EU-Commissioners Verheugen & Potocnik address EU Liberal Youth Congress

LYMEC calls on Europe to rise to the challenge of globalization

Around 150 representatives of various European liberal youth organizations gathered in Berlin this past weekend at the annual congress of LYMEC, their European umbrella organization. Top speakers included EU-Commissioners Verheugen (Enterprise and Industry) and Potocnik (science and research). The congress was equally addressed by other distinguished speakers: Guido Westerwelle, Chairman of the German FDP, Markus Löning, Vice-president of the European Liberal Democrat Party (ELDR), Alexander Alvaro, Member of the European Parliament, Aliou Sow, Minister of Labour of Senegal, Chris Gallaway, President of the Young Democrats of America, Johannes Vogel, President of Junge Liberale (JuLis) and Roger Albinyana i Saigi, President of the European Liberal Youth (LYMEC). Following an invitation of LYMEC, CFACT Europe Secretary General Holger Thuss also attended the meeting.

The congress’ theme “The World is Changing: What about Europe?” was addressed in three separate policy papers adopted by the congress and covering a wide range of proposed reforms: from building the internal coherence and democratization of the EU through a new short-term treaty (replacing the unsuccessful Constitutional treaty), to the need for greater investments in research and development and a more united and proactive role for Europe in the world.

“Europe’s today requires leadership which is able to move beyond the basic political and ideological division. Our leaders must sit down and clearly outline what our common priorities are: the reform of our economic and social welfare systems, the completion of the Internal Market, the consolidation of a truly energy market, a common approach to the threat of terrorism and to the challenges rose by illegal immigration. In a globalized world, EU needs effective responses to these challenges” said Roger Albinyana i Saigi, President of LYMEC in his speech at the opening of the congress.

Highlight of the conference was however the appearance of Mr. Gunter Verheugen, one of the most market-oriented members of the EU-Commission. Though his speech included the usual EU-talk such as calling “the” European youth to “actively involve in the process of strengthening the Union as a political project” and “We need more Europe and not less.”, he also presented some inconvenient truths, such as a rather strong criticism of the current French and EU-protectionism, the need for more competitiveness as the centerpiece of any successful market, that politicians cannot create jobs but are responsible for sound legislation, and that there is no contradiction between sound economic and sustainable ecological decisions.

Although Verheugen spoke in favor of the Kyoto Accord, he made clear that a consistent labor market is more important than a strong focus on a low carbon economy. Eventually he also spoke in favor of a deeper European integration in the areas of foreign policy, justice and home affairs, research and innovation. “EU must be politically stronger in order to address the challenges of today’s world.”
The congress equally adopted a number of resolutions and motions supporting more more flexible labor markets to “make sure that the unemployed make an effort to regain employment”, urging for a liberalization of immigration policies (“Migration has always been a part and fundamental right of human nature.”), and demanding to remove Iran’s resistance from the EU list of terrorist organizations. Other resolutions dealt with university affairs, transsexual people, tourism, fiscal harmonization in the European Union, Europe-Mediterranean partnership, Western Sahara, Darfur crisis, relations to Cuba, the EU internal market, and internal affairs.

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