As the drafting committee of the ALDE manifesto for the 2019 European elections came together in Brussels on Friday 2 March for the first time, we took the chance to sit with the committee's Chair Taavi Rõivas and discuss his vision for a liberal Europe and the preparations for the manifesto.
Find below a wrap-up with the most relevant quotes by Taavi Rõivas during the interview:
On the manifesto process
"As the ALDE manifesto committee, we have the challenge to find the best ideas not only from ourselves or our member parties, but from a greater audience, in order to phrase the liberal vision for Europe. Liberalism is the answer to many questions and challenges that Europe is facing right now. We all agree that Europe needs more liberalism, more optimism and more opportunities and our task is to find the best wording for that, so that other people understand it and support it."
"We want to take the manifesto process as a wider process than just something discussed in Brussels. That is why, we have already asked for the input of some of our member parties and we will also now organise expert forums around Europe to include the experts' opinion too. The expert forums are divided in topics, such as digitalisation or defence and security, and at least one of the manifesto committee members will join each time."
"Liberal parties around Europe are very eager to reach as many citizens as possible and that is why I think ALDE member parties will have the best result in history in the 2019 European elections. I see a lot of motivation as well as many new member parties that bring in new opportunities."
"I don't want the manifesto to be too technical and nobody wants to read it. I hope that we will have a manifesto that will be inspiring not only for liberal politicians, but for people who want to share the dream of a free, safe and prosperous Europe and where every single person can feel that this is their home."
On the potential content of the ALDE manifesto
"It is quite clear that European people want liberal answers to main problems hoping to become more prosperous. This means more freedoms within the European Single Market and more free trade with other groups of countries. It also seems to me that Europeans don't want to be afraid of narrow-minded nationalist movements who think Europe is always the problem and our answer is the opposite: Europe is the solution to many of the problems that our societies are facing. Thanks to Europe we have peace and more prosperity. It is safe to say that we will have a very pro-European and optimistic manifesto."
"I think populists will try to get their stand also in the European elections and I am quite confident that in many countries liberals are their main opponents. Liberals are the ones who have a vision for Europe while populists are the ones who try to break Europe apart."
"Historically liberals have been very open to listen to fresh and new ideas from young people. From my experience being engaged with politics at a young age, I can say that usually youth organisations and the young members of political parties have the best ideas."
"There is a number of European countries that don't have the freedoms that we are used to in the European Union and even in some countries in the EU basic freedoms are being challenged. Therefore, we should take this very seriously and never take our freedoms, our peace and our prosperity for granted, we should work for them."
How to have your say on the manifesto?