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 in the 2014-19 Parliament. And, as you can hardly have a campaign without a launch, ten Liberal Democrats, led by Jonathan Fryer, are heading for the Austrian capital.

Hosted by applicant member NEOS, business starts with debate on seven resolutions carried over from last November’s Congress in London. Subjects to be discussed include sustainable transport, the Baltic Sea, the use of wood in construction, sustainable development, free movement of workers, asylum policy and the shadow economy.

Lunchtime sees a collection of fringe meetings with, of particular interest, one hosted by Syngenta on competitiveness and sustainable growth, moderated by our own Ros Scott, whilst EBay have sponsored a discussion on innovative business and the Single Market.

Council itself meets in the afternoon, with an application for full membership from the newly emerging Austrian liberal group, NEOS – the New Austria, who have recently won seats in the Austrian Parliament and are expected to win two, perhaps three, seats in the European Parliament, the first Austrian liberals to do so since the 1990s. The rest of the meeting focuses on financial matters and consideration of the pan-European campaign.

However, possibly the highlight of the day is the evening rally launching the ALDE campaign for the European elections, described as “an inspiring evening celebrating all that unites European Liberals ahead of the 2014 Elections”. More than a thousand people are expected to hear speeches from Sir Graham Watson, the joint leadership team for the campaign, Olli Rehn and Guy Verhofstadt, and NEOS Leaders Matthias Strolz and Angelika Mlinar, both of whom I had the pleasure of meeting in Brussels earlier this year.

At a time when the extremes of left, right and anti-Europeanism loom large on the European political scene, a strong liberal voice will be essential over the next five years, and we can only hope that, when we meet again in Brussels on 13 June, the mood will be a positive one…

* Mark Valladares is a directly elected member of the ALDE Party Council. in the absence of some of his colleagues, he’ll be casting two votes at the Vienna meeting…

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One Comment

  • Ruth Bright 3rd May '14 - 6:55pm

    Nice pic – only right that you should have your sachertorte and tweet it.

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