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 Thursday 9th December 2004
Addressing the first Congress of the new Party of European Democrats at the Hotel Amigo in Brussels today, Graham Watson, leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe faction in the European Parliament made a keynote speech in which he stressed the following points:
• The new political grouping in the Parliament is a vital development to strengthen the hand of pro-Europeans against a rising tide of euroscepticism. The 88 member grouping represents 12% of directly elected MEPs (including 19 from the new Member States), includes 17 different nationalities and 27 political parties speaking 16 different languages.
• The marriage of the Liberals and Democrats is a long term project - a fusion of liberal and democratic philosophy to reinvigorate debate about the benefits of European integration and the need to work together more in response to global economic and security challenges whilst preserving the essence of our open and free society.
• The relationship cements the need for renewed vision of how the Europe of 25 Member States can deepen its commitment in new areas such as justice and home affairs or common external actions whilst at the same time addressing immediate concerns of competitiveness and cohesion.
Recalling the 10 point programme that Liberals and Democrats jointly approved in July, Mr Watson expressed an ambition for the new ALDE political formation to organise "our shared beliefs into a broad church of ideas for Europe . to an extent unimaginable to our fathers and grandfathers.".