European liberal leaders gather in London

Tomorrow sees politicians from across Europe gather for a meeting of Liberal leaders, hosted by Nick Clegg under the auspices of the European Liberal Democrats (ELDR). Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn and German Economy Minister Philipp Roesler are among the senior liberal figures joining him at the mini-summit in London.

Having promised to ‘re-engage with Europe’, Nick sees this meeting as part of that process, using the umbrella organisation of European liberalism to gather potential allies and influence the European Commission more positively than David Cameron did at last month’s Brussels summit.

Interestingly, Douglas Carswell MP has felt the need to comment on the event, suggesting that the gathering will have little value and asking;

“There will be a lot of mushy goodwill and talk of re-engagement, but does that mean that our government will be able to safeguard our national interest?”

Which does rather lead one to ask the question, if this is a liberal event, rather than an official government one, what is he on about? But, for his benefit, Liberal Democrats tend to feel that working with people to make Europe better for business and for people is better than opting out.

Nevertheless, at the meeting liberal ministers and EU commissioners will discuss the euro zone crisis, measures to boost growth in the bloc’s fragile economy and the future of the EU’s multi-billion euro budget, the initial ELDR discussions of which were covered by Liberal Democrat Voice in December.

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8 Comments

  • Yes – remind me again who exactly are the Tories aligned with internationally? Perhaps that’s why Mr Carswell and others think Liberal events are of more significance…

  • Simon McGrath 8th Jan '12 - 1:23pm

    Of course since the party in Government in Hungary at the moment are members of the EPP, if the Tories had stayed in we would be able to complain about that as well ………

  • Stuart Bonar 8th Jan '12 - 8:30pm

    Well said, Jonathan. With so many half-truths and no-truths peddled about the EU, we need to keep making the positive case for the EU and our active participation in it… if we don’t, no-one else is going to do it.

  • This event has total PR disaster written all over it. I really despair of Clegg sometimes.

    If Nick Clegg thinks he will get fair and impartial coverage of an EU related event, then he is absolutely mad. He will be canvassed all over Wednesday’s papers as an EU Quisling. Far better to hold constructive discussions behind the scenes in a low key manner and come out with concrete results.

    @Jonathan Fryer

    “I trust these weighty continental Liberal figures will help give Nick the courage to stand up not only to Cameron but also to the Europhobic elements in the British media and make the point loud and clear that it is in Britain’s national interest to be fully engaged in the EU and to help the eurozone overcome its current crisis.”

    The UK public is not in the mood to listen to “weighty continental Liberal figures”.

    The whole issue of Europe and the Liberal Democrats’ positioning on it is set to be a massive source of popular support for Cameron and a drag on our polling performance for years hence. Yet unfortunately no-one in the party hierarchy seems to get this. If we had any of the press on our side, willing to hear logical argument, we could maybe turn this round and make it into a stick to beat the Tory right (e.g. they are destroying prospects for trade and commerce with the EU.). But we don’t have and never will.

    Sorry, but Clegg is about to put his foot in it with poor public relations YET AGAIN. In UK politics, worthy idealism doesn’t cut it and sound bites do. What kind of sound bites and image does he think are going to come from a conference where he parades around with European politicians?

  • Alex Macfie 9th Jan '12 - 7:11pm

    @RC: So instead of openly hosting a summit with fellow liberal leaders, discussing issues in a transparent manner, you think Nick Clegg should have had secret meetings with them and then some time later presented a policy purporting to have come out of these closed-door meetings, with no way of determining whether it was what he had been arguing for? How would this inspire public confidence in Nick Clegg in his capacity as leader of the Liberal Democrats, or even as Deputy PM? And how would it inspire public confidence in European political cooperation? There is already enough cr@p public policy coming from secret talks and presented as faites accomplis, especially in international fora. I don’t think policy laundering is the liberal way, do you?

    The UK public may well be majority Eurosceptical. But these people already have a party to vote for; there would be no point in the Lib Dems trying to gain reflected popularity from Cameron over his anti-EU posturing. It would not impress the supporters of Cameron’s policy, who will vote Tory anyway, and it would alienate those voters who are more likely to vote Lib Dem.

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