The Brief: European Liberals and Democrats - a closer look

The Brief: European Liberals and Democrats - a closer look
By Euronews
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In the run up to the elections we are profiling the European Parliament's political groupings, this time it's the turn of the Liberals, who are seeking to create a new group post-elections with the French President's En Marche politicians.


In the six months running up to EU elections, ALDE leader Guy Verhofstadt found himself in the middle of a "poster war" with Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban who accuses him of wanting to bring massive migration to the EU.

The Belgian politician has frequently accused Orban of sucking up European money while despising its rule of law.

He's been the leader of the liberal group in the European Parliament since 2009.

The ALDE (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe) group has 69 MEPs from 22 countries - the fourth biggest in the parliament.

"Decades ago the power was monopolized by two parties always: by the socialist at one hand, and the conservatives at the other hand. I strongly believe that one thing will happen during in the election of 2019: that this old tired political system will be whipped out by us and the new movement we are going to create together, friends," Verhofstadt claims.

Of the EU's 28 member states, six have liberal governments: Denmark, Estonia, The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and Slovenia.

The ALDE group hopes to persuade French President Emmanuel Macron's En Marche party to team up to create a new "progressive" political family after the elections.

As one head of the Franco-German axis that "boosts" integration efforts, Macron has been asking for "a European renaissance", especially to overcome populist threats.

"The strength of the European people is actually being many people. When the fear comes back, when the restlessness regarding the world is present, when the doubt gets installed in the democracy... the anger restarts and with it the oldest and the worst hate emerges," French president Macron explains.

Macron is completely against the process of selecting the European Commission president as the leader of the party which wins the most seats.

He wants EU leaders to make that choice, so ALDE presented a Team Europe.

Five women and two men; including Verhofstadt.

But it is Margrethe Vestager that is widely seen as the main candidate to lead the European Commission - she's raised her international profile by slapping large fines on US tech companies as competition commissioner.

"It comes with concrete solutions, and ambitious standards to defend our borders; our planet, our freedom. The responsibility to secure a sustainable and inclusive Europe, where we feel safe," Vestager said at a campaign event.

Fair and sustainable trade deals are a core issue for liberals.

They argue it can help create a more sustainable economic model, including in terms of environmental and labour standards.

The party is open to controlled migration into the EU, seen as a driving force for a multicultural Europe.

And despite Brexit, the liberal group is in favour of EU enlargement - the adding new members to the bloc.

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