Tag Archives: europe

Fraser Nelson is wrong: Cameron’s supposed EU re-negotiation allies are set on a very different path

european union starsLike so many Eurosceptics, Fraser Nelson was at it again this morning in the Telegraph: taking a couple of things they heard from foreign politicians and adding it all up to make something that matches exactly what they want: less Brussels.

Nelson was continuing his theme from the Spectator a couple of weeks ago, describing a Northern Alliance Cameron had been building to reform the European Union in his image. There is one problem with all that: it simply is not true.

In the UK, the Dutch are …

photo by: notarim
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Opinion: The East Midlands would suffer without Europe

Vince Cable speaking York Europe Jobs Some rights reserved by Liberal DemocratsIf we needed reminding how vital Europe is to British jobs in regions like the East Midlands, the bosses of car giants Hyundai and Toyota spelt it out.

As a European candidate in May’s elections I was alarmed to read that Hyundai, who have a base in Corby, warned against leaving the EU saying that if the UK were no longer in the single market it would throw up ‘barriers’ to doing business. There was a similar message from …

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Opinion: Let’s have real “power to the people” for those of us outside the UK

power to the peopleThere is a lot wrong or out-of-date with our current political system. The Lib Dem policy paper “Power to the People” passed at the spring conference in York, addresses those issues in a typically liberal, radical way. It is worthy of our support, as a step forward, even if some find parts of it imperfect.

“Power to the People” aims to explore the viability of overseas constituencies. This would be quite radical for the UK but would – I believe – benefit it a …

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As football’s January transfer window closes why not play ‘Ukip Manager’?

Here’s a snippet from Ukip’s 2010 general election manifesto:

“Ukip would place a maximum of three foreign players in the starting line-up, as this would free up places for British players in the youth academies of these teams and spur the future development of home teams.”

As Paul Haydon points out here,

That would force managers to make some pretty tough decisions about who they would keep and who they would give the boot. Where would that leave your favourite team? Who would you keep and who would you send home? Toure or Silva? Negredo or Aguero? Oscar or Hazard?

Well, …

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Sir Ming Campbell MP writes…Britain has the power to shape the EU

A report on the successes and failures in Britain’s Europe policy, published today by British Influence shows that we have the power to shape the EU, if we wield it correctly. The report, by a cross-party panel of EU experts on which I served, shows that Britain has either achieved its objectives or is on track to achieve them in nine out of ten of the policy areas, but it makes clear that we will only be able to achieve more if we lead in a cooperative manner.

There are parts of the EU which need to be reformed. There …

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LibLink: Giles Goodall – The EU has made strides towards LGBT equality but discrimination and isolation remain common

Over on Pink News, Giles Goodall, Lib Dem European Parliamentary candidate for South East England, argues that the EU has played a key role in strengthening LGBT rights, and can continue to have a positive impact on the challenges that remain.

Here’s an excerpt:

On LGBT rights, voters face an important choice in May Equality is a European value, and over the years the EU has become a strong advocate for LGBT rights. We have the EU to thank for Europe-wide laws prohibiting discrimination in the workplace and providing special protection for victims of homophobic and transphobic crime. EU pressure has changed the lives of millions of LGBT people for the better in its newer member states in central and eastern Europe, where homosexuality was still a criminal offence as recently as the 1990s.

Of course that doesn’t mean that all is rosy for LGBT communities in Europe. An EU survey last year found that fear, isolation and discrimination are still all too common. Two out of three LGBT people reported hiding their sexuality when they were at school (68% in the UK), while 60% were bullied or called names. 26% of people said they had been attacked or threatened with violence in the past five years. In the UK, the figure was even higher, at 31%.

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Opinion: Is Europe “falling behind” – or is it leading the way?

Where did George Osborne get his figures from? Who writes his speeches?

A quick look at Wikipedia offers four sources of data for GDP per capita in 2012.  The first and simplest comes from the IMF (as it omits odd places such as Monaco and Liechtenstein).

Of the top 30 no less than 14 are members of the EU, 7 are major oil producers, 3 are the great trading hubs of  Hong Kong, Singapore and Switzerland and the remaining 6 are Australia, Canada, United States, Japan, Iceland, and Israel.

At 23rd in the list the UK is …

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Opinion: 1914, 1973 and the lessons for an EU exit?

