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Tuesday, May 25, 1999 Published at 13:32 GMT 14:32 UK


Conservative Party



The Conservative Party

Manifesto: "In Europe, not run by Europe."

"The Conservative approach to Europe is based on sound principles and common sense. We believe in less interference from politicians at every level - including those in Europe. We want a Europe which is flexible, not rigid, which is diverse, not uniform."

"We support co-operation with out partners in Europe on such vital matters as environmental protection, reducing barriers to trade, promoting jobs and prosperity, and tackling international crime. But we believe there should be limits to European integration, and that we are near those limits now."

The euro

The Conservative Party has ruled out joining the euro for the duration of this and the next Parliament.

The party believes the "balance sheet for membership" is "much less favourable for Britain than for her partners. That is why Britain should not consider joining the single currency until it has been tested in bad times as well as good."

Regulation

"Conservatives know that red tape costs jobs. A clear plan to stop unnecessary regulation is needed."


  • "We will press for an independent authority, outside the European Commission, to be mandated to take over the existing compliance cost responsibilities of the commission, and to take account of the wider economic costs of any new measure. This should be done without increasing cost."
  • "We will also press for this authority to conduct a Europe-wide audit of the effect on employment of social and other regulations already introduced."
  • "These findings should be taken into account in deciding whether new measures should be introduced, or existing measures amended or repealed."
  • This new independent body must work out the cost to countries of all new regulations or directives the commission considers.
    ·"We will press for the commission to consider the extent to which existing legislation in any area has been complied with before coming up with new proposals."
  • "We will press for an independent mechanism to be established to consider cases where official bodies have over-implemented or otherwise misapplied regulations."
  • The party will set up a "deregulation commission" to find new ways of cutting EU regulation.

    Tax harmonisation

    "We will oppose all new European directives on tax harmonisation."

    Competition

  • The Conservative Party will "make the European Commission 'name and shame' those countries which still unfairly subsidise their industries with tax payers' money . . . We will press for a 'state aid scoreboard' to be published each year."
  • "We will press for the competition policy responsibilities of the commission to be entrusted to a new, independent competition authority at European level."

    Institutional reform

    "Failure to tackle fraud and misuse of public money has led to a crisis in Europe. It is time for a complete clean-up of Europe's institutions. And it is time for Europe to do less, but do it better."

    The Conservatives propose:

  • A new independent Anti-Fraud Office should be created in Brussels.
  • The European Parliament's Budgetary Control Committee should get powers to call for persons and papers from the commission.
  • The European Parliament should have the power to dismiss individual commissioners for maladministration or fraud.
  • European Commissioners should be personally responsible in EU law for money administered by them.
  • Commissioners and senior commission staff should be subject to a binding code of conduct, and declarations of financial interest must be more widely available.
  • The appointment of officials must be subject to a code of conduct to combat nepotism.
  • Staff regulations of EU officials must be reformed.
  • "The right for commissioners to control directorates-general for which they are responsible should be strengthened to end the war between commissioners and their services revealed in the recent independent report on fraud".
  • "The number of directorates-general in the European Commission should be reduced, so that no commissioner is responsible for more than one DG, and the commission president's oversight responsibility for administrative reform should also be strengthened".
  • Senior commission staff should be subject to a "systematic career management and rotation policy".

    'A Europe for consumers'

    "The European single market, pioneered by British Conservatives in the 1980s, stands as an example to the world of what can be done to remove barriers to trade and encourage competition . . . But there is still much more to be done to create a proper 'Europe for consumers'."

  • The Conservatives will "press for more to be done to complete the single market, promoting competition and helping residents to trade and shop throughout Europe".
  • Duty free must be protected.
  • European air routes must be opened to greater competition, to lead to lower fares across Europe.
  • The party will oppose moves to "harmonise charges for the use of roads, railways, ports and air traffic services". A new "BRIT disc" for lorries should be introduced and displayed by all trucks travelling in the UK, so overseas lorries pay for the use of UK roads.
  • The party will oppose plans to apply the European working-time directive to the UK's transport industry.

