A Roadmap back to Europe
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.
The Liberal Democrats have today called on the UK government to urgently forge stronger diplomatic relations with our European neighbours, to help counter the threat posed by Putin's Russia.
The call comes as part of a new motion on Europe, passed by the Liberal Democrats at their Spring Conference, which sets out a plan for building trade and cooperation with our European partners.
The motion sets out a comprehensive roadmap to improve the UK's trading relationship with Europe, benefitting British families and businesses. It acknowledges that ties between the UK and Europe have been deeply damaged and will have to be built back gradually over time.
The four-stage plan is as follows:
- Taking immediate action to improve links with our European neighbours, including building closer ties in education by reforming the government's Turing scheme.
- Further steps to build confidence and establish stronger relationships with Europe, including seeking cooperation agreements with EU agencies, returning to Erasmus Plus and seeking to reach a UK-EU agreement on asylum seekers.
- Deepening trade with Europe, including by negotiating greater access for our world-leading UK food and animal products to the Single Market, securing deals on sector-specific work visas and establishing mutual recognition of professional qualifications.
- Once these steps are complete and the ties and trust between the UK and Europe have improved over time, aim to place the UK-Europe relationship on a more formal and stable footing by seeking to join the Single Market.
Layla Moran Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Europe, MP said:
At this dark moment, our security depends on urgently forging a relationship that works with our closest neighbours. Countering the grave threat posed by Putin means we must stand tall with our European allies instead of needlessly antagonising them, while working closely together on issues like energy security, trade and helping Ukrainian refugees.
We cannot afford to be disunited in the face of Russian aggression. For too long, our ties with Europe have been defined by petty squabbling and the government's overly ideological approach. British people and small businesses who are tangled in red tape are paying the price and they deserve better.
The reality is that we need a way forward which works for Britain - one where we stand with our allies, reduce costs for businesses and make people better off as a result.
Our comprehensive roadmap will start a new trading relationship with Europe - with British businesses and families benefiting as a result.