A Dutch liberal MEP’s perspective on Brexit

Last week, Dutch MEP Sophie in”t Veld made a speech in the Parliament about Brexit. Conference goers will remember her from Bournemouth last year where she gave a keynote speech.

Here are a few key quotes:

We must offer the outlines of a new European Union. People’s existential anxieties will not be addressed by eliminating rules on vacuum cleaners or curved cucumbers. People are anxious and insecure because in just a few decades the world has changed beyond recognition

There is a 50 50 split in the population that is reflected in the electorate, but also in the United States and elsewhere. And each side is terrified of the worldview of the other. Our task is to offer a plan for healing this rift. We must do justice to both, it’s not just about the victory of one group over the other. It’s about creating a society where both feel safe and at home.

The knee-jerk sentiment response of weakening the EU in response to anti-EU sentiment is the wrong one. It does not do justice to those who do want to grasp the opportunities the 21st century offers. Nor does it help in any way those who feel threatened by the new world. We have to make the EU stronger, more democratic and accountable, and better able to act and address the big challenges of today.

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  • The more I think about this, I reckon May has played a blinder. Boris can come back in a year or so and say something like security and economic ties are essential, best if we defer negotiations for a year, then weill they ever start aup again. It could be acceptable coming from him.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 15th Jul '16 - 4:23pm

    This is sensible from a woman who is admirable

    But where is the post on the horror in Nice ?

    Sometimes it would be good to discuss our internationalism in a context beyond the EU !

  • Wow!

    Can we get Sophie to share her bottle of vision and sense?

  • Sophie in’t Veld makes me proud to be a liberal.

    I guess the first step is for governments to stop their irresponsible EU-bashing. Ours have been pretty awful for doing this, but don’t have a monopoly.

    Imagine if the discourse was either (a) this is how we are working with our European partners to address issue X, or (b) this is something better done at national level, and this is how we are addressing it.

    In fact, the devolution debate would look different (and would have looked different in the days of Labour’s devolution experiment), if the discourse had been about what was best done together at EU level, at national level or at regional level.

    Shifting the language is the first step to empowering people to understand the realities would help the debate enormously. In particular, if the UK had done this (or did do this) people would have a sense of what things were EU and what were national (which would bring an end to stuff about “too many laws from Brussels”) and would also have a sense of how much is about globalisation, where we are vastly stronger working with our European neighbours than attempting to stand alone.

  • Thanks for posting this. Though most Lib Dems were Remainers in the referendum, the statements coming from the EU “toffs” have shown their harshness towards the difficult decision the UK electors had to make. The referendum was not only a result of internal battles within the Tory Party but played to an electorate who have not been listened to – both in the UK and in the EU. Not listening was Cameron’s mistake and it will be the EU’s mistake. Both of these have been listening to their own rhetoric and ignoring the voices of citizens. Offering a plan for healing this rift – between the people and the EU institution – is essential [whether the UK is IN or OUT of the EU]
    It has become clear that citizens of all 28 member countries are being treated badly by those making statements on behalf of the EU – who are supposed to be democratic and diplomatic, encouraging working together and not making inflammatory statements – whether elected MEPs or commissioners etc. Let’s work together, whatever our membership is or becomes. Europe should be bigger than inward-looking protectionism.

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