1973The hundredth anniversary of the start of World War One has led to historians tortuously drawing parallels with the global rivalries of today. For Britain, the useful lessons from WW1 lie in European policy – and the rather lame campaign to stay in the EU.

After decades of anti-EU vignettes in UK newspapers, often with scant basis in fact, much of the British public have become emotionally negative towards ‘Europe’. There is receptiveness to the EU being blamed for all manner of problems; from perceived ‘illegal immigration’ to bureaucratic over-regulation.

The anti-EU camp has achieved an astonishing supplementary victory – confining the debate about the negative consequences of EU exit to a few ‘economic technicalities’. Investment curtailed? A million jobs lost? Claim and counter-claim fudge public perceptions on the possible economic downsides of EU exit.

What is surprising is that the in/out debate is conducted as if we were Iceland or Liechtenstein weighing up joining EFTA or the EU. It is also conducted as if it was still 1973 (when the UK joined), there were only 6 members, and we have 14 days to cancel.

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2014 – the year of an election the media might miss

This year starts with media attention turning towards European elections in the Spring, and will end with the political parties cranking through the gears in anticipation of a General Election. In between, though, there are two elections that matter, one in Brussels (or, in an interesting turn of events, Athens), one in the Liberal Democrats, each of which will serve as a marker towards future events.

First, the European one. After the European elections, the European Council will vote, using qualified majority voting and bearing in mind the results of the elections, for a nominee to become the new President of …

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Opinion: Ukip’s not-so-respectable European allies

Recently, Nigel Farage rejected the overtures and offer of alliance from the French Far Right party, Front Nationale, led by Marine Le Pen, stating “Whatever Marine Le Penn is trying to do with Le Front National, anti-Semitism, is still deeply embedded in that party, and for that principle political reason, we are not going to work with them now, or at any point in the future”. The alliance also included the Dutch Freedom Party, led by blonde bombshell, Geert Wilders – famous for his anti-Islam tirades.

This attempt by Farage to place Ukip in the ‘respectable’ wing of European politics …

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John Pugh MP writes…Lessons from Bulgaria

There is something strange happening. This week we have seen the British Prime Minister question whether the free movement of labour is necessarily a good thing. The prospect of potentially socially disruptive Bulgarian and Rumanian immigration is concentrating his mind while all across the EU pray devoutly that the worst of tabloid fears will not come to pass.

The banking collapse in 2009 made all of us question whether the unfettered, free movement of capital was invariably a good thing. Currently the merits of the free movement of capital and labour are up for debate.

What we are seeing is the collapse …

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This week in Europe: 18-21 November

Lib Dem MEP welcomes EU infrastructure investment

Liberal Democrat European transport spokesman, Phil Bennion, welcomed Tuesday’s adoption of an EU infrastructure package worth EUR 33 billion between 2014 and 2020.

The ‘Connecting Europe‘ programme will help fund and facilitate projects of common interest in the areas of energy, transport and infrastructure, and the West Coast Main Line corridor is among the identified priority projects that would be eligible for EU funding.

Phil Bennion MEP said:

When it comes to energy, transport and digital infrastructure it is important to look beyond national borders to exploit potential synergies and enable an easy

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This week in Europe: 11-15 November – it’s all getting a bit tense out there…

Following a complaint by the UK Government to the European Commission over the imposition of strict border controls by Spain at its border with Gibraltar, the Commission have, somewhat unexpectedly, concluded that the checks did not break EU laws. It has written to both the UK and Spain with recommendations to avoid future delays at the border.

In response, Sir Graham Watson, Liberal Democrat MEP for South West England and Gibraltar, said;

“It sounds to me as if Spanish officials have succeeded in nobbling this report. As the editor of Private Eye once said, if that’s justice then I’m a banana.”
“I am …

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Know someone in local government who deserves an award?

The ALDE Group in the Committee of the Regions has launched the third edition of the awards for key liberal players at regional and local level. This year’s awards ceremony will be held on 4th of December in Brussels.

Both the national board of ALDE and EDP member parties as well as their local branches can submit nominations of persons that are considered to be suitable candidates for such an award, accompanied by a small motivation. Nominations need to reach the ALDE Secretariat by 30th September 2013.

