On Saturday 7 October, more than 80 individual members and their friends assembled in Maastricht, the Netherlands, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of the European Union. Hosted at the regional government building, members looked back to the achievements of the past 25 years and forward to the next 25 years.
Members were welcomed by provincial governor Theo Bovens who reminded the individual members that it was the Maastricht Treaty which established European citizenship. In his speech, ALDE Party President Hans van Baalen MEP said that as politically active citizens, the individual members are the “salt and pepper” of the ALDE Party. For many reasons, “the Maastricht Treaty is a landmark and we should celebrate it,” continued the ALDE Party President who emphasised that Europe should go forward together and that it will only be possible if we have “a new and younger generation in charge, with different experiences, not somebody of yesterday.”
Honorary President of the European Federalists and former MEP Andrew Duff spoke on Brexit and which way forward for the United Kingdom and the European Union. He said: “I think we will be missed. This is a defeat for us all.” He continued: “The only good thing after the Brexit referendum is that the EU reform deal of David Cameron is put away to the archives, as it would have put an end to the idea of an ever closer Union.”
In the afternoon, members discussed in working groups on the questions of the European Union, 25 years after the Maastricht Treaty: “Are we strong and united?”; “What future for the Euro and the European Monetary Union?”; “A Europe of the nations or the regions?”; “What about ALDE Party’s individual membership, is it an engine for the development of pan-European political parties?”.
Steering committee member Thalia Ntoka closed the conference: “Despite all the problems our big European family faces, we should feel lucky. Lucky because thanks to the Maastricht Treaty and everything happened after that, we cherish peace, freedom, stability, prosperity, safety, high living standards and lately no mobile phone roaming charges, isn’t that just great? But unfortunately, we still don’t seem to be happy.” She continued: “I am not afraid of the future and for the next two years, we have to promise to ourselves that we will deliver something truly pan-European, and that we will help all those countries in need to stay in this family of nations and keep cherishing all those wonders those great people back in 1992 created. This should be our legacy. It’s time for the individual members of the ALDE Party to rebuild our future. It’s time for the next big step!”