For a Europe that works!

IMG_9685Last week’s ALDE Party Congress delegates from liberal and democrat parties from all over Europe adopted a common manifesto for next year’s European Election. Lousewies van der Laan, Vice-president of the ALDE Party and chair of the manifesto drafting committee, came to Brussels to present this concise document shaping the liberal and democrat’s programme for the European Parliament elections.

It has not been an easy task for the drafting committee to come up with a document that would reflect all member parties’ views on the EU and its future. But according to Lousewies van der Laan, thanks to the active involvement of politicians from ALDE member parties, who will be running as candidates for the European Parliament, the manifesto has become a real election programme and commitment by ALDE member parties is high. Though the manifesto presents the common goals of European Liberals and Democrats, ALDE Party members will be running national election campaigns based on their own election manifestos.

Lousewies confirmed that “there has never been that much interest about European elections before. It is the first election, which is really about Europe!” According to her, this is a great chance to make a campaign “about what kind of Europe we want.” In her view, mainstream parties cannot afford to go on with business as usual and have to counter xenophobe and Eurosceptic parties. Lousewies underlined that Liberal and Democrats are the only ones who do not ask more or less europe but focus on a Europe that is stronger, more efficient and works for european citizens. “Stronger also means simpler!” Lousewies rightly pointed out. “We shouldn’t defend Europe how it is; reform is necessary.” The good news is, Liberals have a very good track record in reforming the EU.IMG_9690

The Liberal and Democrats have started to take the challenge of populist parties seriously, however Lousewies deplored the fact that other mainstream parties have not yet done so as they continue defending the status quo. The European elections in May will be crucial for European political parties to reframe the debate on the EU. Liberal and Democrats have recognized the urgency of the situation and Lousewies underlined the importance of framing a new narrative for the upcoming elections. Lousewies called upon Liberals and Democrats to change the language in which they talk about European politics. “We cannot allow populist parties to frame the political debate in terms of pro or anti Europe”. Indeed, mainstream parties often tend to get trapped in the pro/contra debate instead of a discussion on how to make it better. That is why the ALDE Party has adopted an election manifesto to make Europe work!

Julie Cantalou

Pictures, source: ALDE Party