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~ è disponibile una versione in italiano della lettera ~

Mr. Verhofstadt, don’t.

Don’t strike a deal with Beppe Grillo.

Don’t partner behind closed-doors with the Movimento Cinque Stelle (M5S).

Don’t let them get into the ALDE Group.

Don’t offer them the chance to kill our best hopes.

This morning we woke up and thought this was just another piece of fake news. But an hour later Grillo called for an online vote to decide with whom the M5S should join forces in the European Parliament. Throughout the day, other Europeans from several countries called to ask our opinion about the M5S, wondering whether such an apparently unlikely alliance with the liberals would make sense at all — at least for the liberals.

This is why, as citizens whose lives have deeply been shaped by the European Union, we have decided to address this open letter to you. We want you to know— as the leader of the most relevant movement of liberals across Europe — that there is a limit to where realpolitik can go.

When the M5S welcomed the Brexit vote as an “extraordinary success”, you described it as an existential threat to the European Union.

On all the main issues — from labour to migration, from trade to justice — there is a serious gap between your two political forces in terms of values, not just policy choices.

If you want an example, just take one of the most advanced European projects — the common currency. We all agree that the governance and policies of the Eurozone require serious reform, but the M5S has called time and again for a referendum to have Italy abandon the euro — which is a no-way-back to start a domino effect that would definitely bury any prospect for further integration at the European level.

Not to mention the doubtful practices promoted by Beppe Grillo when it comes to M5S internal democracy and decision-making — of which what is going on in these very hours is just a further confirmation.

The document posted below proves in fact how Beppe Grillo and yourself have not only already agreed to join forces, but also on what basis. A document where — paradoxically — both ALDE and M5S call for more transparency.

We believe all M5S activists — who were told to trust online direct democracy — will be happy to know they were asked to take a fake democratic decision. As much as we believe that all liberals across Europe who have been looking sympathetically at your candidature as president of the European Parliament will be happy to know this is the price you seem ready to pay. While your declared desire to renew political life in Europe deserves praise, it seems so difficult, Mr Verhofstadt, to reconcile it with these methods.

Europe has ensured peace and prosperity for decades. Even recently, it has created opportunities for many young Europeans, while being blamed by national governments and nationalist political parties for their own shortcomings in addressing youth unemployment. And yet, even for the most firm believers in the European project, it is difficult to defend the EU as it stands today. Still, we don’t see how you could be able to push European integration further by embracing the M5S.

This is why we discourage you, Mr Verhofstadt, from pursuing this disgraceful alliance with Beppe Grillo.

Alcide De Gasperi once said: “a politician thinks of the next election; a statesman of the next generation”.

It’s your time to show all Europeans which side you stand on.

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— — — ANNEX— — —

Brussels, 4 January 2017

Alde and Movimento 5 Stelle

ALDE and the Movimento 5 Stelle (M5S) share the core values of freedom, equality and transparency. We both see the individual as the central building block of society, while promoting an open economy, solidarity and social cohesion as the preconditions for people to achieve their full potential. We both want to strengthen the influence of citizens on decisions that affect them, including through developing mechanisms for direct democracy and by motivating people to participate and engage in politics.

More importantly, we are both reformist forces that want to fundamentally change the way the European Union operates today. We strive for a fundamental overhaul, because the European Union of today is unable to deliver the results that citizens expect in terms of prosperity and protection, which fuels distrust and disillusionment instead of building up confidence and commitment.

Too many of our citizens see the European Union as part of the problem, as the indirect driver behind uncontrolled globalization that is perceived as benefitting only a few. While in fact it should be the opposite. We believe only the European Union has sufficient weight to exploit globalisation, as a force for good and to ensure that the benefits are shared by all. The European Union must be the democratic counterweight to globalized economic forces.

Therefore, we want to see reform in key areas.

1. The renewal of European democracy.

ALDE and M5S champion a more democratic and transparent Union. We both want a smaller, more effective European Commission, a reformed European Council and a more powerful European Parliament that is on equal footing with the Council. We both believe part of the Members of the European Parliament should be elected on a transnational basis as an important step towards a real European democracy.

We also want to end the ineffective ‘grand coalition’ that has monopolised power and paralysed Europe for too long. The way forward is enhancing the direct involvement of citizens in the democratic processes and increase transparency, by making all documents public as a rule and by using clear language to communicate in all kind of legislation as well as in international arrangements and trade agreements. We need to make the institutions more transparent and accountable, and give citizens more direct influence over policies and the choice of political leadership, both in the ballot station and through other tools for citizens’ involvement.

2. Reform of the Eurozone

During the past decade, our single currency has proven to be stable and resilient against external shocks, but it has fallen short in strengthening our economy and achieving convergence between the national economies. The euro has not delivered on its promise. It is high time to fix some of the underlying flaws.

We need to build around the common currency a system that is able to absorb economic shocks in the eurozone and that needs to be managed by a new governance that must be embedded in transparent and democratic structures. We also need to review the way in which national budgets are monitored, and introduce a new convergence code that is focussed on meaningful reforms and ensuring value for money delivery of public services, instead of one-sidedly on budget numbers.

3. Rights and freedoms

The European Union is first and foremost a community of values. We need to make European Union the global champion of civil liberties, fundamental rights and the rule of law. The European Union has to ensure the basic values and principles, laid down in the EU Treaties, are respected throughout the EU. Shared values and mutual trust are key for EU policies such as police and justice cooperation, asylum and refugee policies, the digital agenda, energy or the joint management of external borders.

4. Opportunities without borders

Equally, Europe should be able to secure the four fundamental freedoms by better protecting the common market. This requires a broad strategy that reaches from tackling dumping of products on the EU market to eliminating obstacles to free movement for ordinary citizens. The single market has to become the hub for talent, innovation, start-ups and small and medium sized enterprises as well as multinationals. At the same time a single market without internal borders clearly requires that questions of solidarity and social cohesion needs to be tackled as a priority.

Written by

Deputato, membro Commissione VII (Cultura, Scienza, e Istruzione) e Intergruppo parlamentare su IA. Co-fondatore di Movimenta. Il resto qui:

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