Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

EU Constitution and the Irish Presidency

Delivered in Plenary - January 28th 2004

Mr President

As someone who is at least a quarter Irish, I welcome Ireland’s presidency.

Mr Barón Crespo is right: the British Conservatives do not mourn the demise of the European Union constitutional project and we give thanks for Spanish and Polish intransigence. As a document it was far too centralising and federalist in content for our taste, far too long and both prescriptive and inflexible. We say ‘RIP’. However, I hope that Ireland’s historic relations with the United States will serve to promote, if not a full, free trade EU-USA agreement - now that the WTO, post-Cancun, is fatally wounded - at least a common economic space for trade in goods and services, particularly financial services.

Much more also needs to be done to implement the Lisbon agenda, as we see Germany now saddled by a deep recession. This is not helped by an overvalued euro and a one-size-fits-all monetary policy. With the Commission now taking it to court over the breaches of the stability and growth pact, Germany is effectively hoisted by its own petard.

With enlargement, these six months will be great ones. I wish the Irish presidency all the luck for which its people are so famous.