21 Mar, 2024

Liberal lead candidates share EU vision at Congress

European election lead candidates from ALDE Party members discussed major issues on the European agenda during the second day of ALDE Party’s Extraordinary Congress in Brussels. 

Following the election of ALDE Party’s lead candidate and the adoption of the 2024 electoral Manifesto, European liberals came together again to set the liberal agenda for the next five years and beyond. 

The day at Congress was opened with a keynote speech by Belarusian democratic leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who praised liberals for their steadfast support to democratic resistance against Putin and Lukashenko’s regimes. 

“For many years, ALDE Party has been a strong voice that supported Belarusian democracy in the European Parliament and beyond. You were among the first that supported us because you understood that the Belarusian fight for freedom is also a fight for Europe and its values,” she said. 

“Europe cannot be free until every European nation is free. Liberals know very well that the fight for freedom and democracy is a global fight. Together, we can make Belarus a success story, and make Europe a space free of tyranny, oppression and war.” 

The day continued with a panel debate entitled “Making Europe safe: Strengthening security, defence and democracy”, moderated by ALDE Party Vice-President and USR lead candidate Dan Barna. 

Panellists included lead candidates of ALDE Party members Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy (D66, NL) Sigrid Friis (Radikale Venstre, DK) and Helmut Brandstätter (NEOS, AT). 

“We need to do what we have to do to support and defend Europe and Ukraine. If we need to postpone some of the measures for a cleaner Europe because we need energy now to face this threat which is in front of our door, we should have the power to take these decisions,” said Barna. 

“Europe can be a giant if we team up. If we work together much more closely, then we have a formidable force also in terms of defence and geopolitical power that we need so badly. It is not rocket science, it is political will,” added Gerbrandy. 

“All of the crises that we as liberals have to tackle are interconnected. The new threats are hybrid, and safeguarding Europe’s national security also involves protecting critical infrastructure and enancing our cyber-resilience,” said Friis. 

“When we talk about the United States of Europe, it means nothing else than to live together in a common Europe with all the chances we can give each other in this wonderful continent. We can explain it to people with our hearts, it’s also time for vision and for small steps as far as bureaucracy is concerned,” concluded Brandstätter. 

Finally, the day wrapped up with another panel debate on Europe’s autonomy, enlargement and reform, moderated by Renew Europe Vice-President Katalin Cseh MEP (Momentum, HU). 

EU lead candidates João Cotrim de Figueiredo (Iniciativa Liberal, PT), Morten Løkkegaard MEP (Venstre, DK) and Ivanna Volochiy (Kustība "Par!", LV) were joined by Memli Krasniqi, leader of ALDE Party member PDK in Kosovo. 

 “Competitiveness is back on the agenda: we are lagging behind our competitors, and we need growth in order to pay our bills, pay for weapons and ammunition to Ukraine, to fulfil all commitments we have on climate change,” said Løkkegaard. 

“We have come so far in understanding who belongs to our family. Ukrainians are so brave in their fight, because for them it is a question of existence, but we need to make sure that our citizens understand that it is a threat to their way of life too,” said Volochiy. 

“We don’t need just money, we need talent, we need people: we won’t be able to retain talent in Europe if we don’t grow. If there’s one objective the EU should have, it’s to find out how to grow strongly again everywhere, because it underpins the quality of life of every single European citizen,” explained Cotrim de Figueiredo. 

“Enlargement cannot remain a purely technical process. We need to rebuild trust, we need the EU to be strict and fair, and we need to avoid making this a binary process. We have been discussing about the potential of a gradual accession process, and I think that is the way forward,” said Krasniqi. 

You can rewatch the panel debates below or on our YouTube channel. 

If you want to view photos from ALDE Party Congress, check out our Flickr channel. 

For some of the top social media moments, search #ALDECongress on X and Instagram. 

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