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Hans-Gert Pöttering

centre and centre-right forces in the European Union—and, looking ahead, in the future EU Member States—within a major people’s party. With this successful policy of openness, which was also the result of effective interaction between the Party and the Group, the Group was able to acquire the structural capacity to achieve majorities and set a course towards becoming the largest political group. The joint efforts to integrate new political forces of the centre and the centre-right were successfully carried out both by the Group and by the Party. With the accession to the EPPED Group of the Members of the European Parliament of the French Rassemblement pour la République (RPR) in 1999, the French Gaullists set out on the way leading to their inclusion in the EPP family, which was completed in 2001 with their membership in the Party. Similarly, the good cooperation with the MEPs of Forza Italia within the Group since 1999 led to membership in the Party. Doubts that had at first been expressed within the EPP about the membership of Forza Italia could be cleared up not least due to the reliability of the new Italian members of the Group. The latest example of successful integration is that of the Portuguese Centro Democratico Social - Partido Popular, whose MEPs have been part of the Group since 2004 and have recently joined the EPP part of the Group, whilst the party itself will soon become an EPP member party as well. As in the case of the 15 ‘old’ EU Member States, there was a need, ahead of the historic accession of ten countries from Central and Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean, for renewed cooperation—tailored to the specific political circumstances—and for the integration of the parties of these countries into the EPP and the EPP-ED Group. The preparatory work was undertaken inter alia within the framework of the European Union of Christian Democrats (EUCD), which has been part of the EPP since 1996 as the Working Group on “Enlargement and EPP Membership”. This work was of critical importance for our political family ahead of the

2004 ‘enlargement’ European elections. During these years, the Working Group on Enlargement became the political forum for cooperation in the form of seminars, conferences and information exchanges. It thus prepared the ground for the future success of our political family and secured the Group’s position as the largest political group in the European Parliament. Alongside the work of the EPP, which focussed on party connections, the EPP-ED Group worked hard as early as the 1994-1999 parliamentary term to establish dynamic convergences at the parliamentary level. The Group established joint working groups with politically close groupings in the parliaments of the candidate countries; latterly, similar working groups were established within the framework of the Convention on the Future of Europe. As the dates for the national accession referenda approached, the Group stepped up its efforts and developed a comprehensive information and political training strategy for these countries. The 2004 European elections highlighted the success of this political work undertaken in the accession countries, and demonstrated the key importance of a coordinated approach by the EPP and the EPPED Group to ensure the dynamics and ability of our political family to secure parliamentary majorities. As a result of this coordinated process of opening up, which was carried out in parallel by the EPP and the EPP-ED Group—a political Group which embraces all 25 countries of the enlarged EU—the membership of the Party and the Group is, in all but a few exceptions, the same. In essence, the difference in membership of the Party and the Group is limited to the British Conservatives and the Czech ODS, which are members of the Group under Article 5 of the Rules of Procedure of the EPP-ED Group, but not members of the EPP Party. Practical approaches cooperation



The last thirty years of shared history has

Volume 3 - Spring 2006


European View_Transnational parties and european democracy  

European View_Transnational parties and european democracy

European View_Transnational parties and european democracy  

European View_Transnational parties and european democracy