>Anti-federalist Euro-faction formed… in 2009

> So, reports the BBC, the new Tory led anti-federalist faction in the European Parliament at last sees the light of day! It will be called the Movement for European Reform and will consist of the Tories and their loyalist and most acceptable ally, the Czech Civic Democrats (ODS). Except, of course, that it won’t probably ever see the light of day. It will be formed only in 2009 after the next Euro-elections, when the political situation be quite different, and will be more likely to be quietly forgotten. Apart from anything else, the proposed ODS/Tory tandem lacks members for the requisite number of EU states to be officially recognised as a group in the EP. The Daily Telegraph’s Brussels correspondent David Rennie has a well informed blog covering some of the specific ins and outs of whole saga including relations between ODS, PiS and the Tories, which – when one filters out the obsessional anti-EU tub thumping (this is the Telegraph, after all) – also also some interesting thoughts posted as comments.

However, neither ODS nor the Tories seem that interested in the MER. Despite the BBC headlines, the joint declaration by Cameron and ODS leader Topolánek announcing the ‘formation’ of the MEF is almost impossible to find on neither party’s website – although I eventually located a Czech language version, Cameron’s speech on the MER – full of vacuous one liners that doubtless come across better as sound bites – and an ‘explanatory note’ on the group, which stresses its role as a ‘forum’, whose discussion and co-ordination activities will also be open to both EPP members and non-members, so it may in fact exist some vague preparatory form. Such a non-event serves its political purpose, however. Cameron (sort of) fulfils his leadership election promise using Czech reservations as an excuse to in fact not do anything and so doesn’t have to deal with recalcitrant Europhile Tory MEPs opposed to the plan. No ‘nutters’ – whatever happened to the Polish Law and Justice Party? – are brought into the picture and Topolánek can get on with the – still seemingly impossible – task of forming a government in Prague with hands free to deal with europhile parties. The big loser – despite upbeat insistence that all in the ‘euro-realist’ garden is rosy (MFD, 10 July) – is Jan Zahradil, a man not likely to give up on his ‘euro-realist’ ambitions or indeed more personal ones to lead his party, however.

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