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The breaking news coming from the Parliament is that a deal has been brokered to make the so-called European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) the fourth largest group in the hemicycle.
David Cameron’s decision to pull the UK Tory MEPs out of the EPP was a controversial one and proved to be the catalyst for the formation of the new group. Doubts had been raised as to whether the new group could reach the allocated number of seats necessary, namely 25 MEPs from 7 different Member States. However the total comes in at 55 MEPs from 8 different countries, and, as expected, the bulk of the members are the 26 British Conservatives MEPs, 15 MEPs from the Polish Law and Justice Party and 9 MEPs from the Czech Civic Democratic Party.
How will this change the dynamics in the Parliament? Well, it remains likely that the ECR will side with the EPP on most major policy issues to form a powerful centre-right coalition. It will also mean that there is a more unified, anti-federalist voice in the Parliament.
Interesting to note that the announcement comes on the same day that the new Speaker of the UK House of Commons will be revealed. Much has been made of the rather dubious policies of some of their new group partners – are the Tories hoping that news of the ECR gets lost in press coverage about the new Speaker?
Today, the Senate of the Czech Republic approved the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, de facto making President Vaclav Klaus the last line of defence against the Czech ratification of the Lisbon Treaty.
In an official TV statement, Vaclav Klaus immediately railed at those senators who “betray national interests” and made it clear that the ratification process was far from over. Klaus however did not say he would not sign. But it seems likely that he will wait until the very last moment – when he knows what the other pieces in the game (the Irish and the Polish) are doing.
As the controversial political figure likes to repeat “a good chess player never reveals his next move”