This year the ALDE party met at Athens for its congress. The European Liberal Democratic political family was founded in 1976 ahead of the first European elections and was established as the first true transnational political party in 1993. Today the European Liberal family consists of more than 60-member parties across the continent and more than 80 members of the European Parliament. Since November 2015, Hans van Baalen has been President of the ALDE Party.
ALDE MEPs are members of the new Renew Europe Group in the European Parliament and with 108 MEPs they are the third-biggest group in the European parliament. Last year at the congress in Madrid, Astrid Panosyan, one of the co-founders of La Republique En Marche (LREM) spoke on behalf of its leader Emmanuel Macron and made the commitment to work closely together in the new European Parliament with us. Today, we see that there is a united parliamentary group under the leadership of Davian Ciolos.
In the evening of our first congress day, Friedrich Neuman Stiftung sponsored the welcome reception/dinner around the swimming pool at the Hilton. During this very nice evening we met all the new parliamentarians who have been chosen in the European parliament and some of the potential candidates for the ALDE Bureau. The next day was started with some workshops and followed by the opening ceremony.
The official opening gave us inspiring speeches from many members.
Hans van Baalen began welcoming us ending his speech with the wish: “let’s unite and let’s go forward together”, followed by Davian Ciolos, the new Renew Europe leader in the European Parliament who stressed on our common values. The Renew Group defends the liberal values actively. Important is creating welfare, while promoting economic opportunities, while mobilizing people. How can we transform challenges into opportunities? To create jobs; to mobilize the young generation to transform Europe and to have open mindedness is necessary to achieve this.
Xavier Bettel, the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, started giving vent to his deep regret about Brexit. He is convinced that if all details about Brexit had been said before the elections, then Britain would not have said no to Europe. He is one of the several liberal PMs and is making some important improvements in Luxembourg. The separation of church and state, legalizing abortion, liberalizing drugs and same sex marriages are some of the new steps that he has taken with his government. He also wants to stress that Europe is a peace project and we must never forget this. That is something we can still ask our grandfathers who were willing to fight for our freedom. He received a warm applause from all participants.
Margrethe Vestager, executive Vice-president of the European Commission for a Europe fit for the Digital Age. She stressed that in this time, it is important to see each other, only digital contact is not enough. It is much easier to have a discussion once you are together in a room. One of the important issues for liberals is, that in a discussion you can disagree and still all belong to the same party, that is part of our liberalism. Of course, we find the rule of law, to act with common sense and to respect each other also very important aspects.
Vera Jourova, vice-president for Values and Transparency. She added to focus on our liberal values such as equality, rule of law and respect. And stressed on the importance of the monitoring of corruption in the media, dis-information, medical freedom and protecting our journalists. They need more legal protection. We must pursue a peaceful and sustainable future. These issues will be important in the European parliament in the next term that has just started.
We will see our liberal MEPs and members of the Commission in their new roles working for our liberal values and for the time being Brexit and the result of that discussion will have much impact on the future of Europe. There was also an inspiring speech by Liberal International President, Hakima el Haiti, stressing that we liberals within Europe and in the rest of the world need each other and must support each other to achieve our goals of a liberal society, especially in the current situation of rising nationalism and populism in so many corners of the world.
There were many sessions in which all the amendments for the resolutions were discussed. We as member delegates had to be present during these sessions. Not only were the voting procedures for resolutions important but new vice-presidents had to be appointed. So, voting for persons was also one of our issues. One of the candidates was Baroness Sal Brinton. Baroness Sal Brinton will reach the end of her term as President of the UK Liberal Democrats and she finds it a privilege to become a member of the ALDE Bureau. Her motto was: “We need to fight like Liberals to defeat populism and prejudice”.
In the evening we were welcomed in one of Athens beautiful palaces: The Zappeion, this building was built for the Olympic Games and used in 1896. Many important events took place such as the official signature of the documents by which Greece became a member of the European Parliament on 1 January 1981.
