Rehn clears way for Verhofstadt to lead Liberal's election campaign


The two liberal candidates in the European Commission presidential race, Olli Rehn and Guy Verhofstadt, reached an agreement yesterday (20 January), cancelling their expected duel over the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe's candidacy for the European Commission presidency.

Explaining the agreement reached by the two candidates, ALDE party leader, Sir Graham Watson, said the two politicians would jointly lead the electoral campaign "on an equal footing".

Verhofstadt will run for the post of European Commission president to replace the incumbent José Manuel Barroso, while Rehn wil run for one of the other senior EU posts in economic or foreign affairs.

The move has surprised a few EU pundits who say Olli Rehn, the EU's economic and monetary affairs commissioner, has stepped aside to let Verhofstadt, the leader or the ALDE group in the European Parliament, take the lead, and secure for himself a high-level post in the new Commission.

In December, Rehn appeared to be in pole position to lead the EU liberals in the 2014 election campaign, after he secured the support of 14 liberal parties.

The agreement was hailed by some liberal MEPs, such as Andrew Duff, a Briton, as a “a great victory for Guy and for his campaign skills, which he brings to the fore. It is a victory of his ideas and the programme he proposes, too".

“There is a critical decision to make on a Europe along the federalist track. The outcome of this process, as well as the manifesto that we, ALDE, decided on, clearly shows that the majority of ALDE is prepared to stick to the idea of a reinforced Europe,” Duff continued.

Verhofstadt, the former Belgian prime minister, is one of the EU’s most avid euro-federalists. In 2005, he published a book on closer EU integration, ‘The United States of Europe’, and he is one of the driving forces behind the Spinelli Group of federalist MEPs, launched in 2010.

Last month, Verhofstadt faced criticism from members of the Dutch liberal party, including the former Dutch EU Commissioner Frits Bolkestein who accused him of “barking at the moon”. Bolkestein added that “Europhiles pose a greater danger to Europe than eurosceptics”.

>> Read: Verhofstadt 'is barking at the moon', says fellow liberal Bolkestein

Bolkestein’s VVD party, however, got the former commissioner back in his corner and asked him to withdrew his comments. VVD is amongst the member parties endorsing Verhofstadt.

The motion for a resolution proposed to the ALDE party’s bureau by Watson will be discussed in the coming days and submitted to members at the electoral meeting in Brussels on 1 February, a spokesperson said.

According to Duff, the magic number of MEPs to agree on a candidate in Parliament stands at 376. “Rehn was never going to achieve this, but Guy could rally support from the broad left of the EP, as well as of classical liberals,” he added.

“In my view, he will bring a great deal of energy to the campaign. The campaign will also be polarised: federalists versus nationalists. And this has an effect in member states: it pushes the UK’s LibDems to strongly support the European Union.”

Together against populism

Verhofstadt said he was delighted that through the work of Mark Rutte and Christian Lindner, they had found a compromise formula that would enable liberals to work together and allow the two former opponents to contribute respectively to the campaign and deliver a strong showing from the Liberals and Democrats in the new Parliament.

“Pro-Europeans are under attack in a number of Member States so it is all the more important that those who still believe in the European Union stand together to combat the reactionary forces of nationalism and populism that is spreading doubt and fear in the minds of Europe’s citizens,” Verhofstadt said.

“The Europe of today is clearly not delivering for the citizen. We must elucidate a new and positive vision for the EU of tomorrow that builds on what has been achieved over the past 60 years but works more efficiently and effectively," he added.

