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International Freedom Exchange
ALEC is also working to promote closer working relations between America’s state political leaders and their foreign counterparts. The underlying purpose is to build a better understanding of America’s political process and maintain an ongoing dialogue of how free-market societies are prepared to meet future challenges and the emerging global economy. In 2002, ALEC staff held discussions with several international delegations, including British Members of the European Parliament, regional leaders of the Parliament of the Kyrgyz Republic, and representatives of the Kosovar Parliament.More recently, ALEC’s Michael Flynn held a briefing at an international conference on federalism sponsored by the German think tank, Friedrich Naumann. Future ALEC activities aim to bring emerging political leaders from other countries into this international freedom exchange. In 2003, a delegation of European Members of Parliament will be meeting with American state lawmakers at ALEC’s Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.
Senator William G. Hewes III, ALEC National Chairman 2004
Just as the White House and Congress gear up for their new electoral cycles, Europe is also at the start of a new 5 year phase. The new enlarged European Parliament is just finding its feet following June’s Europe-wide elections and she has already shown signs that she will fully flex her institutional muscles when needed. Soon the new European Commission of 25 will also take up a fresh term, with a new set of priorities and challenges. One of the biggest challenges facing Europe is surely its very direction. The new Constitutional Treaty currently undergoing ratification in Member States is by no means a shoe-in and the EU will spend much of the next 18 months trying to establish its exact place on the world stage. Perhaps this is why EU-US relations have become schizophrenic of late. At times Europe and America have acted in complete harmony and presented a united front; At other times, our relationship has been overtly fractious. That is where legislators have a key role to play – in bringing forward a relationship based on co-operation and trust. ALEC’s EU project is now well under way and we’ve found friends in the conservative delegations of Britain, Hungary and the Czech Republic. We hope to extend this further and establish an on-going dialogue with conservatives across the European Union. Indeed, the new European Commission is also showing very welcome signs of pragmatism and collaboration. The EU’s incoming Commissioner for External Relations, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, says she wants a determined and decisive multilateral effort to fight international terrorism. She has also stressed that the EU must now show support for the broader political process in Iraq. This common-sense approach to the international scene is to be welcomed as a positive sign of things to come. ALEC will welcome three MEPs to its States and Nations Policy Summit in Washington D.C. this December to discuss the latest aspects of the transatlantic relationship. We also hope to build a firm bridge across the Atlantic for our shared conservative ideas and I know that everyone at ALEC will do their best to welcome our European guests.
Speech by Chris Heaton-Harris MEP
2004 States and Nation Policy Summit
Mr Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Before I start may I just say thank you to ALEC for inviting me to this excellent conference. It is a great privilege for me to be here with my colleagues from the European Parliament: Martin Callanan, who, alas, returned to the UK last night and Roger Helmer, who I know many of you have met and listened to.
I am Chris Heaton-Harris and all three of us were re-elected for our second five year terms to the European Parliament back in June.
The European Parliament has 724 members from 25 countries representing 450m people and using 20 official languages. As you can imagine, it is a very complicated place.
Often we have translation problems. In fact only last week a Polish translator interpreted: “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” into: “The vodka is OK, but the meat is under-cooked.”
And in the EP, I am lucky to work with so many amazing people – and, of course, the French.
We English say that when God created France he found it so perfect that, to comfort the people who couldn’t live there, he invented the French.
Actually, I try not to use the French for cheap political laughs – you see I use to have a girlfriend who was half-French – I know that because she only shaved under one armpit.
It was also a privilege to see Fred Barnes receive the “Warren Brookes Award”. Alas in the UK, and indeed across Europe, we have very few Conservative journalists like Fred Barnes is or Warren Brookes was.
And boy do we need them!
Now I know we elected politicians moan occasionally about our friends in the media when we don’t live up to expectations – or we get something wrong – and we hate it when we get mis-reported – but, boy, don’t we just love it when we get complimented in the papers, when we successfully get our points across on the radio.
Unsurprisingly though, it is being on TV that seems to give us the biggest buzz.
You know how it is… you’re called by your local station, you travel down, do your stuff on TV, finish up and leave just in time to get the phone calls from your friends saying just how fantastic you were. And days later, sometimes weeks, people recognise you in the street – they have no idea what you said, all they know is that your face was on their TV the other day.
I remember my first major TV appearance, back in 1995 when I was a young candidate standing for a seat in the House of Commons, but a seat I had no chance of winning.
I’d run some decent campaigns though, got some good newspaper coverage and was a young candidate – and the BBC decided they wanted to interview me live on my local news.
It was fantastic! I put on my best suit, went and did the interview – and we all know when we’ve done well – and I was really pleased. I went outside, turned on my mobile phone and immediately got my first call, from my Aunt – to tell me that my flies were undone.
Not exactly the sort of exposure I’d wanted to get that day!
But when those press guys are out to get someone, well boy are they wicked.
In the UK our tabloid newspapers are ruthless. I have a colourful friend in the UK. He’s a MP and at the moment our press are out to get him – and he knows it.
Two weeks ago he went to speak at a big dinner up in Edinburgh, Scotland. When he got off the train in Edinburgh he was met by a gang of story-hungry journalists and photographers. As my friend walked to a taxi they bombarded him with questions about his personal life; but he resisted answering them.
Just as he got to the taxi, he relaxed and someone shouted: “Boris, are you going to the strip clubs tonight?”
