|Vol.7, No.46, 13.12.01, p6
British Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith will hold "clear-the-air" talks with European People's Party president Hans-Gert Pöttering tonight
(13 December) over fears that the UK opposition wants to cool links with its allies in Brussels.
The meeting follows the leaking of a letter from Duncan Smith to Pöttering in which the Tory chief calls on the EPP to end its support for deeper European Union integration in favour of a more eurosceptic policy.
The British Conservatives are demanding almost complete autonomy from their European parliamentary allies as the price of a continued link with the EPP. They are also calling for the EPP to reduce its spending on support for europhile causes. Duncan Smith writes in the letter that without changes to the existing arrangement, the Conservatives' position "would politically prove increasingly untenable".
The Conservatives, who style themselves as European Democrats in the European Parliament, are not full members of the EPP. Under former leader William Hague, they won the right to vote against the group position when it failed to coincide with their own.
In his letter, Duncan Smith said this compromise was no longer sufficient.
Pöttering, however, insists he wants to stick to the previous arrangement. He said he hoped to "get clarification" of Duncan Smith's position at a pre-Laeken meeting of EU Conservatives.
UK Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith will hold 'clear-the-air' talks with European People's Party president Hans-Gert Pöttering on 13 December 2001 over fears that the UK opposition wants to cool links with its allies in Brussels.
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