Europe needs liberals now more than ever. The shared challenges we face are ones that can only be tackled when like-minded people across Europe work together: how to create jobs, particularly for our young people, and bring back prosperity; how to tackle climate change and build the new, green economies we need for our future.
For the rest of his speech, click here.
This was followed by a passionate speech by Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the ALDE group in the European Parliament;
The European Union is in essence a liberal project. A full single market, more free trade, a European democratic government, full respect for human rights and civil liberties that is the essence of our view on Europe.
Meanwhile, in elections to the Bureau, and under the gentle guidance of the first ever jobshare Returning Officers, Daniel Obst and Mark Valladares, there were victories for Roman Jakic, re-elected as Treasurer with 347 votes out of the 360 cast, for Dick Roche (Fianna Fail, Ireland) and Ramona Manescu (PNL, Romania) as Vice-Presidents and, for Flo Clucas, the new president of the European Liberal Women’s Network.
And, in a story familiar to those who have been members of the Liberal Democrats for more than twenty years, there was the great name change debate. Despite some unease about the possible rationale, the name of the Party was changed from ELDR to ALDE (the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in Europe) with 266 votes in favour and seven against.
The Congress was closed by Sir Graham Watson, who noted;
The great tribes of Europe are more inventive together than apart. If people persist in harking back to independent nations, it is partly because we have not engaged them enough in the day to day business of Europe. A Liberal society can only be governed with the comprehension and consent of the citizen.
* Mark Valladares was rather surprised to be re-elected to the ELDR Council Delegation and would like to thank all of you who voted for him.