  • 1 Feb.: ALDE electoral congress in Brussels, selecting their candidate
  • 22-25 May: Elections for European Parliament
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international foundation for research and innovation  's picture

EU Liberals party have no vision about what that it means Liberalism today If they should now they should had 1) proposed a new education programme ,
2) Implemented a programme which can teack students how they can get cash money from other EU competitors economy
3) Reduce taxes by teaching companies how they can get increase sales
4) Increase eu live standard by showing companies which kind of jobs can be done from home and in the same time teaches in the grammer school and Faculties what people must do to work from home and which jobs can offer them this possibilities If they should have presented those ideas they should become the most eu important parties Unfortunatly they have old ideas which do not match in the new economy which are so influenced by digital science

an european's picture

Well done Guy!
You ve already my voice !

Charles_M's picture

An European - he may have your voice, but he hasn't got your vote, because the post he is seeking is not electable by the likes of you and me. Only dictatorships have positions of such power without the due process of democracy.

Hard-working stand-up guy's picture

Another good reason to leave the EU

You're a layabout you liar's picture

Another good reason to not listen to europhobes

Hard-working stand-up guy's picture

Who was it said, "It's hard to free fools from the chains they revere"?

Marlett's picture

Great man, the fact that he's an Elton John lookalike is definetly a plus.

Marlett's picture

Great man, the fact that he's an Elton John lookalike is definetly a plus.

Marlett's picture

Ouch sorry, doubleposting.

Barry Davies's picture

So two unelected failed politicians decide between themselves who will be president, welcome to democracy eussr style, even the original version ussr was more democratic than that.

an european's picture


@Barry Davies

Your UKSSR isn't nearly better my lord!

Maybe if you like a DE dominated slave Union but i don't !
My opinion is that Nazionslist's aren't capable to rise the economy as it should ! Because the EMU lacks some federal policies wich let's suffer some States!

So we need more Guy Verhostad, Napoleons or Alexander Hamilton's and NOT British nazionalistic colonial killer manners in which americans during revolution were killed and suffered a lot and we shouldn't forget the Scots to tell them how they suffered under Englands proud Dictatorship!

Europe is better United than selfish nationalistic !
Tell Winston Churchill

El Pluribus Unum !

Hard-working stand-up guy's picture

@Barry Davies

Very succinct ... and I am deafened by the contrary argument ... not!

an european's picture

As Winston Churchill said :"United states of Europe without UKSSR "

Vote Ukip ha ha

Barry Davies's picture

an european as ever your waffle is totally opaque in its intentions, I have checked the statements attributed to Sir Winston Churchill and as far as I can ascertain he never said that yet again you are making up things to say.

Antipopulist's picture

@Barry Davies

Verhofstadt is elected. Stupid little ittle wittle euwophobe can't fact check. AWWWW Diddums

Charles_M's picture

Verhofstadt didn't leave Belgium very united, why would he be any better wiith the EU?

Barry Davies's picture

Really I thought the prudent of the commission was the unelected barosso and there is no scopee to elect the president of the commission if Verhofstad walks in to the role so how could he possibly be elected???

an european's picture

@ Barry Davies

It's not opaque !

Mr Winston Churchill speaking in Zurich
I9th September 1946:

"We must build a kind of United States of Europe.

In this way only will hundreds of millions of toilers be able to regain the simple joys and hopes which make life worth living.

The process is simple.

All that is needed is the resolve of hundreds of millions of men and women to do right instead of wrong, and gain as their reward, blessing instead of cursing."

Now Europe is heading to it !
Much better this in my mind than a nationalistic World War again!

El Pluribus Unum

Charles_M's picture

Ex Uno Plures

Churchill did indeed say that, but he had no desire for Britain to be part of it.

In other words, you lot go ahead and create your USE if it amuses you, but we will stay out, thank you very much. Especially if Verhofstadt is running the show.

Barry Davies's picture

No I'm right he never mentioned anything about the UKSSR wherever that's supposed to be, and he never said anything about having a bunch of unelected political failures running anything. I wonder why you think that creating divisions in the nations based on nationality is likely to stabilise the area, history is littered with this kind of stupidity creating wars and the extermination of groups, not prevent it.