    'A Europe closer to its citizens'

    "We propose a fundamental review of EU bureaucracy, with leaner, fitter institutions closer to the citizen."

    The Conservatives will press for:

  • More information to be made available to Europe's citizens so they know what is going on in EU institutions.
  • Greater openness in the way MEPs and officials work. MEPs must declare financial or commercial interests in any matter being discussed in the European Parliament, and a body to oversee standards in EU public life should be established.
  • Subsidiarity to be strengthened through a new treaty provision on the application of subsidiarity in the interpretation of European law.
  • A new subsidiarity panel to be set up to screen draft EU laws.
  • UK government ministers to report to the House of Commons their intended positions in advance of European Council meetings.
  • The Treaty of the European Court of Justice to be changed to prevent the court from extending the powers of the other EU institutions.

    The Conservatives will press for unnecessary bureaucracy in Europe to be eliminated by:

  • Reviewing the position of the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions.
  • Proposing a fundamental review of committees and bodies.

    The Conservatives oppose:

  • Any extension of qualified majority voting in the Council of ministers.
  • Any move by regional development agencies or nominated regional chambers to "bypass Westminster in their dealings with Brussels".

    'A better deal for Britain'

    "If Europe started to do less and to do it better, it would need less money from the British taxpayer."

  • "At the Berlin summit in March, Europe's leaders failed to reform the EU budget and the inequitable way it is financed. The EU budget and Britain's annual contribution to it will both continue to increase in the years to 2006." Conservative MEPs "will look for ways of reducing the size of the overall budget and obtaining a more equitable system of funding it".
  • Scottish and Welsh Conservative MEPs "will work closely with the Westminster and Scottish Parliaments and the Welsh Assembly, to make sure that the voices of Scotland and Wales are heard. Conservatives will defend the Union as the best way to get a fair deal for Scotland and Wales."

    To secure a fair deal for British farmers, the Conservatives will press for:

  • European regulations to not discriminate against British farmers, and that the UK government does not "over-implement" regulations.
  • Reform of labelling regulations to show country of origin and method of production.
  • Further reform of the Common Agricultural Policy.
  • An immediate end to tobacco subsidies.
  • The removal of remaining obstacles to British beef exports, and an end to the beef-on-the-bone ban in the UK.

    To secure a fair deal for British fishermen the Conservatives will seek:

  • An end to current Common Fisheries Policy arrangements.
  • To reform the Common Fisheries Policy by devolving power to national, regional and local levels.
  • National or local control to be established over our own waters through "zonal management, coastal management or in some other way".

    'An outward-looking Europe'

    "Europe is going slow on enlargement because it still fails to recognise the need to change itself, to make its procedures more flexible, and to cut costs."

    The Conservatives will:

  • Work for EU enlargement to be given a top priority once again.
  • Press for all the new democracies and countries of the Mediterranean to enjoy complete free trade with the European Union by 2010 - whether by EU membership or a free trade area.
  • Seek an alliance between the EU and the North Atlantic Free Trade Area, to extend the free-trade zone across the Atlantic.
  • Press the EU to work for a further strengthening of the World Trade Organisation.
  • Press for Europe to adopt the target of global, tariff-free trade by the year 2020.

    Co-operation on defence and foreign affairs

    The Conservatives will

  • "Strongly resist" any move towards the UK giving up its veto on defence and foreign affairs.
  • Press for a more efficient, more targeted and less bureaucratic EU development policy.
  • Press, wherever appropriate, for optimum use to be made of non-governmental organisations.
  • Seek urgent reform to EU aid budget controls.

    Immigration, justice and home affairs

    The Conservatives will

  • "Oppose resolutely moves towards the creation of a Europe-wide criminal justice system."
  • "Resist any attempt to develop a common immigration policy for the EU as a whole."

    Protecting the environment and promoting animal welfare

    The Conservatives will

  • Press for practical, cost-effective strategies to raise environmental standards.
  • Stand up for the interests of rural Britain.
  • Press for animal welfare standards to be incorporated in all the new rules for giving direct payments to farmers across Europe, under the revised CAP arrangements.
  • Press for the speedy implementation of the already-agreed ban on the testing of cosmetics on animals.



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