The next day resolutions were accepted and finally the result of the election of the members for the ALDE Bureau was announced. Hans van Baalen was re-elected as ALDE Party President. INLW is very happy to announce that Sal Brinton has been chosen as one of ALDE’s new vice-presidents. The other new members chosen are: Alexander Graf Lambsdorff (Germany), Annelou van Egmond (the Netherlands), Ilhan Kyuchyuk (Bulgaria), Timmy Dooley (Ireland), Daniel Berg (Hungary).
It was again an interesting and pleasant meeting where many of our liberal friends were present. Many of us will follow the discussion on Brexit even more closely and hope that this important issue will be solved at the end of January 2020.
Next year in 2020 the ALDE congress will take place in Stockholm, Sweden.
This year the ALDE party met at Madrid for its congress. The European Liberal Democratic family consists of more than 60-member parties across the continent and more than 50 members of the European Parliament who are part of the ALDE Group. Hans van Baalen MEP (Member of the VVD) has been president of the ALDE Party since 2015.
The congress was set in the setting of the 2019 elections. It will be an important year for all Liberals with the coming elections.
Another important theme is the Brexit. This will overshadow the planned debate about budget, migrations and what is the future of Europe. Europe still favors a soft Brexit and any realistic idea from the UK is welcome. The Liberal Democrats are very clear, that they want to stay in Europe, but they are not strong enough to be able to change Brexit to Stay.
It is important for liberals to work together for the future of a stronger and united Europe. We must keep reminding people of what we have achieved together. But we must also listen to what the people of Europe want. Now we can see two visions of Europe: the vision of populists and nationalists and the vision of those who want to relaunch the European dream. It is important to build bridges even if we don’t agree on everything.
The discussion should be focused on the future of trade, investments and innovation. Most liberals are optimistic and hopeful that the liberals can win.
Juli Minoves said: “We need to fight beyond Europe. The Liberal struggle will be strong if it goes beyond any border”. We must show people the proven costs of anti -Eu policy.
“Let 2019 be remembered as the year when the EU regained its confidence and began moving forward again”, quote from Micheál Martin (Ireland) as also the following, “Brexit is one of the most destructive decisions taken by a free nation in decades. I want to thank all ALDE member parties for all their support in helping Ireland to diminish the impact of Brexit”.
A considerable amount of time was spent on the presentation of the “ALDE Manifesto: The Liberal vision for the future of Europe”. There was a good and healthy debate on the many suggested amendments to the Manifesto. After voting on the sometimes-reedited amendments the ALDE Manifesto was adopted. The parties can use this important document for their campaigns for the European elections in May 2019.
Another issue at the congress was sustainable growth. One of the conclusions was that cities around the world need to take real action to achieve sustainable growth. Some statements were given by participants: We should eat less but better meat, as large-scale industrial production hurts the environment, but small scale can enhance biodiversity.
Let’s save our blue oceans! Every second breath we take comes from the ocean, we need it to survive, strong message from MEP Meissner, The Liberals must lead the way to a more sustainable, innovative and safe world, MEP Federley (Sweden).
Apart from many interesting sessions we were taken to the Museo del Prado for a lovely Congress dinner reception. Several new members were elected for the Alde Board.
We also made some new contacts and hope to see many ALDE members again. We wish all the MEP’s a successful campaign in 2019!
This year the ALDE party met at Amsterdam for its congress. The European Liberal Democratic family consists of more than 60-member parties
across the continent and more than 50 members of the European Parliament who are part of the ALDE Group. Hans van Baalen MEP (Member of the VVD) has been president of the ALDE Party since 2015 and was re-elected during the congress.
During the afternoon VVD and D66 organized a debate on Fighting Populism.
In the discussion one of the elements was that many people have the feeling that politicians do not listen and don’t solve problems. Populists talk about fear, and often walk away from responsibilities but still they get voters all over Europe.
