were not attached to a party group.

 

  

 

The London4Europe blogs page is edited by Vice-Chair Nick Hopkinson. Articles on this page reflect the views of the author not necessarily of London4Europe.