Democratic Party insists on flexible participation in EU defence at liberals congress

The Democratic Party says it has managed to water down a proposal in ALDE's manifesto to oblige EU member states join a full defence alliance • Emanuel Macron's centrist party agrees to coalition with liberals

The liberals' congress that approved the party's manifesto for the 2019 European Parliament election was held in Madrid over the weekend
The liberals' congress that approved the party's manifesto for the 2019 European Parliament election was held in Madrid over the weekend

A proposal for the creation of a full defence alliance made by the European liberal party has been watered down to allow neutral countries like Malta to take part at will, the Democratic Party said.

The PD joined ALDE, a European alliance of liberals and centrists, last year and its representatives, Deputy Leader Timothy Alden and MEP candidate Anthony Buttigieg, took part in the annual congress held in Madrid over the weekend.

In a statement, PD said that Buttigieg defended Malta's neutrality clause by watering down ALDE manifesto obligations to a full defence alliance. This means that a country like Malta could "continue to flexibly pursue soft military operations at will instead".

The ALDE manifesto calls for the progressive introduction of Qualified Majority Voting on security matters and encourages member states to "further increase defence cooperation in areas of mutual advantage, in greater cooperation with and to complement NATO which remains the backbone of military cooperation and guarantor of collective defence for Europe".

The manifesto also argues that "in the long-term", ALDE supports more "interlocking and interoperable European forces".

PD Deputy Leader Timothy Alden (left) and PD MEP candidate Anthony Buttigieg
PD Deputy Leader Timothy Alden (left) and PD MEP candidate Anthony Buttigieg

The PD said it also opposed a clause in the manifesto that would have reduced the number of European Commissioners. The clause was eventually dropped.

The PD said that EU reforms must be achieved not merely through the threat of punishment, but via assistance, expertise and advice.

The party said it subscribed to the ALDE vision of a stronger and more democratic and accountable Europe, with real solutions for the problems people are facing today. "Partit Demokratiku and its allies across Europe will continue to champion the rule of law, the environment and a new style of truly democratic and meritocratic politics," the PD said.

During the Madrid summit, Emmanuel Macron's En Marche! entered into a coalition with ALDE for the European Parliament elections in 2019. However, Macron's party has called on liberals and centrists to broaden the coalition to parties on the right and left of the political spectrum in a bid to counter the populist threat.

ALDE Vice President Timmy Dooley will be in Malta on 17 November to address ALDE's first major event in Malta, a conference targeting young people and Europe.

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