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  • Article: Nov 25, 2022
    By Rob Harrison in YouTub

    On Saturday 19 December, Liberal Democrats congregated at Millennium Point in Birmingham.

    Major world events such as the war in Ukraine, developments in China, Africa, India, the economic crisis in the west and the world post pandemic as well as references to Brexit and Britain's relationship with Europe were on the agenda.

  • Liam McArthur MSP (Creative Commons Wikipedia)
    Article: Nov 20, 2022
    By Rob Harrison

    Liberal Democrat Liam McArthur MSP has slammed the Scottish Government as they once again failed to confirm that a replacement for the Erasmus student exchange scheme will be in place by next September.

    Despite years of promises, Scottish Liberal Democrats revealed last month that Scottish Ministers have had no meetings specifically about their promised Scottish Exchange Programme; no funds are currently allocated to it; and it does not even have a confirmed timetable for a consultation process. Meanwhile, a £65 million scheme in Wales has already lined up over 5,000 international exchange opportunities from this September with funding for the next 4 years. In response to a question from Mr McArthur in the Scottish Parliament today, Minister Neil Gray was unable to confirm that such a scheme would even be up and running by next September (2023).

  • Page: Oct 20, 2022

    LDEG Constitution

    Adopted 19 October 2022

    1. Name, Objects and Definitions

    1. The name of the Organisation shall be the Liberal Democrat European Group - abbreviated LDEG.
    2. The Objects of LDEG shall be:
      1. to seek to achieve the objects set forth in the Preamble to the Federal Constitution of the Liberal Democrats;
      2. to support, directly or indirectly, the election of Liberal Democrats as Members of Parliament and members of local and other elected public authorities;
      3. to admit and actively recruit new members to the Liberal Democrats, and encourage existing members to renew their membership;
      4. to participate in the formulation of the policy of the Liberal Democrats;
      5. to promote diversity of cultures and to represent the interests of under-represented groups;
      6. to seek the closest possible relations with the European Union and other countries in Europe;
      7. to campaign for UK membership of the European Union (EU) and peace, prosperity and liberal values in Europe by informing, assisting and motivating Liberal Democrat Party ('Party') members and the general public;
      8. to promote a European Union democratically accountable to its citizens, respecting the diversity of its peoples and traditions, and able to act effectively on those aspects of policy best handled at European level;
      9. to work with elected Liberal Democrats, Alliance of Liberal and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) MEPs, sister parties and Liberal Democrat Party members in the pursuance of Europe-related work;
      10. to encourage Liberal Democrat Party members to join and operate within cross-party organisations promoting European unity, in particular the European Movement UK, and to influence their work and policies.
      11. to work within ALDE and like-minded organisations in the furtherance of European integration.
    3. LDEG may also be referred to as "grŵp ewropeaidd democrat rhyddfrydol" in Welsh or "buidheann eòrpach deamocratach libearalach" in Scots Gaelic.
    4. "Federal Party" shall refer to the Federal Party of the Liberal Democrats.
  • Article: Sep 5, 2022
    By Rob Harrison
    1. Catherine Bearder opened the meeting at 10 am and welcomed the participants
    2. Apologies for absence
      Several apologies for absence were received
    3. Minutes of 2019 AGM and matters arising (web page)
      These were approved
    4. Christine Jardine - currently Treasury Spokesperson - discussed her work
    5. Chair's report (web page)
      There was a brief discussion
    6. Party review of SAOs and AOs (chair verbal report)
      The party is currently carrying out a review of the SAOs and the AOs.
      LDEG will be making an input.
    7. Financial and membership reports (web page)
      These were approved
    8. AOB
      Nothing was discussed
    9. Meeting ended at 11:30 am.
  • David Chalmers with EU Flag in Background
    Article: Sep 5, 2022

    It has been almost two years since the last LDEG AGM, which took place online on 24th October 2020. Unfortunately we had to postpone the AGM from its original date in the Spring of this year as I came down seriously with Covid - which was followed by bouts of illness amongst other the members of our Exec, and coupled with the need to avoid disrupting campaigning in Parliamentary by-elections and the summer holidays, we finally settled on this date.

