Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists (AECR): History, Politics & Influence

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  • 0:02 AECR
  • 0:38 History
  • 1:16 Politics
  • 3:56 Performance
  • 4:43 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Christopher Sailus

Chris has an M.A. in history and taught university and high school history.

In this lesson, we explore the short history and political ideals of the Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists, one of the European Union's newest political parties.

Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists

Were you old enough to vote in 2008? Even if you weren't, chances are you at least remember parts of what was an exciting political campaign, when Barack Obama rode to victory on politically charged messages of 'hope' and 'change.' This vague idealism tapped into deeply held American sentiment at the time that the federal government needed to change for the better. At about the same time in Europe, a new political party attempted to tap into the same sentiments concerning the European Union (EU), only from the opposite end of the political spectrum, with the formation of the right of center Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists.

History

The Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists (or AECR) has a relatively short history, having only been founded on October 1st, 2009. The AECR was founded entirely by right-wing MEPs already elected to the European Parliament after the 2009 parliamentary elections, who set out their founding principles in a document named 'The Prague Declaration.' The AECR quickly gained influence and new members who were already MEPs, or Members of the European Parliament. For example, the chairman of the influential Internal Market Committee, Malcolm Harbour, is a card-carrying AECR member.

Politics

Just how did the AECR become such an influential force so quickly? In part, by adopting a political platform that called for much of the reform which right-wing parties were advocating, but also by tempering their stances to appeal to a wider base of the European population. Nonetheless, AECR politics is still firmly based in Euroskepticism.

Euroskepticism represents the prevailing sentiment among some European conservative political groups that further European integration is not only unnecessary but possibly harmful to individual member nations. According to Euroskeptics, not only does EU integration encroach upon the political sovereignty of each nation, but the growth of supranational EU institutions threatens democracy across Europe. Though some Euroskeptic organizations call for the complete abolition of the EU, the AECR does not.

The AECR believes that further EU integration should be halted, and in some cases EU institutions should be dismantled and the EU's reach limited. However, the AECR explicitly states it believes in the necessity of some form of supranational EU government. Some commentators term this unique viewpoint 'soft Euroskepticism,' but the AECR prefers to call it 'Eurorealism.'

In its short time, the AECR has already influenced European politics by growing rapidly and becoming a formidable party that largely votes together. Through pressure exerted in many EU institutions, the AECR claims it has influenced the reduction of EU spending, making the budget more 'rational' by reducing spending over the next seven years by roughly 35 billion Euros. At the same time, the AECR has also vehemently campaigned against further taxes.

The AECR also opposes EU resource management. This is most easily seen through the AECR's influence in removing central control of EU fisheries. Prior to the AECR's campaign to end central control, the EU government in Brussels determined how much of each species of marine wildlife could be caught in EU waters. After the AECR campaign, the EU-imposed limits were removed with the promise that new limits would be determined locally. Additionally, the AECR has worked to deregulate the oil and gas exploration industry.

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