Tag Archives: europe

Stephen Knight writes… Boris marginalises debate on Europe

boris and cameronBy making a Europe speech at Bloomberg, just like the Prime Minister did over a year ago, it was clear that the Mayor of London was sabotaging the launch of his Chief Economic Adviser’s report on our place in the EU as a (re)launch pad for his political career. What a good use of £36,400 of taxpayers’ money!

Predictably, the headlines are about Boris Johnson’s plans to return to the Commons. Once again, the debate about our role in the EU gets swept under the carpet and reduced to meaningless sound bites.

The Tories have now made ‘EU reform’ another such sound bite. Reform of what? And how? And when?

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@ALDEParty Council preview – “How was it for you?”

image aldeIt seems like mere weeks since the last Council meeting of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in Europe (ALDE), when optimism was in the air – admittedly helped by the presence of our Austrian hosts on that occasion, who were running an unashamedly pro-European campaign. Sadly, just six weeks later, delegates from across Europe gather in Brussels under rather less cheery circumstances.

The decimation of the British, German and Italian member parties in the European Parliament, plus the defection of the Romanians to the European People’s Party following merger with …

Posted in Europe / International and News | Also tagged | 24 Comments

Opinion: Lib Dems and the EU. Should we assert our Radical Localist side?

Map of the European UnionAt the beginning of the year, the European elections were looking touch and go for the Lib Dems.  Our poll ratings were on the borderline of losing our MEPs, so we took a risk.  We gambled on a strategy that, if it paid off, would win us the few percent of extra votes needed to hold most of our MEPs.  The tactic was to highlight that we are the only truly pro-Europe party, which would attract swing voters from more lukewarm parties. So we went all in with ‘The Party of In’. It was a gamble we lost.

Public opinion of the EU is mixed. People acknowledge the benefits of membership but many think the costs are too high. Polls suggest similar numbers of people want to leave the EU as want to stay in. But if the terms of membership are renegotiated, the majority of people support staying in.

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Before learning lessons from Ukip’s success, we first have to put that success in perspective

UKIP logoMy LDV colleague Joe Otten yesterday kicked off what we hope will be a little mini series reflecting on the success of Ukip (and other extreme right parties across Europe) in last week’s European elections.

I agree with Joe that is something we should discuss with some seriousness – and I look forward to reading your contributions in the comments and in posts on the site.

But I think before we start to “learn lessons” we have to put the vote in some context.

It is difficult to think of conditions that could …

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Appeasement or Opposition?

clegg farage lbcNothing is more annoying, said one voter on the radio, than mainstream politicians telling us why we voted UKIP.

But at risk of causing further annoyance, it is important to try to understand the UKIP vote, what it represents, and to what extent it is right to respond with appeasement, like Labour’s Sadiq Khan, and many others of left and right, or opposition. To be fair to Khan, despite the apology, he largely makes the same arguments Labour have been making for years.

Uniting the issues of immigration, Europe, and …

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LibLink: Lord Wallace – EU membership is essential for Britain’s national security

European FlagWriting on the European Movement UK blog, Lord (William) Wallace has some interesting thoughts on the importance of European cooperation to Britain’s strategic and security interests.

Here’s a snippet:

The 2010 National Security Strategy stood out from its predecessors by its inclusion of a number of non-military threats among the most serious it sees as facing Britain: global epidemics, organised crime and cross-border terrorism , the impact of climate change, and cyber-attack.

photo by: rockcohen
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Clegg: Pro-Europeans are the real reformers now

european union starsSpeaking at a Reuter’s Newsmaker event this morning Nick Clegg argued the case for reforming the EU, and for the Liberal Democrats to lead this charge.

The economic rationale for being in Europe should speak for itself, but making the case for IN isn’t easy. The Eurosceptic establishment has gone unchallenged for decades and before you even get to the real issues at the heart of this debate, you have to penetrate a wall of assumptions and myths.

Or the biggest myth of all – the idea that

photo by: notarim
Posted in News | 22 Comments

ALDE Party Council – seeing double in the city of intrigue and sachertorte

SachertorteIt is perhaps appropriate that, given the much-anticipated (at least by our enemies) fate of Liberal Democrats on 22 May, the ALDE (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in Europe) Party Council meets in Vienna, the city where Orson Welles set ‘The Third Man’, in which Harry Lime gave the impression of being dead, only to be killed in the end anyway.

However, this month’s European Parliamentary elections represent the raison d’être of any pan-European political party, and so liberals from across the European Union are working to ensure the strongest possible representation …

photo by: Jen SFO-BCN
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Edward McMillan-Scott MEP writes… 100 years on from World War I, let’s remember the EU’s role in spreading peace and democracy

Anzac day License Some rights reserved by Ian McKenzieToday is Anzac Day, when we remember those Australians and New Zealanders who fell fighting during the First World War side by side with British soldiers, and the senseless sacrifices of millions of men and women who died across Europe and the rest of the world.

This year will see the one hundredth year anniversary of the First World War and it should give us time to pause and reflect on the tragedies of the first half of the twentieth-century.

As we do …

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68% Lib Dem members say Clegg right to challenge Farage to debates on Europe (but, sorry Nick, more think he performed better)

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Over 830 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.

Nigel farage nick clegg in out eu european union debateThe Lib Dems launch our European election campaign officially today – but it was unofficially kicked off in February when Nick Clegg laid down the gauntlet to Nigel Farage, challenging him to a debate on whether the UK should be in or out. We asked Lib Dem members what they thought of the duel – was Nick right to debate Nigel, and who you thought did best. Here’s what you told us…

Two-thirds say Nick right to challenge Nigel

Do you think it was good or a bad decision for Nick Clegg to challenge Nigel Farage to a debate on Britain’s membership of the European Union?

Posted in LDV Members poll | Also tagged | 7 Comments

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
Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , , and | 8 Comments

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.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 30 Comments

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 …

Posted in Europe / International and News | Also tagged | 1 Comment

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

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged | 22 Comments

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 …

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 25 Comments

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



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