In my capacity as one of Liberal Democrat Voice’s foreign correspondents, I’ve been covering ELDR events for a few years now. So, why might you be interested, and how do you get to go to an ELDR Congress?
The annual Congress of the European Liberal Democrats (ELDR) is an opportunity for liberals from across Europe, including beyond the European Union, to discuss the issues of the day, and to get a sense of how liberals in the European Parliament are responding to them. Delegates get to debate with parliamentarians, take part in sessions with Commissioners and leading academics and, perhaps of most interest, contribute to policy making in key areas of European Parliament activity.
For example, in Barcelona two years ago, you might have heard Professor Dominick Salvatore highlight the failure of mainland European nations to address the under-capitalisation of their banks, relative to the United States and United Kingdom, a fact that will not be lost on observers of Dexia. In Dresden in May, the Slovak delegate noted the intention of his party, part of the government, to oppose any proposals for a European Stabilisation Fund, now called the European Financial Stability Facility. Guess which nation hasn’t signed up yet…
This year’s Congress takes place in Palermo, Sicily, from 23-25 November, and the theme is “A budget for Europe: liberal priorities for the EU budget 2014-2020″, a matter of some importance given the current fiscal environment. There will also be a rather timely session entitled “Strengthening Europe’s single currency: what next for the Euro?” – this, of course, assumes that things haven’t got even worse by then. From the perspective of election buffs, a new President will be elected, as the current incumbent, Annemie Neyts-Uyttebroeck MEP, is term-limited. Given that the electorate is formed by Congress delegates, and that the United Kingdom delegation is now the largest within ELDR, Liberal Democrats represent a key bloc of votes to be wooed by any credible candidate.
Unfortunately, there is no financial support for delegates, either from ELDR, or from the Party. However, should you be interested, how do you get involved?
The delegation is made up of, if my calculations based on the ELDR internal regulations are correct, sixty-three members, some of whom are our members of ELDR Council, directly elected by Conference (and thank you, those of you who kindly voted for me last time), and others elected by various bodies. However, there may still be plenty of scope for people to get involved, and if you contact me at markv233[AT]aol[DOT]com, I’ll ensure that your details are passed on.
I will admit that Palermo isn’t the easiest place to get to in Europe, with no direct flights on anyone other than Ryanair (hmmm…) or Easyjet, and with Alitalia providing one of the least helpful airline websites ever, but you might just find that it’s worth the effort.
* Mark Valladares is a member of the ELDR Council, which makes a nice change from the View from Creeting St Peter, his blog.