Innovation that benefits and unites us
In our digital age, access to the internet is crucial for equal opportunities. In our liberal Europe, there will be no virtual borders. Through the EU we have abolished mobile phone roaming charges and restricted ‘geo-blocking’, so that British shoppers can buy goods and services from websites across the EU. We will continue to strengthen cross-border protections for consumers.
The EU has already made great steps towards building a Digital Single Market. We want to continue working within the EU to complete this, harnessing the full potential of innovative technologies and ensuring that people can enjoy the same digital benefits wherever they are in the EU.
Liberal Democrats will encourage competition among companies in the digital space, and we will support the decisive use of European and UK competition powers to prevent the tech giants from exploiting consumers and to ensure innovation through competition.
We believe that the EU should be the first to create a solid legal framework for new technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence and others to be used in the economy and public life.
Legislation should, however, be focused on applications that use these new technologies and not on the underlying technologies themselves, since this would otherwise limit innovation and the creation of new applications.
We aim to make digital the default for all public service delivery, to increase efficiency and make services more accessible.
Addressing the issues of cyber-security, data protection and privacy is a top priority. There can be no digital society without these basic requirements being met.
Innovation is often driven by small and medium-sized enterprises that are the backbone of prosperity in Europe. We will continue to facilitate the creation of more jobs through easier access to finance, simpler rules for investment funds to support new, innovative businesses across Europe, encouraging knowledge and technology transfer from universities and research institutes, and greater opportunities for young entrepreneurs.
"In our liberal Europe, there will be no virtual borders."
European values are Liberal Democrat values
In May 2019, when voting for Britain’s representatives in the European Parliament, we all have a fundamental choice to make.
What kind of Britain and what kind of Europe do we want to live in? Do we work within the European Union to promote freedom, prosperity and stability, or do we stay stuck in the times of nationalism and growing authoritarianism?
Working together, we have achieved peace and prosperity on our continent.
The Liberal Democrat vision is one built around a free, democratic, entrepreneurial, prosperous, sustainable and united Europe open to the world. A Europe anchored in the four freedoms of movement of people, goods, services and capital.
A Europe where human rights, the rule of law and democracy apply equally to all. As Liberal Democrats, we believe in you, the individual. We trust in your own talents, potential and sense of responsibility, and your right to make your own choices in life.
We are more than 500 million citizens in the European Union. For centuries, even as European civilisation flourished, it was often interrupted by wars, division and repression.
In the 20th century, Europe was a continent still divided by walls and trenches. But in recent decades, we have been breaking down the barriers that divided us.
We have learned to cooperate, to make decisions together, and to shape our own future. As Europeans, we have built common understanding and institutions for democracy and justice, and now we have the responsibility to safeguard them.
Working together, we have achieved peace and prosperity on our continent. That is a tremendous achievement; it should not be taken for granted. The European Union is a positive ideal for many others in the world; an example to follow.
History has taught us that dignity and freedom for every individual are the building blocks of peace, prosperity and progress. Through strong liberal institutions, the rule of law and an independent judiciary, Liberal Democrats are committed to protecting and promoting human and civil rights.
In the face of the abuse of political or economic power, as liberals we defend the inalienable right to a life of self-determination, regardless of birth or belief, gender or sexual orientation. We want a Europe that is proud of its diversity and works for the benefit of all. We believe that our diversity is our strength.
"As Liberal Democrats, we are the keepers of these core European values."
Reasonable debate, responsible conduct, respect for evidence and tolerance of diverse opinions all strengthen society immeasurably. We want equal and fair opportunities for everyone.
We want to leave a healthy planet to future generations. We seek to empower everyone through education. Every person should be able to live the kind of life that they choose.
As Liberal Democrats, we are the keepers of these core European values.
In this election, vote for Liberal Democrat MEPs who will champion these values. Our MEPs will join a powerful group of like-minded liberals, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.
With 68 MEPs in the current Parliament, the ALDE Group already exerts decisive influence and is set to grow further. The more Liberal Democrats we elect, the more we will be able to pursue these liberal values.
These are the only elections where Liberal Democrat representatives can be elected for Gibraltar – as part of the South West region. The people of Gibraltar voted overwhelmingly for the Liberal Democrats in the 2014 European elections (67%) and we pledge to continue to support their rights in Europe and to self-determination.
Confronting populism and authoritarianism
Britain and the entire European Union are being threatened at every turn by rising anti-liberal forces and political paralysis.
