The European Liberal Forum (ELF) is honoured to present the third edition of the Liberal Awards 2023, which celebrates the champions of liberal values and ideas and ensures their recognition and impact on the European level. This year’s ceremony took place at the House of the Capital Region in Brussels on 27 September, in the presence of the liberal political family, ELF member organisations, partners and the press. Meet the winners of three awarded categories – Liberal of the Year, Lifetime Achievement Award, and Rising Star. 

Liberal of the Year: Kaja Kallas

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas was presented with the Liberal of the Year award by Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo. 

As one of the most influential European leaders, Kaja Kallas is committed to making Estonia a more prosperous and inclusive society. In recent years, she has fostered a more liberal economic environment, encouraged entrepreneurship, innovation, and free market principles in the country. In 2023, Kaja Kallas led the Estonian Reform Party to electoral victory. This summer, Estonia became the first Baltic country to legalise same-sex marriage.  

As a tireless advocate for the Ukrainian people, Kaja Kallas, has shaped the European Union’s response to the war, calling for sanctions against Russia and urging the EU to provide more military support and aid to Ukraine. Kaja Kallas stands as an exemplary figure for liberals, as she embodies her values through policy actions that foster prosperity, inclusivity, and the protection of human rights. 

Lifetime Achievement: Guy Verhofstadt

MEP Guy Verhofstadt, former prime minister of Belgium and former leader of the ALDE Group in the European Parliament, was presented the award for Lifetime Achievement by ALDE Party Co-President MEP Ilhan Kyuchyuk, Timmy Dooley and Renew Europe Group VP MEP Katalin Cseh. 

During his long career, Guy Verhofstadt has been a relentless advocate for European integration. He has played a key role in fostering European unity, pushed for reforms that would enhance citizens’ involvement in the EU and played a key role in shaping the EU’s approach to the Brexit deal. MEP Verhofstadt has been a life-long advocate for liberal values. As a staunch defender of civil liberties, he has enacted and supported policies promoting LGBTQI+ rights, gender equality, and freedom of speech. He has raised his voice against authoritarian regimes, injustice and misuse of power. His work has left a mark on both Belgian and European politics, contributing to a more united, prosperous, and inclusive liberal society in Europe. 

Rising Star: Luis Cano

Political campaigner and founder of the Rainbow Platform, Luis Cano was presented the award for Rising Star by ELF Vice President, MEP Jan-Christoph Oetjen and Board Member Antoaneta Asenova-Bihlmayer.

As an active member and campaigner of the Hungarian Momentum party, Luis Cano is dedicated to spreading the message of democracy, equality and inclusion for all. By founding Rainbow Platform in 2022, he has elevated LGBTQI+ voices by creating role models who can inspire political engagement and change and has redefined how we approach diversity within our organisations. He has successfully pushed the European liberal family to show their commitment to LGBTI+ issues, resulting in the Dublin Diversity Declaration, now signed by over 40 liberal parties across the continent.

About ELF

The European Liberal Forum (ELF) is a Brussels-based liberal think-tank and political foundation of European liberal with 55 member organisations across Europe. We work all over Europe to bring new ideas into the political debate, to provide a platform for discussion, and to empower citizens to make their voices heard. Our work is guided by liberal ideals and a belief in the principle of freedom. We stand for a future-oriented Europe that offers opportunities for every citizen. ELF is engaged on all political levels, from the local to the European. We bring together a diverse network of national foundations, think tanks and experts. In this role, our forum serves as a space for an open and informed exchange of views between a wide range of different EU stakeholders. 

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