The European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party
(founded in 1993) is a liberal party
, mainly active in the European Union
, composed of 55 national parties from across Europe.
Having developed from a loose confederation of national political parties in the 1970s, the ELDR is now a recognised European political party
incorporated as a non-profit association under Belgian law
. Despite this legal status, the ELDR Party has yet to achieve significant grassroots involvement and retains much of the character of a mere confederation
of national political parties
As of 2006, the ELDR is the third-largest political party represented in EU institutions, with 74 MEPs and 9 members of the European Commission.
The Party is politically represented in the European Parliament by the ALDE Group, formed in conjunction with the centrist European Democratic Party, which is dominated by ELDR MEPs and led by Graham Watson, a British Liberal Democrat and former leader of the separate ELDR Parliamentary Group.
Nationally, ELDR member parties participate in the national governments of 11 out of the 27 EU Member States, contributing five prime ministers:
The youth wing of the ELDR Party is the European Liberal Youth (LYMEC), which is predominantly based upon youth and student liberal organisations from across Europe but also contains a small number of individual members. LYMEC is led by French politician Aloys Rigaut, who was elected to a two-year term as LYMEC President in May 2008, and has a collective membership of over 200,000 young liberal Europeans.
The leadership of the ELDR Party is Annemie Neyts
, a Flemish MEP
for the Belgian VLD
and spokesperson on Foreign affairs, security and defense for the ALDE group. Neyts was elected for a two-year term of office at the meeting of the ELDR Party Congress held in Bratislava
in September 2005, defeating former Dutch foreign minister Jozias van Aartsen
, parliamentary leader of the Dutch VVD
. She was re-elected for a two-year term at the ELDR Congress in Berlin in 2007.
In her mission statement for the party presidency, Annemie Neyts declared: “The most fundamental tenets of ELDR, liberalism, the spread of freedom, democracy and economic development by virtue of integration into the EU and the EU herself are being questioned as seldom before. The need for a strong, well-articulated, future-oriented answer from ELDR, the European political party that embodies liberalism has never been greater. I intend to spend a large amount of my time helping ELDR meet the huge challenges it is faced with.”
Former President of Liberal International between 1999 and 2005, Annemie Neyts was Belgian State secretary for Foreign Affairs in 2000-2001 and Deputy Minister for foreign Affairs in charge of European Affairs, International trade and Agriculture between 2001 and 2003. She was previously a Minister for the Brussels region and Member of Parliament in Belgium.
The day to day management of the ELDR Party is handled by the Bureau, the members of which are:
ALDE Group Leaders
Other Party Officials
The ELDR Congress is the sovereign body
of the ELDR aisbl, usually meeting on an annual basis, and as such its primary purposes are to:
- Elect members of the ELDR Bureau
- Debate, and adopt, resolutions on matters of policy;
- Adopt the ELDR Party's electoral manifesto for European Parliament elections
- Make amendments to the ELDR Party Statutes
The voting members of the ELDR Congress number around 600-700, and are composed of:
- Members of the ELDR Council
- A number of representatives nominated by each of the Member Parties based on the number of votes that Party received at the last set of European Parliament elections,
- 2 representatives nominated by each of the Affiliate Parties, and
- 10 representatives nominated by the European Liberal Youth.
In addition to the voting members of the ELDR Congress, the following are entitled to attend as non-voting members:
The ELDR Council acts as the ELDR Party's de facto executive committee
, meeting in between meetings of the ELDR Congress, and is empowered to:
- Approve the budget of the ELDR Party;
- Approve ELDR membership applications; and
- Speak and act on behalf of the ELDR Party in between meetings of the ELDR Congress.
The voting members of the ELDR Council number around 100-150 members and are composed of:
- Voting members of the Bureau,
- Two or more representatives nominated by each of the Member Parties based on the number of votes that Party received at the last set of European Parliament elections, and
- One representative nominated by each of the Affiliate Parties, and
- One representative nominated by the European Liberal Youth
In addition to the voting members of the ELDR Council, the following are entitled to attend as non-voting members:
ELDR Political Leaders' Meeting
In addition to the formal structure of the ELDR Party, there are convened at least two Political Leaders' Meetings a year in order to exchange views on the items on the agenda of the European Council
and more general views on the European political situation.
The members of the Political Leaders' Meeting are:
- The President and Vice-Presidents of the ELDR Party
- ELDR Members of the European Commission
- ELDR Heads of Government
- The political leaders of ELDR Member Parties
- Other ELDR Ministers
- The President of the European Liberal Youth
History of pan-European liberalism
Pan-European liberalism has a long history dating back to the foundation of Liberal International in April 1947. In March 1976, the Federation of Liberal and Democrat Parties in Europe was established, which gradually evolved into the ELDR Party with a group in the European Parliament.
At an extraordinary Congress in Brussels held on April 30 2004 the day before the enlargement of the European Union, the ELDR Party incorporated itself under Belgian law, being the first step towards legal recognition as a European political party.
It originated as the European Liberal, Democrat and Reform party grouping with seats in the European Parliament, but on April 30, 2004 (the day before the enlargement of the European Union) reformed itself as a pan-European political party, although it has yet to organise itself at a grassroots level.
This was followed later that year by the establishment of the ALDE political group in the European Parliament, in collaboration with the newly established EDP Party.
ELDR Member Parties contribute 9 out of the 27 members of the European Commission
(formerly National Movement for Simeon II) (Nacionalno dviženie za stabilnost i vǎzhod)
- Yabloko (Российская демократическая партия "Яблоко")