EU liberals change name to appease new French members

President of EU Parliament ALDE group Guy Verhofstadt at ALDE leader meeting ahead of a special EU summit in Brussels, Belgium, 28 May 2019. [EPA-EFE/STEPHANIE LECOCQ]

The main centrist political group in the EU parliament changed its name on Wednesday  (12 June) after receiving an influx of new French members who shy away from the term “liberal”.

The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, known in Brussels as ALDE, will be known from now on as “Renew Europe”.

Former Belgian premier and outgoing group leader Guy Verhofstadt announced the change – under the old ALDE letterhead – saying: “Our mission is to renew Europe.”

Other members seemed less convinced.

“This should keep our new French partners content, but many of us will continue to refer to it as the Liberal Group,” tweeted Chris Davies, the British MEP from North West England.

In France, the term “liberal” is often used pejoratively against centrists to link them with the free market right, and the former ALDE group has just received a French infusion.

Some 21 French centrists were elected last month under the banner “Renaissance” and the leadership of President Emmanuel Macron, and have now joined the former ALDE group.

The liberals are in talks with the conservative EPP, socialist S&D and the Greens to form a majority behind a pro-integration platform from July in the next five-year parliament.

But they remain divided over a choice of candidate to head the European Commission, who must be nominated by EU leaders and approved by a majority in the Strasbourg assembly.

French Macronists eye coup-like raid on Europe's liberals

Macronists want to push the political boundaries of the liberal ALDE group in the European Parliament after the May EU elections, going as far as suggesting a name change for the centrist party. But their gamble is far from being won, EURACTIV France reports.

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