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Founded in 1976

The European People’s Party (EPP) is the political family of the centre-right, whose roots run deep in the history and civilisation of the European continent and which has pioneered the European project from its inception. Tracing back its roots to Europe’s Founding Fathers – Robert SCHUMAN, Alcide DE GASPERI, and Konrad ADENAUER – the EPP is committed to a strong Europe based on a federal model that relies on the principle of subsidiarity.

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Founded in 1976, the EPP strives for a democratic, transparent and efficient Europe that is close to its citizens. The EPP wants a prosperous Europe through the promotion of a free market economy with a social consciousness. The EPP is the EU’s centre-right party and its largest and most influential political family. The EPP currently includes 77 parties and partners from 41 countries, the Presidents of the European Commission, the European Council, and of the European Parliament, 8 EU and 5 non-EU heads of state and government, 14 members of the European Commission and the largest Group in the European Parliament.

The EPP is governed under the 2003 “EU Regulation on political parties at European level and the rules regarding their funding.” In late 2007, this Regulation was revised in order to allow all European level political parties to campaign for the European Parliament elections. As a result of this mandate, the EPP conducted – in close cooperation with its national member-parties – its first Europe-wide campaign for the June 2009 elections and reinforced its leading position in the European Parliament.

Lessons and Experiences of cooperation

Political formations of the centre-right can be tracked back to the early 1920s. The first attempt at cooperation between like-minded Christian Democrats was made in 1926, when the International Secretariat of Democratic Parties of Christian Inspiration (Secrétariat International des Partis Démocratiques d’Inspiration Chrétienne, SIPDIC) was founded.

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The lessons and experiences of cooperation between 1925 and 1939 were key when leaders of the re-established or newly founded Christian Democratic parties in Europe formed the New International Teams (Nouvelles Équipes Internationales, NEI) in 1946 after World War II.

From the middle of the 1950s onwards the NEI lost relevance. With the European Coal and Steel Community and the foundation of the European Economic Community (EEC), practical cooperation among Christian Democrats gradually shifted in favour of the framework presented by the Common Assembly and the European Parliament. The organisation revitalised itself by changing its name to the European Union of Christian Democrats (EUCD) and revising the key aims of the organisation. The EUCD forged a closer relationship with the Parliamentary group of European Christian Democrats and the national member parties, and steadily grew more ambitious in its vision for Europe. With the decision to organise direct elections for the European Parliament in 1979, the need for a truly European party became evident.

EPP's Establishment

The formal establishment of the European People’s Party (EPP) took place in 1976 in Luxembourg, with member parties from the following EEC countries: Belgium, Germany, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, with Belgian PM Leo Tindemans as its first president. The platform was the result of considerable consensus and expressed a common intention to promote integration in the context of the European Community, leading to a political union equipped with federal and democratic institutions.

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Once the EPP had been founded, a degree of pressure to establish formal links between Christian Democratic and conservative forces was exerted by EUCD parties in countries that were not European Community members. Yet the EPP’s strong insistence on the federal model of European integration led to the formation of the European Democratic Union (EDU), a broader pan-European organisation. Thus three parallel political organisations of Christian Democrats and conservatives were now in place.

However, the EPP soon politically outweighed the EUCD. The issue of merging the two organisations re-surfaced when Spain and Portugal joined the European Community in 1986, but the revolutionary events which took place in Moscow and in other Eastern European capitals delayed the idea of a “big” EP

Like-Minded forces

In April 1991, party and government leaders of the EPP decided that, while the party would be open to the British and Nordic conservative parties, Christian Democracy would be preserved as the cornerstone of the EPP’s identity. The EPP needed to integrate like-minded forces in order to achieve the majority needed to make ideas and concepts a reality.

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In April 1991, party and government leaders of the EPP decided that, while the party would be open to the British and Nordic conservative parties, Christian Democracy would be preserved as the cornerstone of the EPP’s identity. The EPP needed to integrate like-minded forces in order to achieve the majority needed to make ideas and concepts a reality.

With the prospect of Central and Eastern European countries joining the European Union (EU), the previous arguments supporting EUCD membership lost relevance – this led to the merger of the EUCD with the EPP in 1999. And since the EPP had accepted most European conservative parties from the EU and beyond, the EDU also lost relevance, leading to its merger with the EPP in 2002.

In the second part of the decade, the EPP’s enlargement efforts have focused on supporting centre-right, reformist national parties in their efforts to consolidate democracy and the rule of law. Parties have been accepted from Moldova, Georgia and Armenia.

The development of the EPP has reflected that of the EU itself; the inclusion of centre-right parties from accession countries in Central and Eastern Europe has been particularly successful. The new members have brought a new dimension to the EPP and consolidated it as the pre-eminent European force of the centre-right.