• Sweden edition
 
Elections 2014
'Nationalist promises are a lie': liberal EU head candidate
Verhofstadt with Sweden's Liberal Party head Jan Björklund. Photo: TT

'Nationalist promises are a lie': liberal EU head candidate

Published: 05 May 2014 17:43 GMT+02:00
Updated: 05 May 2014 17:43 GMT+02:00

 
Guy Verhofstadt, the 61-year-old MEP who heads the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) in the European parliament, spent Monday in Stockholm and Uppsala campaigning ahead of the EU elections later this month. And he says it's no surprise that European voters are disillusioned.
 
"They find that Europe has badly managed the crisis over the last five years. You cannot contradict them," he told The Local on Monday.
 
Europe, he said, still had not exited the financial crisis while the rest of the world was now in the clear. He pointed to figures that showed an average economic growth of 5 percent in Asia, around 4 percent in Africa and Latin America, and 2 percent in North America.
 
"Yet we are still in crisis," he added.
 
The politician, who served as Belgium's prime minister between 1999 and 2008, claimed Europe's entire crisis strategy was "badly managed" over the last five years.
 
He said he would never have run a one-track policy of fiscal discipline, but would have launched a two-pronged attack with an additional growth strategy, something he said was sorely missing from European politics.
 
"This Europe doesn't work and we need another Europe. The other Europe can't be one where we have only fiscal discipline and certainly not a Europe where we plan to emerge from the crisis by doing deficit spending like the socialists are promoting," he elaborated, killing conservative and socialist policies with one stone. 
 
The socialists' chances of presidency are in the hands of German MEP Martin Schulz, with the European conservative group headed by former Luxembourg prime minister Jean-Claude Juncker. The Greens, meanwhile, are headed by Jose Bove and Ska Keller.
 
The liberals, he argues, provide the "clear alternative".
 
Currently, the European People's Party has the most seats in the European Parliament with 273, followed by the Social Democrats with 196, the Liberals with 83, and the Conservatives and Greens with 57. He doesn't need a majority if a parliamentary majority support him. In 1999, for example, the  socialists and the conservatives threw their weight behind the commission's last liberal head, Romano Prodi, who served until 2004.
 
The Belgian politician said he hoped a strong focus on economy would be enough to get him the top spot. He mentions a speedier banking union, unified capital markets, and a launch of future bonds.
 
In Stockholm, where he was joined by Liberal Party MEP Cecilia Wikström and party head Jan Björklund, he announced that his commission would be gender equal, but declined to call himself a feminist.
 
Another issue in Europe, he admitted, was the creeping tide of nationalism. In France, opinion polls have suggested that the National Front could take one in four votes in the European parliament elections - enough to make them the leading French voice in Brussels and Strasbourg, the twin cities of the parliament.
 
So how would the Belgian's leadership attack the rise of the nationalists?
 
"We need to answer them and say to people - Sorry, we understand that you feel fear. That you fear the crisis, fear the globalized world, but to resolve these problems, the worst recipe is to retreat behind the national borders," he said.
 
"All these problems we are facing, migration flows, toxic products coming from the other side of the ocean, climate change - they are all transnational problems. You don't solve them on the national level," he said.
 
"They're saying if you retreat behind national borders then these problems will disappear. That is a lie. We have to have the guts, us pro-Europeans, to fight against this."
 
Europe heads to the polls between May 22nd and 25th. A debate between the top candidates, to be televised by the European Broadcasting Union, will be held on May 15th.

Oliver Gee (oliver.gee@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
National
Anti-Israel graffiti 'not a race crime': Court
Photo: TT

Anti-Israel graffiti 'not a race crime': Court

A teenage boy who painted anti-Israel slogans and symbols on the Concert Hall in Gothenburg has been convicted for the damages he caused, but he walked free from racial agitation charges. READ  

Politics
Israel's ambassador recalled from Sweden
Israeli ambassador Isaac Bachman. Photo: TT

Israel's ambassador recalled from Sweden

Israel has recalled its ambassador from Stockholm "in irritation" that Sweden has officially recognized the State of Palestine. READ  

Entertainment
A closer look at Sweden's rising stars
Swedish actresses Sandra Huldt and Julia Ragnarsson. Julia (right) has been nominated for a Rising Star award. Photo: TT

A closer look at Sweden's rising stars

Like to be ahead of the game when it comes to the next big thing on the silver screen? We find out more about the Swedish nominees for the Rising Star award to be presented at Stockholm's International Film Festival next week. READ  

Science
Swedish women in two-year sex pill study
Contraceptive pills have been linked to mood swings. Photo: Shutterstock

Swedish women in two-year sex pill study

Three hundred women from across Sweden are taking part in a study designed to demonstrate that modern contraceptive pills don't lead to decreased libido or mood swings. READ  

