30 Jan, 2018

A chat with Markus Löning

On Monday, thousands of people watched our Facebook Live with Markus Löning, ALDE Party Vice President and long-standing member of FDP, as we discussed the current political situation in Germany and his vision on the upcoming European Parliament elections. This is our first Live Q&A in 2018 with leading Liberal politicians on several European topics. Make sure to like us on Facebook to stay up-to-date.

Find below a wrap-up with the most relevant quotes by Markus Löning during the interview:

On FDP's comeback to the Bundestag

"We had four years to prepare and to renew the party and I would like to praise the new leadership for their hard work. Nobody was counting on FDP four years ago and now we are back. The key messages of the campaign were that FDP is here to make Germany a modern country, especially after four years of grand coalition of CDU and SDP taking slow steps to reform the country and not addressing issues that we addressed instead, such as education and digitalisation. We also addressed the question of migration and how can we bring together our wish to provide protection to refugees while ensuring that people feel borders are safe."

"FDP was the one who at some point took the decision to walk out of the negotiations to join a possible Jamaica coalition (CDU, FDP and the Greens), but we were not the ones who made the deal impossible. We saw that there was nothing to take out from CDU ,but also the Greens took a very ideological position. We were on negotiation talks for four weeks and I was part of the negotiation team on the foreign policy and human rights, and you could see that the Conservatives were very relunctant to give anything from their side and while we could have done some agreements with the Greens on civil liberties or digitalisation, they also gave total priority to addressing climate change in a rushed way. So at the end of the day, when we saw that neither CDU or the Greens would move to any of FDP's priorities, we couldn't see a possible government coalition that could reform Germany and bring it forward."

On FDP's new Members of Parliament priorities

"The good news is that there are now 80 FDP Members of Parliament and around three quarters of them are new to the Bundestag, so they are very enthuastic and looking forward to start working once the government is formed. One of the first issues they have pushed for is an initiative for a new law to regulate hate speech online. As liberals, we think that it should be judges and not private companies deciding what is hate speech and what is not."

Another grand coalition for Germany

"We would have wished to have a majority which would have brought Germany forward economically and on civil liberties, but also which would have pushed for a new agenda in Europe. We will see that some of that will also be in the government's programme of Merkel and Schulz, but the difference is that they take it slowly and they don't address critical issues, such as the digital agenda. On the other hand, they also want to go too far on some European federalist-like issues, such as the European common debt, while we want more common European foreign policies or a common European defence."

A German-French motor?

"I don't like the idea of a German-French motor, but I believe that we are community of 27 and everyone must and should be on board. Obviously there are some governments that push more the agenda than others, but I don't think you can give the responsibility to bring Europe forward to only two governments, it should be up to groups, individuals and governments."

Towards European elections

"In the next European elections, ALDE has high chances to be the third largest group in the European Parliament and if we are lucky, we can even be second. We should be ambitious about that and make sure to energise all the member parties in our Member States, but also our individual members. FDP is definitely going to be part of this process and I am sure we will see strong engagement from our leader Christian Lindner because Europe is at our heart, it is essential for German Liberals, it has always been and it will always be."

"ALDE has a fantastic team that is starting to prepare our manifesto under the leadership of Taavi Roivas. We think it needs to be a manifesto that shows that way forward."

On Brexit

"We need to go beyond criticising Theresa May's government. Either if we like it or not, they are the government, and we need to find a solution that is good for the United Kingdom, but also for the rest of us. We need to make sure that there is a good economic cooperation in the future, especially considering the importance of London as a financial hub for the whole continent. I don't want to see a future where all the important financial hubs in the world are only in Asia and America and not in Europe."

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