Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Programme of the British Presidency

Delivered in Plenary - June 23rd 2005

Mr President

The EU is in crisis in terms of direction and legitimacy, and Mr Blair is now under challenge to fill the leadership vacuum, with Mr Chirac and Mr Schröder weakened domestically and probably on their way out.

The UK is right to question the entire EU budget architecture based on a distorted, wasteful common agricultural policy, which harms developing world farmers. Our rebate will never be given up until the CAP is radically reformed, with the funds freed up, used to address modern priorities like research and development, combating climate change and external action funding to stabilise the Western Balkans, help Eastern European countries like Ukraine and fledgling democracies in the Middle East such as Iraq. This is happening at a time when the US is anxious to mend fences with the EU and needs our help.

As a priority, I hope that Britain will put the roadmap for Arab-Israeli peace back on the agenda and combat nuclear proliferation in Iran and North Korea. I support EU enlargement with a wider, looser flexible Europe. I welcome the proverbial Polish plumber and recognise that the new countries are driving the economic reformist agenda.

We are now committed to Romania and Bulgaria. As much as I support Ukraine’s EU aspirations, we have not carried Europe’s public with us on enlargement. I hope the UK will emphasise human rights violations in brutal regimes such as Burma and Zimbabwe. As a Commonwealth country, we have a very special influence on these countries in Africa.

At the summit meeting with Russia, it will need reminding of its obligations in Chechnya and must be made to understand that it must respect the sovereignty of its former satellites such as Ukraine. In the case of Moldova and Georgia, it should be encouraged to withdraw its troops.

Mr Blair, you might also might want to use some of your goodwill with Turkey to resolve the Armenia embargo and border issue. Lastly, we must maintain the arms embargo on China, with its lamentable human rights record and threats to Taiwan. Certainly, building a multi-polar world with China and the EU as a counterweight to the US should play no part in this issue.