There will be 2 categories of awards:

  • Local Leader of the Year
  • Regional Leader of the Year

Each …

Posted in Europe / International, Local government and News | Also tagged and | 2 Comments

Opinion: Europe is good for business

On Monday a group of business leaders from across the country gathered to  launch a manifesto for Europe the main thrust of which said that Europe  was good for UK businesses. It was a great experience to be with a group of people who were all describing unique personal reasons related  to their own companies as to why Britain should remain in the EU.

It is often thought that it is just large businesses trading across  borders that do well out of EU membership. But at the launch event I  met with many small business leaders who have the EU somewhere …

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Opinion: An EU exit would be bad for Britain; it is our job to explain why

When Lord Lawson argued in The Times for a UK exit from the EU (reported in the Guardian; no pay wall! ), he said his arguments had nothing to do with being “anti-European”, but it appears they were nothing but. Filled with emotion and political zeal there was little relevance or fact based on economic evidence. Which is extremely disappointing from an ex-chancellor.

He stated that UK exports to the EU have risen by 40% while exports to the EU from countries outside of it have risen by 75%. If we were to leave the EU we would have to start paying …

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LibLink: Richard Marbrow – Ukip is essentially a ‘party of the south east’ despite gains

Writing for Public Service Europe, Lib Dem campaigner Richard Marbrow has an interesting piece on the distinctly geographical ‘success’ of Ukip.

Here’s an excerpt:

For those of us who ply our politics in the north or the west of the United Kingdom, the inability of the British press to understand the existence of parts of the country more than an hour from London is a source of never ending frustration. The game changer of UKIP gains in the county council elections is a phenomenon largely contained in the South and East of England. Their breakthrough did not even extend into the South

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Opinion: Why Lib Dems should support the Referendum on the EU – and let’s have it before 2015

EU flag - Some rights reserved by European ParliamentIn Lancing in early 2013, in the heart of the Adur Valley region of English South Coast, our campaign team was putting together a strategy for the May 2013 county elections.

Not long ago, Lancing and Sompting were Liberal-run towns. Lib Dem councillors had recently brought a French market to Lancing, and a local entrepreneur has just introduced direct flights to Paris from our airport in Shoreham. Local businesses export their products to Europe through Shoreham Port. Hundreds leave the South Coast

Posted in Op-eds | 46 Comments

Opinion: Ironically, the rise of UKIP makes Britain a more European place

UKIP logoUKIP’s relative success in the English local elections and South Shields by-election this week has met with predictable reactions across the political spectrum: from copycat politics and jealousy on the Tory right, to handwringing and downright despair on the centre left.

But while UKIP has succeeded in hoovering up disenchanted Tories by the thousand, its appeal is clearly much broader. In fact, the rise of UKIP’s populist anti-politics replicates a pattern played out across Europe since the crisis hit, from the Danish People’s Party to Italy’s Beppe Grillo. Ironically, with …

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Conference report – Europe policy consultative session

Europe remains a political challenge for the UK and for the Liberal Democrats. Where the national interest clearly demands British membership of the EU to access and influence the single market, and to leverage British influence globally, the political debate often revolves around a caricature of the EU  that brings no benefits and big responsibilities. Where the liberal reform agenda to make European institutions more accountable and cost-effective, to make Europe more economically competitive have widespread support in Europe, there is a danger that a repatriation narrative will fail at the diplomatic hurdle, and hand victory to those in Europe who …

Posted in Conference, Europe / International, News and Party policy and internal matters | 2 Comments

Fiona Hall MEP writes… Cameron is putting British interests at risk

In his speech on Europe yesterday, David Cameron spoke not as Prime Minister but as a Tory party leader backed into a corner by his outspoken tea-party backbenchers. It was never going to be possible to appease his own right-wing and at the same time reassure his European partners. By promising an in-out referendum following an anticipated but far from certain renegotiated EU treaty by 2017, he has chosen to prioritise party political interests.

