European ALDE PMs highlight EU single market, pledge to counter populism

Source: Xinhua| 2019-02-20 05:59:37|Editor: Xiaoxia
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HELSINKI, Feb. 19 (Xinhua) -- Six European liberal democratic prime ministers declared in Helsinki on Tuesday that their parties are the "counter force to populism".

They also called for deepening of the EU single market and continued policies for competitiveness and sustainable growth.

The meeting convened by Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipila brought together Helsinki Charles Michel of Belgium, Lars Lokke Rasmussen of Denmark, Juri Ratas of Estonia, Mark Rutte of the Netherlands and Marjan Sarec of Slovenia.

The six prime ministers from the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe group (ALDE), the liberal-centrist political group of the European Parliament, gave their declaration one day after the first official poll about the May European elections indicated that ALDE could increase its number of MEPs from the current 68 to 75.

In the bigger picture, the leading centrist-conservative (EPP) and social democratic parties (S&D) in the European Parliament would suffer major losses while populist and nationalistic groupings would make gains. The poll by the European Parliament and Kantar was published on Monday.

Political observers have noted that ALDE (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe) could do even better, if the French En Marche movement would join ALDE.

Researcher Timo Miettinen, from the Center for European Studies at the University of Helsinki, told news agency Lannen Media that if En Marche does not find enough allies from other EU countries to form a new group, ALDE could be their most natural alternative.

Researcher Miettinen said one of the factors behind the rise of ALDE is the return of the German liberal party to the European political scene. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte made a reference to possible future cooperation with En Marche in a press conference in Helsinki on Tuesday.

On world issues, the six prime ministers said their priority is to promote "the rules-based international order and effective multilateralism".

They declared commitment to maintaining the effectiveness of existing WTO disciplines. "With its wide network of trade agreements, the EU gives a strong signal that it is for open trade and against protectionism".

The six urged improvement in the transatlantic trade and investment relations.

"We must also develop our relations with Africa in a more balanced way". The EU should be a global leader in the fight against the climate change.