National
Stockholm 'sinking' oil spill ship safe
The ship was rescued on Thursday. Photo: Swedish Coast Guard

Stockholm 'sinking' oil spill ship safe

After fears a ship carrying around 52 tonnes of oil could sink in Stockholm's archipelago, Sweden's Coast Guard said the vessel had been towed to safety. READ  

National
Dog attack policewoman acquitted on appeal
A scene from a video of the attack published by Dagens Nyheter

Dog attack policewoman acquitted on appeal

A policewoman accused of letting her dog attack a drunk man while she repeatedly hit him with a baton, has had her conviction overturned by a court in Stockholm. READ  

Entertainment
What's On: October 31st - November 7th
Uma Thurman will soon be on her way to Stockholm. Photo: TT

What's On: October 31st - November 7th

Halloween fun and an international film festival are the big events hitting Stockholm this week. We cast our eye over the capital and the rest of the country for the best activities to check out this week. READ  

International
Pirate Bay Swede found guilty in Denmark
Gottrid Svartholm Warg. File photo: TT

Pirate Bay Swede found guilty in Denmark

Sweden's Pirate Bay Founder Gottrid Svartholm Warg was found guilty of hacking crimes in a Danish court on Thursday. READ  

National
Malmö loses out as rare toads move in
The European green toad. Photo: H. Krisp (WikiCommons)

Malmö loses out as rare toads move in

After a rare species of toad moved into southern Sweden's Malmö, builders have had to tone down massive expansion plans in the area. READ  

Politics
Palestine recognized as state by Sweden
Sweden's Foreign Minister is Margot Wallström. Photo: TT

Palestine recognized as state by Sweden

The Swedish government has officially decided to recognize Palestine, with the move announced in a speech by the country's new Foreign Minister Margot Wallström. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Lifestyle
Stockholm's shocking take on Halloween
Sport
Top ten quotes from Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Business & Money
Get your own office in Gothenburg or Stockholm - free for a day
Gallery
People-watching: October 30th
National
Sweden remains fourth best for gender equality
Blog updates

29 October

Scariest day (Blogweiser) »

"This is what’s frightening me on Halloween. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4OFZVCu8J0&list=UUJu5J7jG4uoYSjWbpFsJBuQ Follow my posts on FB. ..." READ »

 

24 October

Editor’s blog, October 24th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hi readers, Get ready to read our weekly digest of Swedish news in less than 60 seconds. The..." READ »

 
 
 
National
Timeline: Julian Assange sex allegations
Sport
World Cup ski race on 'fake' Stockholm slope
Society
An Arctic tradition: hunting and handicraft
Society
Stockholm taxis offer free therapy sessions
National
The Local meets Health Minister Gabriel Wikström
Gallery
Property of the week: Österåker
Society
Homeless turtles get Stockholm police ride
National
Construction worker has 'Sweden's best beard'
National
Italian musician jazzes up Sweden's Lapland
Gallery
Zlatan's career in pictures
Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching: October 25th and 26th
Lifestyle
'Swedes are funnier than they think'
National
Swedish town 'like Venice' after heavy rains
Lifestyle
What's On in Sweden: October 24th - 31st
Gallery
People-watching: October 22nd
Gallery
In Pictures: Prince Carl Philip and Sofia Hellqvist
Lifestyle
Eight things to love about renting a Swedish apartment
National
Vasa ship cannon blasted in Sweden
National
Sub hunt: Day-by-day
National
Sub hunt: Stockholm islanders share their fears with The Local
Sponsored Article
The best options for oversea transfers
National
Dentist gives free care to Roma beggars
Gallery
Property of the week: Malmö
Gallery
PHOTOS: 'Foreign activity' in Swedish waters
TT
Society
QUIZ: How good is your Swedish?
Society
The nudity... and nine other things expat men notice in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: October 15th
Gallery
Your views: Should outdoor smoking be banned in Sweden?
Business & Money
Sweden has 'large hole' in finances
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Finding a job in Stockholm
Society
Monster salmon caught in northern Sweden
Gallery
Property of the week: Lorensberg
National
Scandinavia's child bride
National
Ebola crisis: How is Sweden preparing?
Business & Money
How Sweden is becoming a cashless society
Gallery
Stockholm Burlesque Festival 2014
National
How a little red horse became a symbol for Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: October 12th
Business & Money
The hottest start-ups from southern Sweden
National
Stockholm is 'best' region for well-being
Sponsored Article
How to catch the first lobster of the year
Team SCA
Sponsored Article
All-female SCA team takes off on Volvo Ocean Race
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

970
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
http://psdmedia.se
If you want to drink, that’s your business.
If you want to stop, we can help.

Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
AA-EUROPE.ORG/SWEDEN