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European Working Group

March 18, 2007 12:09 PM

A new working group, which includes our chair Ed Featherstone, has been set up to produce a consultation paper for Autumn Federal Conference. (You will shortly have the opportunity to give your comments.) The remit says, "Much has happened in Europe since the party last reviewed policy in 'The Future of Europe' (policy paper 56) in 2003: there has been a substantial enlargement of the European Union, significant uncertainty about its institutional arrangements following signature of the constitutional treaty and growing challenges (such as climate change, globalisation, migration, criminality and human rights abuses) in many of the policy areas in which the EU operates.

The Liberal Democrats have consistently been the strongest UK supporters of the EU and the most creative in putting forward proposals for its development and reform. So, as we approach the next European Parliament elections and the United Kingdom general election, it is appropriate that the party reviews policy in this area.

The FPC has commissioned this group to develop liberal policy responses to the challenges faced by the EU and by the United Kingdom in the context of the EU.

The group is asked to bring forward proposals on :

· Optimising the EU contribution to achieving solutions to major European and international challenges for the benefit of its citizens, in particular those challenges outlined in the first paragraph above

The group is also asked to address the following issues in so far as is necessary to deliver on proposals developed under the first bullet:

· Enhancing the EU's capacity to deliver progress in the policy areas of present competence, the need to develop new capabilities or streamline or remove existing ones.

· How institutional and other reform measures in an updated Constitutional Treaty are necessary to equip an enlarged EU to act effectively and democratically.

· The institutional relationship with the EU of the United Kingdom and its devolved administrations, particularly in respect of subsidiarity.

The working group should consider carefully how the development of our policy can provide positive, popular campaign messages for the next set of elections, in keeping with our long established position as a pro-European party.

The working group is also asked to take account of the principles and direction laid out in Trust in People: Make Britain Free, Fair and Green.

The working group is required to produce a consultation paper for the Autumn 2007 Party conference and a policy paper for the Spring 2008 Party conference of no more than 8,000 words."