The European Liberals have launched their election campaign putting the fundamental civil liberties and freedom at the heart of their battle. They began their march to the ballot box with a launch in Brussels, where they defended Liberals against accusations that they are partly responsible for the financial crisis.Annemie Neyts MEP, the president of the European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party said: “They have contributed to each and every important piece of European legislation and regulation, always trying just like the liberal commissioners have been doing, to strike the right balance between effectiveness, efficiency, transparency principles and pragmatism.” Following just behind civil liberties on the Liberals’ manifesto is the importance they put on the free market, and how they believe the free exchange of goods and services is essential to the EU’s economic competitiveness. Marco Cappato MEP, from Italy’s Partito Radicale said: “This is a Europe of national states more than ever before. And yet we believe in a broader Europe, a European project that focuses on the rights of the person and the individual rights to democracy and freedom.” The Liberal group is hoping for a re-run of the period between 1999 and 2004, when it held the presidency of the European Parliament thanks to an anti-socialist alliance with the conservative European People’s Party. The leader of the EP Liberal group, Graham Watson, said: “There’s a large part of the European People’s Party who recognize that the market economy is still the most powerful tool that we have to lift people out of poverty quickly, which the left does not recognise or does not want to recognise.” It is likely the group will need to forge alliances with other parties because it is thought the Italian Liberals will breakaway and join the European Socialists.