President of the new political party to the Committee of the Regions (CoR), Cllr Gordon Keymer (UK/ECR), member of Tandridge District Council, officially presented the establishment of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECR) during the 100th CoR Plenary. He underlines why the ECR was created and details its key political objectives for the future in how it can help represent Europe's regions and cities.
What are the ECR's guiding principles and its main political objectives?
The European Conservatives and Reformists Group in the CoR is the first to have been set up during a CoR mandate as opposed to the beginning of the mandate. I believe the new group will be a major addition to the CoR in providing new ideas and thinking while strongly supporting those who live and work in our communities. Sometimes the debate in the CoR can become too dominated by European politics. The ECR CoR Group aims to get back to the fundamental reason why the CoR was set up - to represent the views of local and regional government to the European Parliament, European Commission and Council of Ministers.
In what way will the ECR contribute to representing Europe's regions and cities?
The ECR Group in the CoR is made up of local and regional politicians working together within the Committee of the Regions to:
The ECR Group will scrutinise draft EU legislation to consider its effects on local and regional government comparing the benefits to the costs. It will question whether the legislation is required and, if it is, whether the lightest touch necessary has been proposed.
The Group will also lead on the importance and benefits of strong local and regional government including drafting own initiative opinions, taking part in seminars and generally using every opportunity to promote thriving local government in our countries.
How and in what ways will the ECR be involved in supporting the year's European Elections?
One of the major strengths of the new group is its connection with the ECR Group in the European Parliament. They have given valuable help in the formation of the new group and I am keen to ensure that we build on that connection for a stronger relationship with our MEPs. We shall therefore be campaigning hard in the European elections for the ECR candidates so that they have even larger numbers in the European Parliament in 2014.
Starting a new group in the middle of a mandate is a challenge for CoR members and staff. I know the end result will be well worth the work involved.