Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘European Liberal Democrats’

LibDems Must Stand Firm on Europe

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 2nd January, 2012

There have been a lot of disquieting rumours flying around the past few days that some LibDem parliamentarians and other senior figures in the Party are considering finding common ground with Conservative Euro-sceptics (or Europhobes, as they ought to be called). If true, this is a dangerous development, though I suspect it has been exaggerated in online media. The Liberal Democrats have long espoused the European Project and many people who joined the party — including former members of both the Conservative and Labour parties — did so because the LibDems have been unequivocal in arguing that European integration is vital for the longterm security and prosperity of our continent and that Britain ought to be at the heart of Europe, not floating ever further off-shore. Of course not everything about the EU is good, let alone perfect, but reform comes best from within, not from the sidelines. And the ongoing crisis over the euro illustrates the need for more effective European cooperation, not less. This was stated very eloquently at the ELDR (European Liberal Democrats) Congress in Palermo last November, with the full agreement of the large British Liberal Democrat delegation. The Tory Eurosceptics are on a roll because of their ‘victory’ in getting David Cameron to refuse to back measures put forward at the last Brussels Summit. But that is not a reason for Liberal Democrats in government to endorse any weakening of Britain’s position within the EU, or to push for the so-called repatriation of powers. That is a road that leads firmly to the exit door, which is what the Daily Mail and the Tory Eurosceptics of course want. But it is completely contrary to Liberal Democrat policy and should remain so.


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ELDR Council in Dresden

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 21st May, 2011

There was a time, not all that many years ago, when most of the meetings of the governing Council of the European Liberal Democrats (ELDR) were held in Brussels. But these days they occur all over the Continent, both to give the participants a taste of the local sister party and its activities as well as to generate some publicity in the city or country concerned. Thanks to the German Free Democrats (FDP), this weekend’s Council was in Dresden, capital of the Free State of Saxony and known as Paris on the Elbe before the British bombed it to smithereens during the Second World War. Although I did travel a lot in the old DDR (East Germany), I had never been to Dresden until now, so it was interesting to see how much of the old city — including the celebrated Frauenkirche — has been rebuilt or refurbished, especially since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Saxony had a standard of living well below the European Union average when German reunification took place, but the city benefited greatly from funds made available under the EU’s Cohesion Policy, which was the subject of a seminar attached to the Council meeting. It was good to hear from several Saxon state Ministers at the event, as well as the UK LibDems’ own Flo Clucas, who extolled how EU funds had helped Liverpool regenerate once the Trots were ousted from control of that city. The ELDR Council itself is largely an administrative affair (including the passing of urgency resolutions on such issues as human rights in Russia and threats to the Schengen Agreement), but there was a worthwhile session led by Mohammed Nosseir of Egypt’s Democratic Front on how Europe should respond to the Arab Awakening — a theme much preoccupying me at the moment and one which the ELDR will doubtless return to at its Congress in Palermo in November.


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European Liberals and Media Freedom

Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 14th March, 2010

The governing Council of the European Liberals Democrats (ELDR) met in Rome this weekend, against a backdrop of public sector strikes and a massive demonstration against the Italian Prime Minister and media mogul, Silvio Berlusconi. Few of the Council members present (with the exception, perhaps, of our Russian colleagues from Yabloko) could have envied he Italians’ situation — operating in a country in which one man wields such enormous power and is shameless about using legislation to protect his position. On top of that, the mafia and other organised crime outfits have a terrible hold on many sectors of the economy. No wonder Italian Liberals (whose main political grouping these days is Italia de Valori) look north across the Alps to the EU for stability and support.

Yesterday morning, there was a seminar session on Freedom of Information, at which I was a keynote speaker talking about freedom of the media across the EU. Those of us who work as jsnalists in the UK are comparatively fortunate in the freedom we do enjoy to express our views (providing we don’t libel anyone or endanger national security), but the recent case relating to the News of the World suggests that our system of media self-regulations (through the Press Complaints Commission) needs an overhaul. I devoted much of my speech to new media, however, and the way that so-called ‘citizen journalism’ (whereby orindary people can report and comment through blogs, twitter etc, is transforming the name of the game. Sometimes this is in positive ways, such as the transmission of eye-witness accounts or of alternative perspectives. But there are also negative sides to citizen journalism, not least the lack of editorial control and standards, which means that a lot of the material out there on the Net is rubbish or outright lies.

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European Liberal Democrats Back Turkey’s EU Accession

Posted by jonathanfryer on Friday, 20th November, 2009

European Liberal Democrats, meeting at the annual congress of the ELDR in Barcelona, this morning passed a resolution (which I proposed) stating clearly our support for Turkish accession to the European Union, providing Ankara fulfils all of the so-called Copenhagen criteria for membership. This is in sharp contrast to the negative comments about Turkey´s EU vocation made recently by conservative leaders such as President Nicolas Sarkozy of France and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, as well as the newly appointed President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy.

The resolution noted the progress that Turkey has been making with regard to the Copenhagen criteria — as acknowledged in last month’s report from the European Commission — while pointing out that more needs to be achieved in areas such as freedom of expression and the media. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s initiatives towards resolving Turkey’s longstanding Kurdish question were welcomed.

The resolution — which was finalised in consultation with the German Liberal FDP (now in charge of the Federal Republic’s Foreign Ministry) — also called on the European Union to do more to facilitate a settlement of the Cyprus dispute and to end the isolation of Turkish Cypriots.


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