Politics

Democrats for Europe: a new momentum

Q: What is a European Democrat and what does the European Democratic Party stand for?

A: European Democrats are a central political force, and we want to strengthen the European Union. As our president, François Bayrou, always stresses: our humanist traditions drive us to reform Europe, our belief in political pluralism makes us reject the absurd dichotomy between left- and right-wing politics, and we push to go beyond the traditional divides.

For us, strengthening democracy needs to be put back at the top of Europe’s reform agenda. Democracy needs to be stronger at all levels: local, regional, national, and European. This is precisely why transnational political movements and political parties like European Democrats are so important: we believe in bringing decisions, institutions and politicians closer to citizens at all levels of government throughout the EU.A European Democrat cares about the future of others, is at home wherever they are in Europe, champions European solidarity and pushes for a Europe of solutions. We have explained these points in our Frankfurt Declaration.

We’re allergic to short-termism: we believe in long-term solutions, policies that reform Europe and investing in young people’s future.

European Democrats defend fundamental rights and freedoms, and are staunch believers in the power of education, culture, reason, lucidity and dialogue. We’re allergic to short-termism: we believe in long-term solutions, policies that reform Europe and investing in young people’s future. We want a Europe that is fair, open, engaged and admired by the world for its culture and values. And we’re convinced that our security is also based on the security of our values and culture: we should invest the same amount of money for defense and for culture; for power and for knowledge.

We want to drive this agenda forward and bring together those who believe in strengthening European democracy, bringing our Union closer to its citizens and making the most of the major opportunity offered by the Conference on the Future of Europe.

EDP

Languages, cultures, regional differences and local initiatives must be cherished because they are Europe’s strongest asset.

Q: Why is the EDP different from other European political parties?

A: Doing politics at a transnational level is in our DNA. For us, being pro-European means being active in our local communities, being involved at regional and national level, and running Europe-wide campaigns.

We are deeply rooted locally and at the same time we want to push for politics beyond national borders. Today, we have a European democracy with a vote every five years for the European Parliament, but we still lack a truly European political space — and we want to build it. For the EDP, transnational politics isn’t about Brussels telling Europeans what they should or shouldn’t do. Unlike many, our pan-European approach is bottom-up. It’s why we’re staunch supporters of multilingualism: Europe’s languages must be nurtured, and being a transnational movement requires speaking directly to citizens and using their languages daily for communications, events and policy work. During our meetings, I switch between five languages: Italian, French, Spanish, German and English. This isn’t to show off, but to do what we preach. Languages, cultures, regional differences and local initiatives must be cherished because they are Europe’s strongest asset. We’re keen to embody this on a daily basis.

Our goal is show citizens the strength of Democrats in Europe and for Europe.

There are many political parties who use the word ‘democrats’ in their party names; Christian democrats, Social democrats, Liberal democrats… But we are the real deal. We are the European Democrats, and that’s why are eager to reclaim the word in this new dynamic we’ve launched. Our goal is show citizens the strength of Democrats in Europe and for Europe.

I’d also add that our first foreign visit since COVID-19 was to the U.S. to jump-start a partnership with U.S. Democrats. In November, our MEPs were in Washington D.C. to meet with democratic lawmakers in Congress. Fighting against online disinformation, tackling climate change and new geopolitical challenges such as China, and protecting our democracies against cyberattacks and foreign interference were just some of the issues we agreed to work on together. We fully support the new Summit for Democracy launched by President Biden. Next step: welcoming them in the European Parliament in 2022.

Q: The EDP is in Renew Europe, right? How does that work?

A: Yes, we are founders of Renew Europe, and proudly so. We have 11 MEPs, and we are all energetic members of the Renew Europe group in the European Parliament. My colleagues Nicola Danti from Italy and Sylvie Brunet from France are both vice presidents of our group, so we’re an integral part of the Renew family together with the ALDE party and the Renaissance delegation, and eager to promote it throughout Europe.

We have decided to relaunch our activities, become more visible, grow in numbers and stand up for what we believe in more than ever before. On Friday December 10 during our 2021 party Congress, we adopted the Frankfurt Declaration: it’s our party’s new political backbone. It sets out our values, how we work and our top priorities for the rest of the mandate.

Q: Isn’t ‘transnational politics’ Brussels bubble-talk to avoid local politics?

A: Absolutely not, it is precisely because our movement is also based on local politicians and regional parties that we’re able to have an impact Europe-wide. Democrats believe in the power of local solutions. The EU isn’t just about MEPs, Council and the Commission, but also local politicians and initiatives. We want the EU to learn from our bottom-up approach: being visible locally and learning from solutions found in our cities and in our regions. We work much more outside the Brussels bubble and go local.

That’s why the European solutions campaign that we’re launching in 2022 is so important: it’s an opportunity for European Democrats to show a Europe that solves real problems and offers new solutions and our citizens and territories. It will also allow us to establish our distinct voice, to gain visibility, to galvanize our network across Europe, and for our parties to work more closely together and contribute to the Conference on the Future of Europe.

That’s why the EDP was created: multilingual and Europe-wide campaigns on the ground with bold ideas on how to make our Union stronger.

We want to put a spotlight on innovative ideas, initiatives or EU-funded projects that deserve it. Europe’s regions and local authorities are full of solutions we can learn from, and relay at European level. There is no shortage of projects: our regions are full of solutions and Democrats want to give them centrer stage. That’s why the EDP was created: multilingual and Europe-wide campaigns on the ground with bold ideas on how to make our Union stronger.

Q: How many member parties does the EDP have? Isn’t it risky to be a small party?

A: We currently have 19 member parties from 14 countries. This is a solid basis and we have an ambitious agenda. But recruiting new members is one of our top priorities and we’re already growing: Matteo Renzi’s Italia Viva party joined the EDP on Friday December 10, and that’s excellent news. This will strengthen our democratic movement and reinforce Renew Europe in Italy. We’re not stopping here though: 2022 will be an important year for our party’s development. We are currently looking at new allies in several EU countries. So, watch this space. This isn’t the last you’ll hear from European Democrats.

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