Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Europe at Brighton

Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 16th September, 2007

There was a well-attended consultation session on Europe this morning at the Liberal Democrat Conference in Brighton, chaired by former diplomat Sir Colin Budd. He is heading the working party currently refining the party’s position on Europe, with a target date of next September. Among the questions addressed by speakers from both the invited panel and the floor was how to ‘sell’ Europe to our often Euro-sceptic electorate, especially given the anti-European vitriol of so much of the Press. Just as the people in ‘The Life of Brian’ demanded, ‘What have the Romans done for us?’, many Britons are now asking, ‘What has Europe done for us?’ That’s why I have given a number of presentations to both LibDem and non-party audiences around London on that theme over recent months.

This morning, I stressed how important it is that we show how relevant Europe is to all communities in our diverse society, whatever their ethnicity, religion or class. That means that there has to be a degreee of education involved, but we also need to consult with different groups about what they would like to see from Europe, as well as maximisning the benefits of being citizens of the EU. In London, in particular, the LibDems need to reach out to other EU nationals, as well as to the different parts of the British and Commonwealth population. But we also need to get the message across that we don’t believe that everything Brussels does is best. There is plenty of room for improvement in the EU’s efficiency, and some issues covered by EU laws and regulations probably need to be reptraited, as they are more appropirately dealt with at a national or even local level.

  

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