@ALDEParty Council Report: and now, the end is near?…

The sun was beating down in Sofia, the sky was blue, there wasn’t a cloud to spoil the view. But there was Brexit in our hearts…

Yes, it was time for the Spring Council meeting of the ALDE Party, hosted by our Bulgarian sister party, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms. The key items of business were the continuing work towards the 2019 European Parliamentary election manifesto and the adoption of the 2017 audit. In truth, the latter was never going to be an issue – finances are healthy, and likely to become more so.

Progress on the manifesto has become more intense, with a series of expert forums on key topics now underway. From a British perspective, our position is a depressing one, in that as we aren’t scheduled to be in the European Union in May 2019, we’ve kept a low profile in terms of involvement – it feels inappropriate to be influencing a document we won’t be bound by. But progress, led by a group of key figures, appears good, and Council offered them some advice along the way. We’ll see how they’ve got on in the Autumn, as the manifesto is expected to be adopted at the November Congress.

Another item of interest was the affiliate membership application from the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland. Whilst they weren’t able to be present to present their application in person – they’ve got a Parliamentary by-election in West Tyrone on Thursday – we were on standby to endorse them if required. However, Council unanimously approved their application, and we look forward to their company in the autumn.

On a side note, the status of France’s En Marche after the 2019 European Parliamentary elections is a matter of serious discussion. Rumours that they may choose to attempt to form their own grouping persist, and this may impact on ALDE, especially as the two groups would be fishing in similar waters. Will some arrangement – formal or informal – be reached, either before the elections or afterwards? We’ll see, but expect twists and turns in the meantime.

* Mark Valladares is a member of the Federal International Relations Committee.

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