Annual congress of the Alliance of Liberals and Democtas for Europe (ALDE), a pan-European liberal party association, held in Amsterdam, Netherlands, between 1-3 December 2017, elected the leadership of the organization, but also sent a strong message of, and for freedom in Europe. It was attended by more than 500 voting delegates and another 1000 other delegates or guests.
A number of thereby adopted resolutions tackled various issues of freedom as understood by liberals.
The most pressing issues such as consequences of the UK`s withdrawal from the EU (Brexit) and the migrant crisis were especially dealt with.
ALDE has urged the negotiators on Brexit to uphold human and civil rights of EU citizens living in the UK and British nationals living in the EU. It emphasized that borders should be kept as open as possible, for the movement of people, as well as for free trade, education and political participation.
Migrations in general are understood rather as an opportunity than as a threat. Improved reception and social inclusion of asylum seekers was demanded and a number of concrete proposals put. Especially vulnerable groups among those should be better protected. Legal immigration should be enhanced so as to meet the demands of the job market. EU should find more permanent mechanisms for seeking work in it, while legal immigrants should be mainstreamed among other also by provision of political rights at the local government level. Illegal immigration should be dealt with through cooperation and solidarity between EU members, while tackling the problems at their roots was essential.
Democratic development in non-EU countries in Europe, such as in Ukraine, or the state of rule of law in Moldova, were also discussed, whereby ALDE strongly urged authorities to embrace and EU officials to support a more inclusive and participatory (proportional representation) election system in Ukraine, as well as called for a halt to the decrease and considerable improvement of the rule of law in Moldova.
For liberals, education is a crucial pre-requisite for freedom and a foundation of progressive society. Therefore, European liberal youth organization LYMEC has put forward a resolution titled „Educating Europe“. EU member states were called to promote, through reforms of their systems of education, the sense of European unity, encourage crticial thinking, improve and harmonize the programs of vocational training and allow student entrepreneurship, while EU is called to establish joint degree programs along exchange ones, to enable more competition in procurement by academic institutions and to promote distance learning and other opportunities arisen from the technological advance.
The Congress was addressed by several prime ministers, themselves ALDE members. PM of Netherlands Mark Rutte expressed his satisfaction that the congress was held in „the most liberal city in the most liberal country in the world“. True, Netherlands has been, for years now, on the top of the list of the countries monitored in the FNF`s Freedom Barometer. Amsterdam to its part is the country`s window to the world, where it is most visible what freedom actually means, in terms of business and trade opportunities, in terms of free thinking, education and innovation, as well as in terms of leisure opportunities.