  • Article: Jul 1, 2022
    By David Chalmers

    Liberal Democrats sign Dublin Diversity Declaration supporting greater LGBT+ representation in politics.

    On 6 June at the recent ALDE Party Congress in Dublin,the Liberal Democrats, alongside 31 of their sister parties from across Europe, signed the Dublin Diversity Declaration, pledging their support and encouraging greater LGBT+ political representation at all levels of government.

  • Article: Jun 11, 2022
    By David N Chalmers

    ALDE Congress in Dublin

    Whilst most of you were celebrating the Queen's Platinum Jubilee last weekend, a number of us travelled to Dublin, as part of the Lib Dem delegation to the ALDE Congress taking place from 2nd to 4th June - the first physical meeting of our liberal and democratic sister parties from across Europe since our last get together in Athens in October 2019.

  • Layla Moran outside in a park
    Article: Mar 13, 2022
    By Robert Harrison

    At the Liberal Democrat Conference, a roadmap was agreed to improve the UK's trading relationship with Europe, benefitting British families and businesses, helping counter the threat posed by Putin's Russia. The motion calls for closer ties in education through the Turing scheme and Erasmus Plus. The UK should seek cooperation agreements with EU agencies and work to reach a UK-EU agreement on asylum seekers. It should deep trade with Europe, including by negotiating greater access for UK food and animal products to the Single Market. Eventually, the UK should place its relationship with the EU on a more formal footing by seeking to join the Single Market.

  • Graham Jones
    Article: Feb 6, 2022
    By Graham Jones

    We are pleased to reprint below a copy of a speech made by our Executive Member Graham Jones to the Oxford Branch of the United Nations Association

    When Daniel suggested I might like to talk about Britain's new relationship with the rest of Europe, as Chair of Oxford Region of the European Movement and a member of the Movements' National Council, I thought it might be useful to focus on one aspect, and to do so in a way that allowed discussion. Half of us wanted to stay in the EU in 2016. Half of us didn't and my side lost. The narrowness of the vote ensures the issue remains historically unsettled, but for now and perhaps for the next ten to twenty years our future lies outside one iteration of Europe, the European Movement. Our involvement in others continues, from the Council of Europe to the European Broadcasting Union. Everywhere our presence is valued, and nowhere more so than in NATO, which for all that it appears dominated from the other side of the Pond is essential, with a very few exceptions, a defensive alliance of the nation states of our Continent.

  • Article: Sep 29, 2021

    The spring 2021 conference instructed the FPC to 'carry out a programme of work, including consulting
    widely within the party, to determine the best possible future framework for the UK-EU relationship across
    all policy areas, with the aims of: (a) demonstrating the benefits to UK citizens and businesses of a much
    closer relationship compared to the government's inadequate measures; (b) recommending roadmaps for
    the UK to rejoin the Customs Union, Single Market and other EU agencies and programmes as appropriate;
    and (c) maximising public support for eventual UK membership of the EU.'
    The FPC has appointed a small group, chaired by Duncan Brack and including representatives of the
    parliamentary party, the Federal International Relations Committee and the Liberal Democrat European
    Group, to implement the conference instruction. We have decided to approach our task through a series of
    conference motions and papers rather than one big one. Since we cannot realistically cover every possible
    relevant topic through conference motions, we are also encouraging our parliamentary spokespeople to
    put forward proposals for closer and stronger relationships with the EU in their spokespersonship areas.
    We organised a consultation session at conference in September, and we are collaborating with the Liberal
    Democrat European Group in organising these regional events, in order to give party members a chance to
    tell us what they think are the priority policy areas we should address, what the possible solutions within
    each area are, and the messages the party should use in promoting closer cooperation between the UK and
    EU. This is our initial list of key topics -

    Cultural, artistic and educational ties
    We thought this was a good topic to begin with, so the FPC submitted a motion to conference on
    'Rebuilding our Cultural, Artistic and Educational Ties with Europe'. The motion called, among other things,
    for the UK to rejoin the Erasmus Plus scheme, to establish a European cultural fund and to improve the
    Youth Mobility Scheme. It was passed without opposition.