Authoritarian, nationalist and populist movements within the UK and the EU are seeking to undermine the openness, pluralism and tolerance that Britain has historically championed and that are shared at the heart of the European Union.
These anti-liberal forces are fomenting cultural conflict. They wish to turn our liberal values inside out. They claim to protect our freedoms, but in fact they limit them. They claim to defend security, but instead they make us unsafe. They claim to speak for the people, yet they vilify and attack anyone who is different.As the world changes, the European Union needs to lead.
Today we face profound challenges: Brexit; cross-border crimes such as terrorism and human trafficking; youth underemployment; potential trade wars and protectionism; the revolutionary impact of technology, especially artificial intelligence; unfair trading practices and the challenges brought by competition from other rising economies like China; climate change; Donald Trump’s antagonism towards NATO and disregard for Europe; Putin’s Russia undermining European security and launching chemical weapons attacks on UK soil.
As the world changes, the European Union needs to lead. Liberal Democrats want Europe to be strong, to be willing and able to act, and to be at the forefront of world progress.
This European election in 2019 is about the soul of Europe and our promise to the next generation of Europeans. Liberal Democrats and our liberal allies in the European Parliament have always been progressive reformers.
We want to lead the European Union forward and adapt it to the changing realities of the 21st century.
By working together with our European neighbours, we can harness globalisation and other global trends to generate growth and jobs in the UK.
By retraining workers and tapping into new economic opportunities, we can overcome the challenges and ensure that everyone reaps the benefits. The EU can clamp down on abuses by global corporations in a way that Britain cannot do on its own, for example in tackling tax avoidance and misuse of personal data.
"The EU can clamp down on abuses by global corporations in a way that Britain cannot do on its own, for example in tackling tax avoidance and misuse of personal data."
Protectionism, an inevitable result of Brexit, threatens what Liberal Democrats stand for. It distorts economic activity, impoverishes nations and locks the poorest nations out of the richest markets.
It is our duty as liberals to defend the benefits of free and fair trade. The UK’s position in the EU gives us greater negotiating power to secure better trade deals than we ever could on our own, with higher standards for employees, animal welfare, food quality, environmental protection and anti-corruption.
We want to boost infrastructure, invest in education and establish the legal framework for a digital Europe that ultimately makes life better for everyone in the EU. We want to simplify bureaucracy and renew the social contract so that everyone in Europe can participate in strong, thriving and innovative economies.
Freedom of movement
It gives British people the opportunity to freely work, be together with their loved ones, study and retire anywhere in the EU. Our current deal as members of the EU allows the UK control of our borders and the ability to refuse entry to criminals and other dangerous individuals.
Freedom of movement has brought the UK tremendous social, economic and cultural benefits. We are lucky to live in an open Europe, where people, goods, services and capital can flow freely. We believe that our shared European identity enriches our British, national and regional identities.
EU citizens make a huge contribution to the UK. 63,000 EU nationals work in the National Health Service in England and 104,000 work in the adult social care sector.
Overall ten per cent of the NHS’s doctors and seven per cent of its nurses are EU nationals and seven per cent of social care workers are from the EU. A third of EU doctors working in Scotland are considering leaving, compounding the existing NHS recruitment crisis.
Around 13,000 schoolteachers in the UK are EU citizens. Without EU nationals these services would be even more stretched than they already are.
Freedom of movement has also given British creative, sports and tech industries access to the best and brightest talent from the EU, giving those businesses opportunities to grow and contribute to life and prosperity in the UK. EU citizens are valued members of our communities.
EU citizens are valued members of our communities and we believe that they should be afforded the right to full participation in civic life, including the ability to stand for office and vote in UK referendums, local elections and general elections.
We would extend these rights to all EU citizens who have lived in the UK for five years or longer and would encourage other EU member states to similarly extend the franchise for their elections.
Education, health and opportunities for all
The UK’s place in the EU has made Britain one of the best places in the world for students to study and gain the skills that they need to give them the best possible start in their working lives.
Before the referendum, the UK’s universities received around £730 million a year from the EU to spend on research. Membership of the EU means that academics of international calibre can easily come to teach in our universities and pass their expertise on to British students.
Being in the EU also enables British students to participate in the Erasmus scheme. More than 40,000 people from the UK went abroad on the Erasmus+ scheme during 2015–16: the scheme has allowed students like these to live and study anywhere in the EU and in turn other EU students have come to the UK, enabling an exchange of cultures, broadening of horizons and the building of new relationships.
