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.”
Our new group in the @Europarl_EN has chosen a new name: Renew Europe
We're stronger than ever & have the unique chance to shape Europe.
There is a lot of work ahead of us. We are inspired to build a free & fair Europe.
— Guy Verhofstadt (@guyverhofstadt) June 12, 2019
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.