    The key topic is obviously the trading relationship between the UK and EU. For next year's spring
    conference we are planning a motion on Single Market and Customs Union membership. This is such a
    complex area, covering, among other things, freedom of movement, social, health and environmental
    standards and the Northern Ireland Protocol, that we'll be accompanying it with a short paper, to be
    published alongside the conference agenda. There is no doubt about the party's commitment to rejoining
    the Single Market and Customs Union - that was made clear at spring conference this year- but there are
    many issues to consider about the practicalities, the phasing and the impacts. Among other things, this
    should provide at least partial solutions to the recent supply-chain problems, including shortages of HGV
    drivers and staff in the transport, farming, food and catering and care sectors.

    Climate change and energy
    The FPC's policy paper on carbon pricing, which was approved by conference, includes the proposal to link
    the UK Emissions Trading Scheme with the EU ETS, thus increasing the effectiveness of emissions trading;
    and rejoining the EU ETS would be a requirement of UK entry to the EU in any case. Other potential areas
    for cooperation include working together with the EU in international climate negotiations; meeting
    emissions reduction targets jointly with the EU (in the same way as EEA countries do); and promoting
    greater interconnection with EU energy networks.

    Natural environment
    Potential areas for collaboration include re-adopting EU standards in areas such as pollution control, water,
    air, chemicals, biodiversity, waste, genetically modified organisms and environmental impact assessment
    (most of this would be required under Single Market membership in any case, but this approach could be
    adopted in advance); working with the EU on its new measures to require businesses to protect the
    environment, and human and labour rights, in their supply chains; and working together with the EU in
    international biodiversity negotiations.

    Rights of EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU
    This topic covers guaranteeing EU citizens' rights in law, including physical proof of settled status;
    automatic upgrading for those with pre-settled status; strengthening the Independent Monitoring
    Authority; and reiterating our commitment to the European Social Charter. We could also urge the UK
    government to ensure that EU member state governments are upholding the rights of UK citizens.

    Issues under this heading include police and security cooperation, including access to the Schengen
    Information System (information-sharing for security and border management); rejoining Europol and
    Eurojust and the European Arrest Warrant; and arrangements for the reciprocal nature of judgements, for
    example under the Lugano Convention, which clarifies which national courts have jurisdiction in crossborder
    civil and commercial disputes and ensures that judgments taken in such disputes can be enforced
    across borders.

    Key aspects include alignment and co-operation as far as possible with EU science programmes such as
    Horizon Europe; participation in satellite systems including Galileo, EGNOS (the pan-European satellite
    navigation system) and Copernicus (the EU's Earth observation programme); participation in Euratom; and
    measures to improve access for EU nationals to UK academic institutions.

    Topics include workforce issues such as recognition of professional qualifications, scrapping the
    Immigration Health Surcharge, improving visa routes; agreement on health insurance cards (EHIC/GHIC)
    with EEA member states; cooperation with the European Medicines Agency; and the possibility of joint
    pandemic preparedness exercises between UK and EU in the future.

    Foreign affairs, security and development
    This heading covers a wide range of issues, including cooperation over security challenges such as those
    posed by Russia or China; the impacts and possible strategies towards unstable regions such as Afghanistan
    or the Middle East; and cooperation over development challenges, including Covid vaccination and climate
    finance. Other possibilities include coordinated use of 'Magnitsky sanctions' targeted on individuals
    responsible for human rights violations or corruption; and the creation of a shared forum for European
    states to address foreign and defence policy issues.

    Comments on this paper are welcome, either in person at the LDEG regional events and conference on 30
    October, or by email to policy.consultations@libdems.org.uk.