'I have enjoyed the benefits that living, working and studying in Europe offer. Why should the next generation miss out on these opportunities?'
Rosina Robson, Yorkshire & The Humber Euro Candidate
By staying in the EU, Liberal Democrats will ensure that British students can continue to study wherever in the EU they choose to.
The EU also makes it easier for people such as doctors, nurses, vets and architects to work abroad by ensuring that their qualifications are recognised across Europe.
Liberal Democrats will continue to work to ensure that more qualifications gained in one member state are fully recognised in others, including by supporting joint degree initiatives.
The European Social Fund actively supports young people through improving access and integration into employment, self-employment, social inclusion, education and training, traineeships and apprenticeships, jobs and training mobility, among others.
The Fund is implemented by each member state and Liberal Democrats will fight to ensure that the UK government spends this money where it matters most, reaching those who need it most.
The EU funds research into new treatments for diseases.
EU membership also benefits the health and well-being of UK citizens. The EU funds research into new treatments for diseases and gives the UK access to cutting-edge treatments at the earliest opportunity.
The EU provides important coordination on the management of pandemics, which must be a cross-border endeavour. And the European Health Insurance Card means that UK citizens can easily receive medical treatment when they are visiting other countries in the EU.
The UK imports a great number of medical goods from the EU that are essential for treating disease.
We rely on our membership of Euratom to get access to the radioactive isotopes that are used for cancer diagnosis and treatment, we rely on imports of blood plasma – which cannot be replaced from within the UK due to the risk of variant CJD – from the EU, and the UK is also dependent on the EU for insulin. Being part of the EU also means we get ground-breaking new medicines before other countries outside the bloc.
Working together to tackle the climate emergency
Cooperation with the UK’s European partners is nowhere more crucial than in tackling the climate emergency.
Working through the EU both greatly amplifies the UK’s voice in international negotiations and enables us to jointly set high environmental standards – which in turn can be used to hold the government to account at home, for example over its failure to tackle toxic air pollution and poor water quality.
"Cooperation with the UK’s European partners is nowhere more crucial than in tackling the climate emergency."
The EU led the world in agreeing the ambitious global climate targets embedded in the Paris Agreement, and as part of the EU we must continue to work to achieve them, including accelerating the deployment of low-emission technologies, infrastructure, vehicles and products and building on Liberal MEPs’ work to ensure that climate objectives are built in to all relevant EU strategies, funds and agencies.
Liberal Democrats were the first major political party to call for a zero-carbon Britain; we believe this target must be met by 2045, contributing to a zero-carbon EU by 2050.
British strengths in offshore wind, low-emissions vehicles and green finance mean the UK is well placed to foster jobs, growth, and competitiveness at the same time as protecting the environment.
The EU-wide Energy Union helps to make energy more secure, affordable and sustainable. We want to develop it further to encourage more trade in green energy between European countries and greater investment in electricity interconnectors to guarantee energy security.
The EU Emissions Trading System, the first of its kind in the world, has cut emissions across the EU, and we will strengthen it, including by extending it to aviation. We would also promote higher EU standards of and greater investment in energy efficiency.
We would campaign for an EU-wide ban on fracking because of its negative impacts on climate change, the energy mix and the local environment.
The EU is a global leader in promoting resource efficiency and the protection of oceans and nature.
Work by Liberal MEPs has ensured that EU-wide requirements for fuel efficiency have helped make vehicles greener, saving motorists money while also tackling pollution; these should be further strengthened. We support using EU funding to drive innovation in zero-emission and autonomous vehicles and infrastructure such as charging points.
We support the development of carbon capture and storage for industrial processes, ‘negative emissions’ technologies and strategies, including ‘natural climate solutions’ such as forestry, and greater resilience for infrastructure and housing against the impacts of climate change such as flooding.
The EU is a global leader in promoting resource efficiency and the protection of oceans and nature. Liberal Democrats will build on this record by reducing the use of plastics, including through a new binding international treaty, and through more ambitious targets for reducing waste and increasing the reuse and recycling of natural resources. We will introduce a general duty of care for the environment and human rights for companies and public sector agencies.
We will establish an ambitious EU-wide action plan on deforestation, including reducing the consumption of commodities associated with the destruction of global forests such as palm oil or soya.
We will support greater efforts by the EU to tackle illegal and unsustainable trade in timber, wildlife, ivory, and fish, lead negotiations on a Paris-style agreement to save global biodiversity for future generations and ensure better protection for wildlife, habitats and the countryside.