LibLink: Chris Davies MEP – Why I’m backing Verhofstadt for Commission President

Over on his blog, North West MEP Chris Davies explains why he is backing former Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt to continue leading the ALDE grouping and be the group’s nominee for president of the European Commission.

Over to Chris to explain why:

He is a man who can provide the European Union with a degree of leadership and inspiration that it has been missing.

I am seriously concerned that Europe is stagnating while countries elsewhere gain greater economic influence.  Verhofstadt is absolutely right in saying that we must break free of our self-imposed shackles and move forward.

National governments should retain control over their domestic affairs, but in a growing number of instances the problems we face can only be fixed by our working together and promoting our shared values.

As a former Belgian Prime Minister, no-one has greater understanding than he of the need to recognise different points of view and find ways of taking Europe’s nations forward with a sense of common purpose.

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  • Tubby Isaacs 12th Dec '13 - 6:29pm

    He sounds OK, and I say that as someone more in sympathy with the Socialist group. Reckon they could work with him.

    The problem is though that he’ll get very quickly shot down by Angela Merkel, won’t he?

  • Verhofstadt is a charismatic and engaging speaker but he would be a huge problem in getting Lib Dem MEPs elected at the European elections. He believes in a United States of Europe (see here – , an EU army, scrapping the rebate, a huge increase in EU taxes, the Commission becoming an EU government and scrapping the UK’s seat at the UN Security Council. He would be a PR disaster for the party and a gift to UKIP, the Tories and the Mail. Worst of all he wants Britain to have the choice between a United States of Europe and becoming an ‘associate member’ of the EU (see here – which would be no better than Norway’s situation at the moment – all the rules, no influence. Certainly not ‘why I am in’.

  • jedibeeftrix 12th Dec '13 - 8:38pm

    he is also a man who is almost venomous about british popular opinion for ever closer union.

    yay for representative democracy! I can already see the pro lib dem votes flooding in in response…

  • Electoral poison and out of touch with democracy and reality. Events will overtake him, I’m afraid.

  • jbt Don’t you mean “venomous about… opinion AGAINST ever closer union”? Good on him I say. I have seen him defend ably against Paxman, for instance, and can explain the pro-European political case as well as anyone I have heard. Like Chris Davies, I would back him.

  • “National governments should retain control over their domestic affairs, but in a growing number of instances the problems we face can only be fixed by our working together”

    Says who? The British people would rather there were a shrinking number of instances in which the EU was involved. This is just self-justification for those who seek to expand the role of the EU without clear democratic assent. There is no great clamour for an even greater EU role. The EU should be doing less, but doing what it does better and more efficiently.

  • Mick Taylor 13th Dec '13 - 9:43am

    Lots of people like RC confidently assert that they know what the British people want, especially where it concerns the EU. It depends on how you ask the question. For example if you ask people if they want EU states to cooperate in bringing criminals to justice they answer enthusiastically yes. If you ask them if they want the EU to interfere in our criminal justice system then they answer equally emphatically no. If you ask whether the EU should make trade easier between EU countries they answer yes, but if you suggest this will mean high common standards to ensure a level playing field then they are less enthusiastic.
    When the British press have for the past 30 years or more written only negative stories about the EU (e.g totally falsely claiming that 29 million Rumanians and Bulgarians will come to the UK once restrictions are lifted) it is hardly surprising that many people regard the EU negatively. Perhaps more surprisingly is the relatively large number who despite the constant barrage of negatives still want to remain in.
    Guy Verhofstedt has one overriding virtue. He is unequivocal in his support for the continuation of the EU and also clear about what needs changing.

  • I think he would do a fantastic campaign and help us fight back again the eurofrigids of labour and the euroscpetics in the tories. Not to mention UKIP. it id about time that the pro-european message was given a real airing in the UK . We have for too long not been prepared to fight back.; Now we must and Guy can only help.

  • Guy Verhostadt should the full support of every Liberal Democrat. Apart from his undoubted qualities, he completely wiped the floor with Farage in the European Parliament (you can watch it on you tube). I had hoped he would be at Autumn Conference, the party needs to have him as a guest speaker for Spring Conference.
    The ‘don’t frighten the horses’ approach of the pro-EU side has failed abysmally, We have to take the argument to the antis before the UK sleepwalks out of the EU. When we were bold and united we led and won the argument for Europe, we must do so again.

  • jedibeeftrix 14th Dec '13 - 9:18am

    Mick, that is people read opinion polls:

    … with confidence, possibly.

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