The European Liberal Forum is glad to present “Faces of Liberals“: the voices of the people behind the scenes of our Member Organisations, regarding the Conference on the Future of Europe.
Between January and March 2021, we held a “digital meet-and-greet consultation” with our Member Organisations around Europe. Our purpose was to understand their needs and priorities on the future of Europe. The Members involved, shared their valuable thoughts on how to move liberal ideas forward in a United Europe. With the opportunity to gather the ‘intellectual’ Faces of Liberals we ran a dedicated campaign to share these ideas and visionary content.
During this enriching experience, we learnt that Liberals across Europe want a strong and united Europe with liberal values as a bedrock. To achieve such a goal, liberals call for increased involvement of citizens in European decision-making processes, including greater participation of the youth when making decisions that will affect their future. Liberals further agree in including EU neighbourhood countries in decision-making processes and defend Eastern Europe and the Western Balkan’s place.
When it comes to international relations, liberals hope to see more robust relationships with external actors and highlight the need to stay ahead of geostrategic changes. As a requirement, Europe should present a common front to face these challenges while defending liberal values.
A strong and united Europe is also needed to reject populism, misinformation, and simplistic solutions. The consulted Members believe in a constructive holistic dialogue and strong partnerships within the region as solutions to the growing misinformation and populist ideas.
Contrary to populists, Liberals across Europe are optimistic about the future and see the current pandemic as an opportunity to build a better future. The pandemic grants us the opportunity to rethink our values and strengthen them “more substantially and less ritually”.
We thank all the contributors for such an inspirational campaign. #FacesOfLiberals make us strongly believe that a positive future with grounded optimism is possible. We just need to work for it.
“The future of the European Union depends on working with countries to the east, south and west of the Union. A priority should be the development of good working relationships with countries like China, Russia, the United States, and blocks of countries in Africa, South America and the Middle-East. However, the European Union needs to have liberal values and policies as the bedrock of those international relations, which then will be transversal to all the areas of interaction.”
Ricardo Silvestre, International Officer, Movimento Liberal Social
”Not being part of the European Union does not mean being outside of the European decision-making processes. Equality, coexistence and solidarity are the most important pillars for our future within the EU. We must strive to raise awareness about the importance of social and political responsibility within Western Balkans and spread the european liberal values furthermore, because we are Europe too!”
Anela Lemeš, Executive Director, Boris Divkovic Foundation
“The European Union faces today some of the most serious challenges in its history. Not only do we have to fight the Covid pandemic, we also have to deal with the evolving geostrategic changes. It is necessary to present a common front in the face of these European and global challenges, while at the same time we solidify internal cohesion, based on democracy, the rule of law and respect for the freedoms that are the basis of European identity.”
Luís Menezes, President of the Board, Movimento Liberal Social
“The pandemic has forced liberal democracies to put in contrast fundamental freedoms and inalienable rights that we have long taken for granted. This cultural and political contradiction is an opportunity for Europe to go back to debating about these freedoms and rights, to re-establish them in a more substantial and less ritual way.”
Giorgio Vernoni, Member of the Studies Committee, Centro Luigi Einaudi
“The global emergency has raised theoretical and practical challenges in many areas and a wide-spread uncertainty affects people’s lives. In our opinion, the role that EU should play in the next future is – on the one hand – establishing correct remedies under the perspective of public health and envisioning a way out from the economic downturn; on the other hand, coping with democratic procedures under pressure over health emergency.”
Beppe Russo, Director, Centro Luigi Einaudi
“I call for a strong, united, and well-versed Europe that can take the helm in confronting one of the greatest threats of our age – the global pandemic. The pandemic represents a litmus test for the EU. More than ever, the EU needs to champion in multilateralism and a rules-based international order, and at the same time strongly reject populism, misinformation, and simplistic solutions.”
Dr. Šárka Prát, Executive Director, Institut pro Politiku a Společnost
Board Member, European Liberal Forum
“Every single European citizen contributes to what Europe is. We all share the common values of democracy, rule of law and protection of human rights. Commitment to our values requires the commitment of every voter in the European Union. This calls for a stronger European Parliament, transnational list for the EP elections, direct elections for the President of the European Commission and EU support for our non-EU neighbours. For the support for journalists and civil society organisations to actively defend our values. Because Europe is all of us. We are Europe“
Martine van Schoor, Head of the International Office, Stichting IDI/D66 International
“Our dream for the EU is to be a beacon of hope for every person fighting for Liberty in every corner of Europe, demonstrating solidarity and unity while defending our common values and baldly facing those who seek to undermine what is dear to us.
Covid-19 was another signal demonstrating that powers striving to undermine our common values are willingly ready to abuse even cataclysmic tragedies to achieve their mean goals and wage disinformation campaigns against the idea of strong, united Europe, undermining the aspirations of those, who are willing to return to the European family. The Future of Europe can and should be bright – and definitely should remain open. Open for new ideas, people and countries – especially for the Eastern Neighborhood countries, aspiring to join and fighting for our European future.”
George Mel, Chairman, Europe-Georgia Institute
“Turning our backs on populism and misinformation, Europe now stands on the threshold to shape a better world through constructive holistic dialogue and partnership. To bridge fragmented sections of society through integrated action and inform in creative, simple and validated methods. Thus, enable the EU’s continuing narrative for a safe, inclusive, advanced, and sustainably viable society where people wish to live, work, grow and thrive in a cohesive world.”
Christopher Gleadle, CEO, The Paddy Ashdown Forum
“The pandemic has shown that issues like public health, rule of law or the rising youth unemployment need a stronger and proactive European coordination.
For 2021, Young Liberals expect the EU to not only show more unity but also actually consult the next generation when talking about the Next Generation EU.
Let’s not lose focus from the EU’s political and structural priorities and finally launch the Conference on the Future of Europe.”
Bàlint Gyévai, Secretary General, LYMEC