Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Legislation by Fax

The Daily Telegraph - October 9th 2004

Sir

The robust Conservative policies on relations with the EU are not aiming at European Economic Area (EEA) or European Free Trade Agreement (EFTA) status, as enjoyed by Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland (letter, Oct 7). This is precisely because they suffer from "legislation by fax" imposed on them, over which they have had no say.

In order to benefit from the EU single market, they even have to pay substantial sums into the EU budget. This explains why all mainstream parties in Norway and Switzerland support eventual EU membership. Instead, the Conservatives remain committed to full EU membership with Britain retaining full legislative co-decision powers.

After we are re-elected to government, we will insist at our first inter-governmental conference that certain aspects of the EU treaties that are not part of the single market requirement be renegotiated, in particular repatriating the Common Fisheries Policy, substantial parts of the EU overseas aid budget and reverting to the Social Chapter opt-out which Tony Blair recklessly gave away in 1997. This flexible Europe is already operating successfully. We in Britain, for example, enjoy differing arrangements outside the euro zone and the Schengen agreement on control of our borders.

The policy that Michael Bryan attacks is in fact that espoused by the UK Independence Party. It would be sad if Margaret Thatcher's dream of a "wider, looser Europe" were to be lost, just as it has a real chance of success, because significant numbers of former Conservatives wasted their vote by voting UKIP at the next general election.

Charles Tannock MEP
UK Conservative Foreign Affairs Spokesman in the European Parliament, Brussels