Macron slams ‘defeatist’ attitudes used towards EU
And Raffaele Fitto, co-chairman of the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) groups, also took a swipe at “federalists” whom he said retained ambitions to creating a “European superstate”. The Conference on the Future of Europe, which was the brainchild of French President Emmanuel Macron, is intended to provide a “roadmap” for the EU with the help of widespread consultations with its citizens.
Mr Fitto, fellow co-chairman Ryszard Legutko, and conservative party leaders Jarosław Kaczyński (PiS, Poland), Giorgia Meloni (FdI, Italy) and Santiago Abascal Conde (Vox, Spain), met in Warsaw yesterday to discuss the project.
Specifically, they pledged to defend the idea of a Europe of Nations free from “unnecessary bureaucracy and further transfers of sovereignty to Brussels”, an ECR statement issued today explained.
They also announced plans for further talks, with the possibility of a joint declaration spelling out their position.
Emmanuel Macron addresses the Conference in Strasbourg
Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission
Speaking after the meeting, Mr Fitto said: “We conservatives who want to preserve our national democracies are concerned that the Conference on the Future of Europe, organised by the European Institutions, is not framed impartially and simply used as another opportunity to promote left-wing ideas and the usual federalist agenda of forming a European super-state.
“We are open to taking part in this debate, but call on the political leadership of the Conference to take the political balance more seriously.
“Otherwise, the Conference will fail and bring more discord to Europe than good.”
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Emmanuel Macron, Ursula von der Leyen and others at the event
Mr Fitto stressed: “Our idea of Europe is different than that of the federalists: Our shared values champion the family as the bedrock of society, the sovereign integrity of the nation-state, opposition to EU federalism, and a renewed respect for true subsidiarity, as well as freedom of the individual, and greater democratic accountability.”
As such, he emphasised the need for “effectively controlled immigration” as well as of ending “the abuse of asylum procedures”.
He added: “We consider these goals sensible and ask that they be considered, as well.”
Meanwhile, Mr Legutko said: “The limits of the European Union’s competences are set by the principle of conferral: all competences not conferred on the Union belong to the member states.
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Raffaele Fitto, co-chairman of the ECR group
Ryszard Legutko is the ECR group’s other co-chairman
It is clear to us that we have to say: Up to here and no further
“We believe that consensus should remain the basic means of reaching a common position in the EU.
“In recent years, we have seen the political spectrum in the European Parliament shift further to the left.
“We need a conservative renaissance, including a great and united team to defend those values that define our nations, societies, and continent.
“It is clear to us that we have to say: Up to here and no further.”
Emmanuel Macron factfile
Speaking at the Conference’s inaugural event in Strasbourg on May 9, Mr Macron said: “We should be honest that the Conference is not a panacea or a solution to every problem.
“And we must listen to all voices – whether critical or complimentary – and ensure that we properly follow up on whatever is agreed.
“But I do believe that this Conference is a real opportunity to bring Europeans together and to rally around a common ambition for our future just as previous generations did.
“And we should also not underestimate the power of good that it could do – for people individually and for society as a whole.”
Guy Verhofstadt, the frequent Brexit critic, is a strong advocate of the initiative
He added: “The point is that the EU must be whatever Europeans want it to be.
“Of course, the start of the Conference is not the time to predict or prescribe outcomes. But there are certain dichotomies and issues that we should attempt to resolve.
“For example, some feel Europe is too close and too involved in their lives. For others it is too far remote or too detached.
“This is an opportunity for Europeans to help find the right balance.”