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An accountable and growth-focused EU

March 11, 2012 3:44 PM
Originally published by East Midlands Liberal Democrats

Liberal Democrat Spring Conference today called for the UK to play a constructive role in the EU to drive growth and job creation, reform the fisheries and agriculture policies and promote the completion of the Single Market.

Conference also called for a number of reforms aimed at improving the democratic accountability of the EU, such as:

    1. > Ending the wasteful maintenance of the second seat of the European Parliament atStrasbourg
  1. > Respecting the principle of subsidiarity
  2. > Effective oversight of EU funds spent by national governments

Commenting, Co-Chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Policy Committee on International Affairs, Martin Horwood said:

"Liberal Democrats believe we are stronger together and weaker apart. In an increasingly globalised world, the voice of the UK is stronger when we are standing with our European allies.

"The EU is not a perfect organisation and it needs reform to be more effective. It is clear that the EU needs to be more focused on jobs and prosperity and improve its democratic accountability.

"Liberal Democrats believe that the UK needs to be at the forefront of this movement for reform to improve the EU. It is in our national interest to have a strong, vibrant economy as our neighbours as millions of jobs depend on it."


Please find the full text of the motion below:

Europe

Conference deeply regrets the approach adopted by UK Prime Minister David Cameron at the December 2011 European Council meeting, and believes that it:

  1. I. Overturned fifty years of policy of government of all colours, aimed at preventing the emergence of a two-speed Europe with theUKin the slow lane, by voluntarily putting theUKinto this category.
  2. II. Risks thereby directly removing British influence over major decisions in the EU which have a huge impact on theUK, for example in the economic governance of our largest trading market.
  3. III. Did nothing to protect particular British interests such as in the financial services market.
  4. IV. Seriously imperilled British influence inEuropeand thereby in the wider world.
  5. V. Jeopardised efforts to save the euro.

Conference believes that:

  1. The best way of promoting the interests of the British people is by working closely with other European countries.
  1. This applies especially in areas where the interests of British people differ little from the interests of other European citizens, such as:
    1. Protection of the environment, and being at the forefront of global efforts to limit climate change.
    2. Many aspects of defence and security.
    3. The promotion of a fair and open international trade system.
    4. The promotion of basic human rights and democracy across the world.
  1. The UK should support its EU partners in restoring financial stability as the basis for economic recovery by taking decisive steps towards greater fiscal union within the Eurozone which alone will restore both market and democratic confidence.

Conference however believes that the European Union needs widespread and extensive reform, and endorses long-standing and extensive party policy setting out proposals for this, such as in our manifesto for the 2009 European elections and policy papers 87, Shaping our World Through a Strong Europe (2008), and 56, Future of Europe (2003).

Conference therefore calls for:

  1. Greater democratic accountability and control of the institutions of the EU.
  1. In particular, that in future the democratic choice made by the people in the European elections, next due in 2014, should be the basis for appointing the President of the European Commission.
  1. Respect for the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality.
  1. An end to the deeply wasteful and unnecessary maintenance of a second seat of the European Parliament inStrasbourg.
  1. Sufficient effective oversight of EU funds spent by national governments to ensure that audit opinion on the EU's expenditure does not need to be qualified.
  1. TheUKto play a constructive role in the EU and build alliances with others to:

a) Drive forward an ambitious jobs, growth and reform agenda.

b) Support moves for European security and defence.

c) Build a credible area of freedom, security and justice, through co-operating closely to fight crime, ensure that family and other civil law works effectively across state borders, and protect the basic rights and civil liberties of all our citizens.

d) Promote greater flexibility in management of fisheries.

e) Promote completing the internal market in financial services.

f) Support moves to tackle climate change.

g) Require more rigorous impact assessment of Commission proposals, to ensure that the EU legislates or spends only where there is a clear added value to action at EU level.

h) Argue for further reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), to move away from subsidy of agricultural production and towards incentivising environmental protection and resource efficiency.

  1. The Liberal Democrats to continue to argue consistently fo rBritai nto play a full part in the EU, and to work with our sister parties in other countries and the European institutions to promote these goals.
  1. The fiscal compact treaty to be integrated with the European Union.