19 Feb, 2024

Liberals call for unity at Munich Security Conference

On 16-18 February, world leaders and key policymakers gathered for the 60th Munich Security Conference for discussions on the most pressing international security concerns.

Liberal leaders including Prime Ministers and European Commissioners attended the high-level event in Germany under the motto “Lose-Lose?”, focusing on fears that with high geopolitical tensions many governments are no longer focusing on the advantages of global cooperation.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo joined a debate focused on protecting international humanitarian law: “What differentiates us as liberal democracies from tyrannies and dictatorships is that we do respect a set of fundamental rules. If we stop doing it, we lose our moral voice.”

“People sense at their core that this is about our values, you do not invade and colonise another country in the 21st century in Europe, it is unacceptable. People feel that ultimately this will also present a security threat to Western Europe,” said Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in a debate on building a European defence union.

During her intervention in a debate on the future of Ukraine, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said Alexei Navalny’s death shows that Putin’s playbook hasn’t changed: “We should not discuss to do something, we have to do everything to stop [Putin] because history rhymes.”

The European Commission’s Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, Vice-President for Values and Transparency Věra Jourová and Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson were also in attendance as European liberals maintained their strong, global voice at the annual conference.

During a debate on aligning EU-US tech governance, Executive Vice-President Vestager said lawmakers should not regulate technologies, but the uses of it: “In 2021, the EU and US agreed that we should have a risk-based approach to artificial intelligence. But perceptions are becoming behaviours, and if democracy wants to have a chance, then we need to act now.”

Vice-President Jourová said during a debate on decoding disinformation: “We want to get the facts right and we do not want anyone to censor anyone else’s opinions, but nobody should have the official power to say what is truth and what is lie, or to say this is prohibited speech. There needs to be a much broader reaction from society.”

Finally, Commissioner Simson called upon businesses attending the conference to contribute to rebuilding Ukraine’s energy infrastructure through the Energy Community.

Other liberals to address panel debates were Christian LindnerFDP party leader and Germany's Minister of Finance, and Yevheniia Kravchuk, Member of the ALDE-PACE Group in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

You can rewatch all the full debates here.

Photo: Munich Security Conference

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