Interview with Alexander Lambsdorff MEP
The Dutch elections have just taken place and resulted in strong support for the Liberal parties. What are the implications of the result of the election for the European Union? And will they influence the upcoming elections in France and Germany?
The elections in the Netherlands were a blow for Europe’s right and their anti-EU and nationalist populism. Contrary to what many commentators wanted us to believe, voters did not opt for easy answers and nationalistic sentiments. Rather, they voted for parties that offered a progressive and pro-European message.
Today, we see similar trends in France and Germany. In France, the social-liberal Macron leads the polls and in Germany, the ratings for the populist AfD are continuously going down. Liberals in Europe should use this momentum and fight for our values and convictions using positive campaigns and well-structured arguments.
In January, you were reappointed as Vice-President of the European Parliament. What activities do you plan to undertake as a part of the Human Rights and Democracy responsibilities in your portfolio? Are there any initiatives that you would like to highlight?
As Vice-President for Democracy and Human Rights, I am focusing on two main areas. Firstly, election observation to support credible elections in countries outside the EU, as they are essential for any democracy, bringing legitimacy and raising public confidence in institutions. Secondly, as chairman of the executive committee of the European Endowment for Democracy (EED). At the EED, we work to offer quick and unbureaucratic assistance to democratic movements, activists and NGOs.
Looking Eastwards and concerning human rights, how do you see the state of EU-Russia relations? And how do the activities of the EU-Russia Parliamentary Committee and other forums, like the Boris Nemtsov Forum, contribute to improving mutual dialogue?
The relations with Russia are clearly strained by the violation of international law that was the illegal annexation of Crimea. Having said that, the EU has an interest in Russia being a constructive partner. Consequently, we should adopt a two-track approach: upholding the sanction regime in response to the unlawful annexation of Crimea on the one hand, while demonstrating the will to keep open channels for communication on the other. At the same time, fora such as the Boris Nemtsov Forum offer a great opportunity for dialogue with Russian liberals.
The European Commission presented at the beginning of March a White Paper on the future of the European Union, in which it sets out five scenarios for future directions of the Union. What direction do you think the EU should take?
The White Paper of the Commission was a disappointment. Instead of offering a clear vision for Europe, the Commission tried to please everyone by presenting well-known alternatives. In my view, we need to build a stronger and better Europe that addresses the big challenges of today: fighting terrorism, securing our external borders, ensuring the stability of the euro, and creating economic growth in countries that are still facing high rates of unemployment.
03. Apr 2017 by Intern