Liberal Democrat European Group AGM: Dec. 2023

6 Dec 2023
The LDEG Logo

Here below is the Chair's report, highlighting the work that LDEG has been doing over the past year.


Chair’s Report - LDEG AGM 5 December 2023


It has been a real pleasure to have been Acting Chair of LDEG since the beginning of the year. I was elected by the Executive after David Chalmers became Chair of FIRC. My first act was to go into hospital for an operation and so David effectively continued for a couple of months.


It’s also been a challenging year. The dedication of our activists to getting local councillors elected in May and the work done in Mid Beds by-election means that we did not have as many meetings as we would like to have had in the course of the year. We were able to organise fringe meetings in York and Bournemouth and the occasional webinar. Our plan for the next year is to have at least a monthly event. 


The German-based Friedrich-Naumann-Foundation have launched an EU-UK dialogue to improve relations between our countries. One meeting was held in London at the NLC and further discussions were held in Bournemouth. We are very grateful to the financial support given by FNF for these meetings. We are already planning work for the coming year - a meeting will be held on the results of the Dutch elections and what we can learn, as well as probably looking at youth exchanges.


LDEG is also involved in the European Movement. As many of you know, their new Chief Executive is the former LibDem MP NIck Harvey and we have established a good working relationship with him. Unfortunately the National Rejoin March was held during the Party Conference in Bournemouth. This was not officially an EM event, but was supported by the EM: I made clear our disappointment that most of our members could not attend. 


I missed the ALDE Congress in Stockholm because of a mess-up with my ID card, but it was a real success with some real wins for our motions. The recent ALDE Council meeting in Bucharest also saw a motion passed on Gaza which was accepted by all sides as being a fair and balanced motion, and very much reflected our party’s position.


Sal Brinton, ALDE Bureau Member, has been leading a working group of ALDE values and I’d like to thank all of those who recently attended the webinar that we held recently. This document will be finalised at the next Congress in Brussels. That Congress will also be deciding on the ALDE manifesto for the European elections. We shall not be participating in the discussions or on the vote (unfortunately!).


We welcomed the Windsor Framework with our friends from the Alliance Party and Fine Fáil. This has lead to a massively improved working relationship. I am personally involved in a number of Horizon Europe projects, and the signing yesterday of the UK’s association agreement is a big step forward. We want to work with the Young LIberals on re-associating with Erasmus+, as well as looking for further opportunities to increase our relationships with Europe.


Our communications have not been as good as I would have liked this year. We spent much of the year setting up the new website after we were told that our old one would be discontinued. We hope you like it. We have a new mail programme in operation which is slowly being tweaked and should allow more regular communication. We’re always conscious that we should not send too many emails and would like to do one per month, but this needs an editor (any volunteers?).


Finally, I’d like to thank David for his work previously as Chair and highlight our trip to Berlin early in the year. The participants were warmly welcomed by our friends in the German FDP and they have invited us back to attend one of their party conferences. Our next trip may well be to the Netherlands, but this will probably depend on the timing of the negotiations for government, and our Danish friends would also welcome a trip to visit their country.


Our focus in the next year must be on the General Election. We need to make sure that the manifesto really reflects our party’s stated position on rebuilding trust and rejoining. We need to campaign on that and I hope that we all play a role.