Richard's picture

"A kind of United States of Europe" certainly does not mean a copy of the USA. Nothing like a single nation state called Europe anyway. Moreover, Mr Churchill was also of the belief that Britain shouldn't be part of it.

""We are part of Europe but not of it, we are linked but not compromised. We are azssociated but not absorbed. If Britain must choose between Europe and the open sea, She must always choose the open sea."

I find it ironic that anyone would hold up Napoleon as a poster-child - oh, he wanted to "unite" Europe all right. By turning it all into French territory. Surrounding countries were vassal states by military conquest, ruled by members of the Emperor's family and appointed soley by him. Everyone would be governed by French law (the Code Napoleon, you can guess who wrote it), eventually they would all speak French and adopt French culture and so on.

But to the matter at hand: nominating Guy Verhofstadt just shows how utterly detached the European Parliament is from it's electorate...proof positive that the more tiers of goverment you have and the larger the political state in which they sit the more distant the top level becomes from the people.

If nothing else, every speech he gives puts a few more thousand votes in the hands of UKIP. His policies of eurobonds and mutualised debts are utterly anathema to Germany (and the other credit states too) and whilst France pays lip service to "more Europe" but as soon as the Commission suggest that taxes and social spending are too high in France we get the immediate reaction that "no one tells France what to do". Most countries and certainly their people feel the same and the sort of Europe advocated by Mr Verhofstadt would never survive a popular vote or be "of the people".

And if you think the creation of the USA was one happy party then you don;t know history. Go and read about Rhode Island for one thing.

Charles's picture

"Europhiles pose a greater danger to Europe than eurosceptics". You have to be a complete schmuck to say that. The French were right to turn down the Constitution because of the Bolkestein directive. In reality it should be "power-hungry idea-less intrigants pose a greater threat to Europe than eurosceptics"!

Barry Davies's picture

Yes Charles the French did reject the constitution but we still got it despite the democratic rejection.

Richard's picture

When he says "europhiles pose a greater danger" what he means is that someone like Mr. Verhofstadt tends to spill the beans to the public.

I totally disagree with his ideas but I actually admire his passion, honesty and open-ness.

an european's picture

: Charles_M- Posted on : 21/01/2014

Hi charles,

It's not only about "the show" of Guy Verhofstadt but i agree with Tony Blair as well!
I wish Tony Blair too who would engage to the rules of a european commissioner!

The missing and requird rules of federalism for the EMU to rerise the economy and drop jobless (job, the most important because you feels useful with one) and a straight democratic structure directly to E.U. citizen !

El Pluribus Unum

Barry Davies's picture

Well yes giving Bliar a commissioner job would be good because that would ensure that everyone would vote to leave the eussr we remember how he signed the constitution against the will of the people then instantly resigned before he could be held to account, real eussr person. The euro is not creating jobs, it is destroying them, there will never be any democracy in the eussr and there will never be a european citizen.

Marlett's picture

whoever uses the expression EUSSR is fat

Barry Davies's picture

Well Marlett you show your true colours as you are clearly sizeist, and think that calling someone fat is an insult, it does create an image of someone with little understanding who considers soap operas as being an honest reflection on society at large.

Marlett's picture

lol you're fat

the kind of fat who is fat because he NEVER WORKED A FUCKIN DAY IN HIS WHOLE LIFE

Barry Davies's picture

Marlett you are correct, most days I worked were longer because of working overtime, so I rarely worked a normal day. Of course I am aware that some people who don't work are fat just like some are thin and some average sized so your comment is just a brain dead rant of someone with little knowledge.

Marlett's picture

go back to your hugbox

Barry Davies's picture

The intellect of the europhile posters on here is stunning Martlett how long did it take you to come up with your comments, at least 24 hours it would appear.

Marlett's picture

ah well i am not the one updating furiously a page cultivating his own rage

anyway i am not even europhile just a troll and you fatsos are the funniest ones to troll

well have a nice dinner and don't exaggerate