The European Conservatives and Reformists Group in the European Parliament was created in 2009 to campaign for what it calls ‘urgent reform of the European Union’. They believe it is time to make Europe work again: both economically and for its people. The European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECR) is a conservative, non-federalist political group in the European Parliament. The group currently comprises 57 MEPs, making it the fifth largest group in the Parliament. The British Conservatives – after leaving the European People’s Party – have been a member of this group in the European Parliament.
The ECR’s founding ideals are based on the Prague Declaration, which calls for an EU of openness, transparency, and particularly eurorealism. The eurorealism concept distinguishes the ECR’s agenda from the other political groups.
They say about themselves ‘We believe in a new direction for the EU, which does not destroy the organisation or undermine cooperation. However, we want to steer the EU away from the ideological march towards a European federal super state and towards a more flexible organisation that listens to and respects people in all of its member countries. Instead of clinging to outdated ideals of European integration we believe in equipping the EU with the practical solutions required to rise to today’s challenges. We want to make the EU open for trade, closer to its people, living within its means and delivering value, and respectful of the diversity across Europe. Above all, we want an EU of cooperation and common sense.’
Outside the European Parliament, the broader Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists (AECR) contains a number of parties, including governing parties of three EU Member States, and Prime Minister David Cameron.
As the AECR is an Alliance and not a joined up Party made up of member parties, it has not published a joint election manifesto. In April 2014 it published what it calls ‘The Reykjavik Declaration’ which states
- The Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists (AECR) brings together parties committed to individual liberty, national sovereignty, parliamentary democracy, the rule of law, private property, low taxes, sound money, free trade, open competition, and the devolution of power.
- AECR believes in a Europe of independent nations, working together for mutual gain while each retaining its identity and integrity.
- AECR is committed to the equality of all European democracies, whatever their size, and regardless of which international associations they join.
- AECR favours the exercise of power at the lowest practicable level – by the individual where possible, by local or national authorities in preference to supranational bodies.
- AECR understands that open societies rest upon the dignity and autonomy of the individual, who should be as free as possible from state coercion. The liberty of the individual includes freedom of religion and worship, freedom of speech and expression, freedom of movement and association, freedom of contract and employment, and freedom from oppressive, arbitrary or punitive taxation.
- AECR recognises the equality of all citizens before the law, regardless of ethnicity, sex or social class. It rejects all forms of extremism, authoritarianism and racism.
- AECR cherishes the important role of civil associations, families and other bodies that fill the space between the individual and the government.
- AECR acknowledges the unique democratic legitimacy of the nation-state.
- AECR is committed to the spread of free commerce and open competition, in Europe and globally.
- AECR supports the principles of the Prague Declaration of March 2009 and the work of the European Conservatives and Reformists in the European Parliament and allied groups on the other European assemblies.
Member Parties of this Group include the following: