LibLink: Danny Alexander: The European Elections are not just a sideshow

European Union flagDanny Alexander has written for British Influence about the importance of electing MEPs who actually give a damn about making Europe work and making it work better tomorrow.

He compares and contrasts the respective value of UKIP and Liberal Democrat MEPs:

UKIP MEPs have already shown that they are incapable of standing up for Britain in Brussels. Time and again, they have missed crucial votes or opposed key reforms that improve the lives of British citizens. UKIP themselves admit in their manifesto that “we don’t go there to make the EU better”. In fact, they have a strong vested interest in making it worse. Their one and only aim is to pull Britain out of the EU once and for all, a move that would ruin the economic recovery and plunge Britain back into recession, putting the 3 million jobs that depend on our trade with Europe at risk.

Liberal Democrat MEPS on the other hand, recently ranked as the hardest-working British party in Europe, have fought tirelessly to reform the EU for the better and ensure that the UK’s voice is heard.  Whether it’s putting in place stricter oversight of banks to help prevent another financial crisis, ending overfishing in Europe’s seas or delivering the first ever cut to the EU budget while shifting spending towards research and innovation, Liberal Democrats have consistently defended British interests at Europe’s top table. They have shown that the most successful MEPs are not necessarily those that shout the loudest, but those who are willing to roll up their sleeves, build alliances and deliver vital reforms.

And three priorities for the next five years:

First, we need to make sure that the UK benefits as much as possible from the billions of available EU infrastructure funding for projects of common European interest, such as the Eleclink project in the Channel Tunnel that will link France and the UK’s electricity grids. Using funds to modernise Britain’s infrastructure and improve energy links with the continent will increase investment, unlock economic growth and secure our future energy security.

Second, we need to ensure that the world’s biggest ever trade deal between the EU and US goes ahead, giving a major boost to jobs and growth in Britain. This is set to be complemented by other major trade deals currently in the pipeline, including with Japan and India.

Third, we need to bring the single market into the 21st century by opening up the EU’s digital, telecoms and services sectors, creating new opportunities for UK firms to expand into the continent. Crucially, all of these steps will require the support of the European Parliament and the hard work of British MEPs.

You can read the whole article here.

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  • you cannot make europe democratic nor work so OUT Thats why this time I will Vote UKIP you had my vote in Euro and national elections last time You failed so sorry bye

  • In all probability they will be for this party after Sunday.

  • Charles Rothwell 21st May '14 - 8:45pm

    Just about to start reading the new book by Alan Bootle which is being published at a very opportune moment indeed. I like the foreword below stating the book has been “written especially for all fair-minded people across Europe who have previously been presented only with a choice of extremist ravings [wonder who that could mean?] or wads of impenetrable Euro-speak” and look forward to reviews appearing here in due course as well. From reading the cover jacket, Bootle makes clear that the top priority for the EU must be to focus on the kind of economic benefits Danny Alexander mentions above (and tackling the far from finished issue of the Euro), BUT that a complete re-think on how the EU operates and, in particular, how its citizens are involved in its operations at all levels is also desperately needed at the same time.
    Roger Bootle’s new Book – The Trouble With Europe – out in May
    One of the City of London’s best-known economists and winner of the Wolfsen Prize, Roger Bootle, will release his new book The Trouble of Europe: Why The EU Isn’t Working, How It Can Be Reformed, What Could Take Its Place on the 1st May 2014.

    “Designed by its founders to pursue ever closer union the EU has reached a fork in the road. While its elites still press for greater integration, support for the project among its citizenry is dwindling fast. A noble dream born in the shadow of a terrible war, conceived in a world of powerful blocs dominated by the United States and the USSR, the European Union has become hopelessly ill equipped for an era of globalisation and emerging markets. In its current form it is nothing less than the greatest obstacle between Europe and success. What s more, if nothing changes, its share of world GDP will drop sharply and its influence will be greatly diminished. This book is written especially for all fair-minded people across Europe who have previously been presented only with a choice of extremist ravings or wads of impenetrable Euro-speak. To all those who may be called upon to contribute to a decision about Europe s future, or their country s part in it, Roger Bootle offers a fluent, readable and even-handed analysis of the options of how Europe could better serve its people.”

  • Little Jackie Paper 21st May '14 - 9:22pm

    Charles Rothwell – But that is kind of the problem isn’t it. Using the EU to chase some mythic bottom line isn’t actually helping. One wonders for example what mode 4 access is going to be involved in these various trade deals. Indeed, I worry that these trade deals may end up showing the worst of indirect democracy.

    What we have ended up with is a situation where the EU, ‘ideal,’ for want of a better term in the sense of something that is lived just isn’t there for a vast number of people. It is well and good, and indeed true, to say what good eggs many Poles are, but it’s only half a story. If free movement is a two way street as we are continually told then why are we not seeing half a million unemployed young head to Poland? It is not a two-way street if there is a whacking great road block on one side.

