@ALDEParty Council to meet in Bratislava – the preview

And so, once again this year, I find myself heading for Bratislava, this time as a member of the Party’s delegation to the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) Party Council meeting which takes place on Saturday morning. Here’s what’s on the agenda…

Preparations for the 2024 European Elections

A tricky, and somewhat painful, agenda item for us, given that we won’t be fighting them and don’t have a vote on the manifesto, but work is underway on designing the campaign, drafting a Europe-wide message and building stronger links with non-ALDE members of the Renew Europe group in the European Parliament. Our position as a European nation which doesn’t have any formal arrangement with the European Union, nor ambitions to join, does leave us a bit like a small boy with his nose against the outside of the shop window.

Finance

The Commission is being difficult about receipts from third countries (for example, us), and there are suggestions that our rights within the ALDE Party are in jeopardy. Indeed, the key European Regulation 1141/2014 does offer challenges in terms of having non-EU member parties. But it does seem strange that the Commission would discourage participation from EEA states (Iceland, Norway and Switzerland), Schengen micro-states such as Andorra, or even candidate nations such as Bosnia-Hercegovina or Moldova.

I would expect quite a lot of horse trading before this resolves itself, but we will continue to make the case for wider inclusivity within all European political families.

New members and ex-members

We’ve got three new membership applications to consider, from Serbia, Kosovo and Andorra, whilst the seemingly never-ending carousel of liberal groupings in Slovenia continues to turn, with two existing member parties having joined together with others to form a new grouping, Gibanje Svoboda.

The Kosovan application, from the Democratic Party of Kosovo, is an intriguing one, especially given its founding members were senior figures in the Kosovo Liberation Army who have since been indicted to appear before the Kosovo Specialist Chambers in The Hague, accused of six counts of crimes against humanity and four counts of war crimes. They have been replaced by new leadership and, whilst there is a recommendation to approve their membership application, there may be those who are uneasy about admitting them.

New rules, new processes and the fate of the Individual Members group

At the last meeting, in Dublin, it was decided to abolish the Individual Members group in its current form and convert it into a supporters group. As you might imagine, the leadership of the Individual Members weren’t happy and remain so. However, a working group was set up to examine the process by which this might happen, and their report will be presented to Council. They also examined the role of the Secretary General, how one is appointed and how they might be released if appropriate, and their recommendations are also up for consideration.

We’ll see what happens regarding the Individual Members but, for British members, the proposals make very little difference to our rights and status.

Ideas, philosophy and evolution

The founding document of the ALDE Party is the Stuttgart Declaration, signed by its founder members in 1976. As you might imagine, the world has moved on a bit since then, and our own Baroness Sal Brinton, a Vice President of ALDE, is steering the revision proposal process. Nominations for membership of a standing committee intended to help her in this task are being sought, and I’d be highly surprised if the Liberal Democrats didn’t nominate someone to contribute a British perspective.

There is a slot for urgency resolutions but, as of the time of writing, we don’t know what they are – the deadline is Thursday lunchtime. The Liberal Democrat delegation is discussing resolutions on the situation in Iran, the FIFA World Cup and human rights, and LGBT+ rights in Slovakia following a serious attack there recently.

And that’s about it for the time being. There will be further reports from Bratislava later in the week.

* Mark Valladares is a member of the Party’s ALDE delegation and is grateful to all those who voted him to be re-elected for a three-year term starting on 1 January.

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