Category Archives: Brussels Labour

‘It’s the people, stupid!’ – Martin Westlake at the John Fitzmaurice memorial lecture

On Monday 29 November, Martin Westlake, Secretary-General of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), delivered the seventh annual John Fitzmaurice memorial lecture, with the title ‘It’s the people, stupid!’.

A full summary of the event will appear shortly in the Germinal section of the Brussels Labour website and in the next print edition of Germinal.

In the meantime, you can read the text of the speech in the John Fitzmaurice memorial lecture section of the website, where you can find out more about the lecture.

Brussels Labour would like to thank Martin for agreeing to deliver the lecture, and also for his very generous contribution of a banner for use at future lectures (see photos below).

A selection of photos from the event is below – for more photos, visit our Flickr page.

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European political parties – the missing link

Julian Priestley, former General Secretary of the European Parliament and a good friend of Brussels Labour, has recently published a paper for the Notre Europe foundation (set up by Jacques Delors) which he has agreed to let us put online (click here to read the paper).

Titled ‘European political parties: the missing link’, its central thesis is that Europe’s political parties are failing to make the links between the institutions and the citizen. As a result they bear some of the responsibility for the anti-EU sentiments present in many member states, and these sentiments in turn hinder the development of the parties. The importance of their role in recent EU-level decisions on key posts served only to highlight the untransparent way in which they reached their positions, resulting, as Julian puts it, “in a failure to add any discernible democratic value to the process”. Continue reading European political parties – the missing link

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Brussels Labour quiz: thanks for your support

Intense concentration as Michael Cashman reads the questions
Intense concentration as Michael Cashman reads the questions
Over €300 raised for charity
Over €300 raised for charity

The Brussels Labour quiz, held on Wednesday 10 November, was a great success – 18 teams of four packed into The Staff to hear some fiendish questions read by Michael Cashman MEP.

The raffle raised €313 for the victims of the floods in Pakistan.

A longer write-up of the will follow on brusselslabour.eu in the Germinal section, and in the next print edition of Germinal, due to be published in the new year.

Thanks again for your support!

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Brussels Labour at Party Conference

You might have thought the first Party conference after we lost power and did so badly in the general election would be a subdued affair tinged with introspection. But the atmosphere at this year’s conference was intense and energetic. Of course it had its moments of drama (especially the leadership election results on the day before conference) but none of these dented the clear sense that the Party is determined to move forward in a confident and united manner.

The media, ever keen to find a negative angle, seemed to be reporting on a different event from the one we attended. Yet the election of the new leader and his messages have accelerated the pace at which people are joining or rejoining Labour.

Much was made about the new generation, but Ed Miliband was at pains to stress that it’s not about age but about attitude. He managed the tricky manoeuvre of breaking with the past while clearly retaining Labour values and acknowledging the considerable achievements of the Labour government.

This year’s Brussels Labour fringe meeting, organised with the EPLP, attracted a record attendance of 250. Chaired by Brussels Labour’s honorary president, Neil Kinnock, the speakers included Emma Reynolds, a former Brussels Labour treasurer and now an MP, who began her intervention with a plug for Brussels Labour. Another speaker, Douglas Alexander MP, commented that Emma is one of the stars of new intake with a brilliant career ahead of her (she is already one of five Labour members on the Foreign Affairs Select Committee). The other speakers were Massimo D’Alema, a former prime minister of Italy, and Richard Howitt MEP.

All speakers stressed the importance for the UK’s own interests of active involvement in a strong EU. At the global level, the G8 has given way to the G20 but there is a real risk that the power relations are being dominated by the G2 of the United States and China: this needs to be turned into a G3, with an active and united EU voice.

Richard Howitt emphasised that a strong common EU foreign policy is vital for British national interests. The new External Action Service had been difficult to set up because of the lack of preparation, but thanks to Cathy Ashton and the EP’s use of its new powers, it was now taking shape. Massimo D’Alema emphasised the potential of the EAS but the need for a strong policy: the mere existence of it was not a guarantee of effective external action.

Douglas Alexander urged that we move on from talking about the reach or otherwise of the EU to understanding the implications of the rise of Asia. China’s role at the Copenhagen climate talks showed the change taking place in the balance of power. We need too to move from a narrative which depends on making the case for the EU by emphasising its role in keeping the peace (important but backward looking) to a forward looking perspective with an emphasis on four key areas where an EU collective approach is vital: climate, security, trade, and poverty.

Emma pointed out that the current government is demonstrating an outdated, imperialist view of the UK’s role in an increasingly multipolar world with a reliance on bilateral rather than multilateral relations. They overestimated their UK’s role in the world and underestimated the EU’s. As she put it, for William Hague, nostalgia is the way to the future.

Belinda Pyke | Chair, Brussels Labour

More conference photos are available at flickr.com/brusselslabour

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LP Conference – Brussels Labour event – joint breakfast with EPLP

As usual at conference, Brussels Labour is jointly hosting the international breakfast with the EPLP – Tuesday 28 September at 8.30am, Manchester Central Charter 3

This year, the topic is

Europe in the World: Actions to Match Ambitions

Speakers:

Chair: Lord Kinnock

Douglas Alexander, Shadow Secretary of State for International Development

Massimo D’Alema, President of FEPS and former Italian Prime Minister

Richard Howitt MEP, Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs

Emma Reynolds MP, former member of Brussels Labour

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Labour Party conference: EPLP meetings

At this year’s Labour Conference the European Parliamentary Labour Party will have a stronger presence than ever. Along with the Europe Reception held on Saturday evening, at which the EPLP welcomed the new leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband, the EPLP has fringe meetings throughout the week, in collaboration with Brussels Labour, the Foundation for European Progressive Studies and the GMB.

The EPLP will also have a brand new stall, brimming with the latest information on Labour’s work in Brussels and Strasbourg.

The EPLP events programme and a schedule of other events at which MEPs are speaking can be found at eurolabour.org.uk and in the files below:

>> Events at Annual Conference featuring MEP speakers

>> EPLP Events Programme

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Labour Party conference: FEPS meetings

Next Left: Insecurity, fairness and the new social democracy

Monday 27 September, 0800 to 0930 // Lord Mayors Parlour, Manchester Town Hall, 2 Albert Square, Manchester M60 2JT

John Denham MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government,

Dr Alfred Gusenbauer, Former Chancellor of Austria,

Catherine Fieschi, Director of Counterpoint

Sunder Katwala, General Secretary of the Fabian Society

With the support of the Fabian society

European Social Democracy: The Path Back To Power

Monday 27 September, 1230-1430 // Midland Hotel, Alexandra B

Roger Liddle, Policy Network

Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, Party of European Socialists

Claude Moraes MEP, EPLP Deputy Leader

Roland Rudd, Business for New Europe

Rushanara Ali MP

In cooperation with the European Parliamentary Labour Party

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