As a result, the UK will lose further influence in Europe as other Member States anticipate a “Brexit” and discount the UK’s views altogether. Even worse, he …

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Cameron fails to practise what he preaches over Europe

David Cameron - Some rights reserved by The Prime Minister's OfficeThere will be lots of fascinating analysis of the prime minister’s speech on Europe. However, this response from the deputy director of the Centre for European Reform, Katinka Barysch, over at Comment is Free caught my eye (emphasis added):

Germany, France and other EU countries have indicated that they want to accommodate Cameron to help Britain to stay in the union. What they simply cannot do is to allow Britain a pick-and-choose membership in response to the

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The speech that never was

David Cameron - License Some rights reserved by Statsministerens kontor While David Cameron’s much hyped speech on Europe has been postponed, it is not clear that this makes much difference. The key points were briefed to the press in advance so we can see the point.

Full marks for not wasting good copy already written go to the Economist which draws four conclusions, including this one:

The prime minister is trying to Europeanise Euroscepticism. The British often assume they are the

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Clegg and Cable criticise Tory EU machinations

First up, the Independent’s Andrew Grice reports Nick Clegg’s comments from yesterday’s Today Programme:

The battle lines over which powers should be returned from Brussels to Britain will be drawn today when Conservative Eurosceptics list their demands for the “new settlement” with the EU promised by David Cameron.

But Nick Clegg and a new all-party pro-European campaign, which includes Kenneth Clarke, poured cold water on the prospect of Britain winning a major repatriation of powers, accusing the Eurosceptics of making unrealistic demands.

Mr Cameron is expected to welcome the Fresh Start group’s “manifesto for change” ahead of his landmark speech on Europe on

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Independent View: how should Lib Dems respond to Cameron’s Europe speech?

cameron-europeThe Westminster village might still be in post-holiday slumber mode, but a significant political event is due to take place only in a couple of weeks – David Cameron’s long awaited, ‘tantric’ speech on Europe. While the exact details remain unclear, Cameron could well argue that the UK’s terms of EU membership require revision, and that this should include the repatriation of some powers, after which the new package will be put to a referendum. So how should the Liberal Democrats respond?

Posted in Europe / International, News and The Independent View | Also tagged and | 50 Comments

Clegg celebrates the “astonishing triumph of politics over conflict” which is the EU

eu_flagIn his acceptance speech – just over five years ago – after Nick Clegg had just been narrowly chosen as the next leader of the Liberal Democrats, he said that he is a “liberal by temperament, by instinct and by upbringing”. But if those influences make him a liberal, they also make him, arguably to a far greater extent, probably the most pro-European of Britain’s senior politicians. Europe is a subject on which Clegg can speak with the authority of someone who is at least as comfortable, if not more so, in Brussels as he is in Westminster.

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This week in Europe… 26-29 November

Lib Dems welcome the launch of free trade negotiations with Japan

UK Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder, the party’s European spokesperson on international trade, today welcomed the Council’s decision to authorise the launch of a free trade agreement with Japan, saying it could deliver additional EU exports to Japan worth €43.4bn (around £35bn). She said:

It is time to tap into the huge potential of a free trade agreement with Japan. It is the world’s third largest economy and crucial export market for the

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Three cheers for the unsung heroes of Brussels

A new survey by European news portal Euractiv has ranked Sharon Bowles MEP as the most influential Brit in EU policy-making, eight places ahead of David Cameron and thirty-three above Nigel Farage. The UK40 survey also features Lib Dem MEPs Andrew Duff and Sir Graham Watson in the top sixteen. National politicians such as Cameron, William Hague and Nick Clegg make the top twenty, but often lose out in the ranking to less well known Brits in the EU institutions.

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“Standing up for the people of Britain by standing tall in our own backyard” – Clegg on Europe

Nick Clegg made a speech earlier today setting out his vision for the role the UK should play in the European Union.

You can read what Clegg had to say (minus, unfortunately, the “party political” segment which has been removed by the Cabinet Office) below, and what the Voice’s Stephen Tall thinks he should have said here. And here’s his fellow co-editor Mark Pack’s take on the speech.

Posted in Europe / International | 12 Comments

I don’t agree with Nick. We should be in Europe to reform the EU

Nick Clegg will today make the kind of speech which makes it very hard for Lib Dems to push the idea that our party is serious about reform of the European Union. According to the BBC, he will dismiss the chances of any significant changes to the EU’s budget:

In a speech to be delivered to the Chatham House international affairs think-tank, Mr Clegg will say Labour is well aware there was “absolutely no prospect” of achieving a real-terms cut. “Their change of heart is dishonest, it’s hypocritical.

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