Graham Watson MEP
Liberal Democrat Member of the European Parliament for South West England and Gibraltar
A local champion with an international reputation
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Published on Monday 28th November 2011
The seminar, Quo Vadis, Europe? featured several high level speakers, including three former Finnish Prime Ministers (Anneli Jäätteenmäki, Matti Vanhanen and current Party Leader Mari Kiviniemi) as well as ELDR Party President Annemie Neyts-Uyttebroeck MEP, ELDR Vice President Dick Roche and Senator Thomas Byrne from the ELDR Party's Irish members Fianna Fáil.
In the respective keynote speeches, the Euro crisis and Finland's role in the European cooperation was given center stage. While Matti Vanhanen pointed to that neither a pure confederation of member states nor a European Federation is to the benefit of smaller members of the EU, who are instead in need of a confident role of the European Commission as the guardian of the treaties, both Anneli Jäätteenmäki and Mari Kiviniemi said that the main focus of the EU needs to be on the benefits of its citizens. The EU can do great things for e.g. mobility of university students or in health care, but that sometimes tends to be lost in the current European crisis.
ELDR President Annemie Neyts-Uyttebroeck also built on this, pointing to the fact that crises come and crises go; but the most important thing in governance is what you do in between the crises. The current crisis has revealed immense mismanagement in certain European countries over a number of years, and we need to learn from that. That is also why we need more, not less, Europe to counter the crisis, with an enforced role for the European Commission and stricter surveillance of countries that are not managing their economies properly.