    Simply talking about a European ideal just isn’t enough if people can’t see it and feel it and benefit from it. If you have the bubble priced house or family in Europe or a job in a multinational then this all great – but that’s thin cross-section. All of this may well reflect the gaping asymmetry we see in UK society rather than anything profoundly wrong with the EU per se of course. But it doesn’t change my instinct that people won’t buy into an ideal they can’t see reify.

    I don’t know what the answer is, but in itself citizen involvement isn’t the answer, it has to be much more active and at the moment I just don’t see nearly enough of a cross-section of UK society feeling the European ideal. There is more to this than the economic bottom line – and Danny Alexander has to get that.

  • In all the shouting about UKIP, what concerns me is that every one seems to have overlooked UKIP’s achilles heel, namely it’s questionable ability to negotiate. Firstly we can be in no doubt that UKIP is capable of facilitating the UK’s exit from the EU. However, what is more problematic is the not unrelated negotiation of access to EU markets… Given UKIP’s current track record on EU relationship building and negotiations – and I refer here explicitly to UKIP’s MEPs, I suggest that the style of our exit will be such that it is unlikely to be amicable and hence the EU would be unlikely to look favourably upon our request for a trading relationship…

  • The Guardian is predicting that the party will be wiped out as far as EU elections are concerned. I don’t like the Guardian, but that is my prediction too.

    As someone who used to vote LibDem, I feel frustrated with the party because at its core it has ideals that it will die for and that process is now well under way. The party faithful are obsessed with these ideals. My frustration is that the ideals are not praiseworthy, or of intrinsic value. They are pseudo-values created by a left wing elite in an unreal world. A party in long term third party limbo with no hope of power allowed itself to become fascinated by internal dreams. The party inhabited this world for decades with no perceived risk of encountering reality, exposure, government or accountability.

    Now the party has encountered all of these and have been judged unfit by the electorate, who were forced to live in the real world all the time. It seems to me that the party has still not come to terms with that reality, which will probably have its impact next Monday morning.

    I think back to people like David Steel with respect. The part had real ideas then, not fantasy ones.

  • @ Roland

    I suggest that the style of our exit will be such that it is unlikely to be amicable and hence the EU would be unlikely to look favourably upon our request for a trading relationship…

    It isn’t about whether they like us or not, it is about money. Their companies and industries want to sell their goods to us so of course they will agree trade deals.

    How many BMW’s do you see on British roads? Why won’t Germany want a trading relationship with us?

  • Roland “In all the shouting about UKIP, what concerns me is that every one seems to have overlooked UKIP’s achilles heel”

    They’ll never have to negotiate with anyone because what they will achieve is a shift in the mainstream parties so that the Tories or Labour will have to offer a referendum then abide by its result. Already Cameron has been forced to promise a referendum.

  • The idea that we would lose UK influence in the EU is overplayed. Our influence is around 8% of the vote, with majority voting becoming the norm. Many of the other states think very differently about trade matters such as protectionism, living within budgets, and the CAP to name but a few.

    Furthermore, the EU is no longer the driver of major trade agreements. That has moved up to the UN and WTO where the UK currently has no input, being represented by someone from Brussels. Outside of the EU we would have our own input in trade meetings.

  • Jayne Mansfield 21st May '14 - 10:22pm

    @ Peter,
    What in your opinion are the fantasy ideas?

  • Little Jackie Paper 21st May '14 - 11:27pm

    Roland – I think that there could be an amicable exit from the EU. It might be less-than-amicable I accept, but compared to (say) the implications of a Greek EZ exit, the UK leaving on OK-ish terms is not implausible. My feeling is that free-rider access to parts of the EU probably won’t happen though.

    A UK exit from NATO on amicable terms….now there’s a thought exercise.

  • jedibeeftrix 21st May '14 - 11:49pm

    “A UK exit from NATO on amicable terms….now there’s a thought exercise.”

    Why is it a thought exercise?
    Why would we want to do it?

  • Jenny Barnes 22nd May '14 - 8:35am

    Once again, banging on about UKIP’s policies not LD ones. UKIP voters aren’t interested, IMAO, in doing anything else but saying “we don’t like LibLabCon parties, and we don’t care” so it’s fairly pointless arguing with them. Let’s hear about what the LDs plan to do if elected, not why Danny doesn’t like UKIP.

    Eleclink does NOT link the French & British electricity grids; it’s a 1GW HVDC interconnector. The grid is 50 cycle/ac. It’s a great project, HVDC interconnectors are good news – we presently have a 2GW interconnector to France, pulling in their spare nuclear (at 08:28 on 22/5 it’s running at 1.8Gw, approx 5% of UK demand) and 0.5 Gw one to Holland, which picks up surplus european wind energy. From the point of view of the UKgrid managers, they are more like quickly turn onandoffable power stations, rather than extending the 50 cycle grid.

    jedibeeftrix “Why would we want to do it?” So we could invade France? (for the avoidance of doubt, this is a joke)

  • jedibeeftrix 22nd May '14 - 8:59am

    Despite my limited facility for humour i still picked up on that. :p

  • @Jayne,
    The energy policy, published about a year ago, is immature fantasy.
    The accelerating rise in immigration cannot be sustained.

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