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It really is a wake-up call for all the parties that democracy is not easy to keep and needs maintenance every day. We as liberals must fix problems. Not try to explain what is wrong but instead give solutions and implement them.
One approach is to address emotion, so provide personality and be authentic.
As Yair Lapid, Chair Yesh Atid from Israel said, “populism was already there in the 4th century according to Socrates”
So, we must learn to find a way to cope with populism in this instable world.
Antonio Roldán, MP from Spain, finds economic populism the most important problem.
His advice was:
- You need “reform champions”
- Equal opportunities for workers
- Pro-market and pro-business attitude
- Gaining sovereignty through Europe
- Communicate well and value emotions
Also Chair Markus Loening, ALDE party Vice President, took the view that more emotion, not the policy, but the plans are important. The authentic attitude is necessary to affiliate with the problems: why, how and what are the words to use for understanding problems. It is important not to get into the frame of others. For many people the love of their country ultimately ending in patriotism is what we see in many parts of Europe. Instead of blind patriotism one can also ask the question that was asked so many years ago by Martin Luther King: what can you do for your country?
The official opening was done by Hans van Baalen MEP
and Party President and Guy Verhofstadt, MEP and ALDE group leader.
The key-note speeches were given by;
Alexander Pechtold MP and Party leader D66
Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner for Competition, Prime Minister Xavier Bettel, PM Luxembourg.
This was followed by a debate on Renewing Democracy in the 21st Century. Some statements were given by the panel members Alexander Pechtold, Albert Rivera MP, Party leader Ciudadanos, Bart Somers, Alde-Cor-President and Margretha Vestager.
On Saturday Prime Minister Mark Rutte gave a speech (for the various speeches please go to www.aldeparty.eu) and Mark Rutte was one of the members in a panel discussion organized by the Friedrich Neumann Foundation:
“Renewal, Reinvigoration, Reform a Roadmap for a successful Europe to 2019 and beyond”.
Moderator was Corinne Hörst; other panel members were Gwendolyn Rutten, Leader of Open VLD, Belgium,
Nicola Beer, FDP, Germany, Christiaan Lindner MP Party Leader, FDP Germany.
Gwendoyn Rutten said Europe is about the three P’s; Europe belongs to the People, it gives Prosperity with its free market and Europe has given Peace.
Europe has too many laws, so more focus is needed, we share ideas, but the migration problems are cause for chaos. So, a more active policy and a one border policy are necessary. European defense policy must be set up. Migration means that our identity is influenced. But we should recognize that we don’t have one identity but consist of many identities. Europe also has diversity and so many identities. Values, on the other hand, must be taught at school as well as freedom of speech and religion. We must stick up for our values. Values are not negotiable.
The core business of Europe is still: Safety and Jobs! And to invest in people and education.
There were more than 1400 Liberals present from all over Europe at this very interesting ALDE congress. Also, several members of INLW including three members of the Board, Margaret de Vos van Steenwijk (President), Lysbeth van Valkenburg-Lely (Treasurer) and Ruth Richardson (Member).
Margaret de Vos van Steenwijk
Lysbeth van Valkenburg,
Ingrid de Caluwé and Marianne Kallen are pleased to see Margaret de Vos van Steenwijk President of INLW and Flo Clucas, President of ALDE GEN shake hands with each other on the occassion of the launching of the partnership between INLW and ALDE GEN. Behind them are stated goals for the partnership.
In the last part of the Fringe Meeting INLW and ALDE GEN officially announced their decision to become partners. In working close together both organizations will be able to strengthen each other.
- Both ALDE Party GEN and INLW will work together to ensure that women and men are able to reach their full potential.
- We will work together to highlight and combat all forms of violence against girls and women.
- We will work together to bring forward appropriate campaign and policy proposals to encourage women and girls get involved in politics and in the decision making process at all levels.