To which, quick as a flash he answered: “Are there any strip clubs here?” and closed the door happily, having dealt with the onslaught.
Next morning’s headlines were bad: MP’s first words in Edinburgh: “Are there any strip clubs here?”
Now, I can’t claim to be an ALEC member or alumni; in fact it was only a couple of years ago that I was introduced to this organisation and Jeffersonian principles. In the UK I’m pretty well known for my Conservative views – it seems to me that no matter where you are s true Conservative will always stand for the same things:
To limit government
For lower taxes
For free trade and open markets
Showing respect and taking personal responsibility.
But I didn’t know these core values as Jeffersonian principles – to me these were Thatcherisms.
Alas being a Conservative in Europe now is much tougher than when Mrs Thatcher was around – scaring our neighbours with her intellectual capacity and huge handbags.
Nowadays, with the help of European legislation, regulation is on the increase and government’s power over the people is steadily rising.
Indeed if you ever needed to point out to someone who just doesn’t get it – your average CNN producer for example – just compare the economic conditions and personal liberty here in the US with Europe, or even the UK.
In the UK government is growing – big time.
In 1999/2000 UK government spending was 37.4% of GDP.
By 2005/6 it will be 42%
By 2012/13 – at the current rate it will be 46%.
If you need an example to prove that tax and spend does not work; look no further than across the Pond.
Our government increased spending on what we call our core public services (NHS, education etc) by 58% since 1997. But measured outputs increased by only 13% with the rest of the money being spent of bureaucracy!
Regulations in the UK are strangling business.
Since 1997 our present government have introduced 15 new regulations every working day. British civil servants are in heaven – almost everything they conceive ends up on the statute books.
And business suffers. Our Confederation of British Industry have said that the regulatory burden imposed on them has cost UK industry £54bn ($98bn) and that is money not spent on innovation or on improving productivity or in investing in new jobs – no surprise then that productivity growth in the UK has nearly halved.
And there’s worse yet to come… many of you will have heard of the European Constitution – and just by its name you might think, well this is a good thing.
But whereas your Constitution is a truly enduring historical document based on life, liberty and limiting government; ours is a socialist manifesto.
Let me list some things it calls “fundamental rights”:
The freedom to form trade unions.
The right to collective bargaining and action.
The freedom to choose an occupation. (I want to be an astronaut and I’ll sue you if you don’t let me be one!)
The right to have fair and just working conditions.
The right to reconcile family and professional life.
And these rights will all be interpreted by our version of your Supreme Court – the EU’s Court of Justice.
All this will come on top of the piles of regulations and measures that help Europe export the jobs that we already have.
In fact the only economic convergence that has taken place in the past few years in Europe is towards slower growth and deteriorating public finances,
And then we add the daft regulations that European government imposes….
The EU already has regulations that require bananas to be straight.
We have a “Vibrations Directive” that if implemented, would mean that farmers would struggle to harvest their crops – because driving their equipment over the dry bumpy earth would subject their backsides to more vibrations per minute than Europe allows.
And we are currently looking at legislation that will mean the complete re-testing of all chemicals used in Europe by our industrial base – a regulations that if adopted in its current form, will move Europe’s chemical industry to the Far-East almost overnight.
We are even discussing a “Health and Nutrition Directive”; part of which aims – and think about this – to eliminate health claims made about food.
So no longer in Europe will we be able to say: “an apple a day keeps the doctor away!”
Across the Pond whenever our economies look like gaining steam, we add regulation, more government – to help push them to the point of recession.
In Europe it seems as though politicians are people who, when coming to the light at the end of a tunnel, order more tunnel!
The French Philosopher, de Tocqueville, once spoke of “government covering the face of society with a network of small complicated rules, until the nation is reduced to a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which government is the shepherd.”
There you go! The exception that proves the rule… a Frenchman who was right!
And that, alas, describes Europe today.
But why should you all care about what’s happening over in Europe? Surely, if Europe’s economy goes downhill it won’t effect America.
Well do remember that the EU is one of the biggest markets for American produced goods.
And also remember what Ronald Reagan once said in one of his radio commentaries back in the 70’s:
That “we should always be wary and watch out for government’s communications grapevine. When one set of jungle drums is pounded by a group of bureaucrats” he said “another group of bureaucrats will be listening.”
That’s how regulation spreads: from you to us, like smoking bans, or from us to you! And trust me – those jungle drums are beating hard and fast in Europe.
To me the solution to all these problems I’ve outlined seems obvious – Europe needs Jeffersonian principles/Thatcherisms.
In fact we must really start by helping Europe’s Conservatives remember what being a Conservative is all about – and to do that I believe we need a role model.
And actually I think we have a ready-made role model here today in ALEC and all of you.
You understand what Jeffersonian principles are all about and you deliver policy that makes them work and improves peoples’ lives.
But alas, in Europe, we have no organisation like ALEC – and we really need one.
That is why I am so glad you have started your international program – that will help us true believers out there fight the good fight.
Over the past couple of years it has been really tough being a Conservative in Europe.
Coming here this week has been like taking a bottle of political Viagra – I feel completely re-energised!
So I’d like to thank you all – for your friendship, your hospitality and your inspiration.
God bless you all!
Speech to American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)
Washington DC – December 1 2004
Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen,
As always, it’s a huge pleasure for me, and my colleagues Chris Heaton-Harris and Martin Callanan, to be here with you at another ALEC Conference. I’d like especially to thank Duane Parde, and his fellow officers at ALEC, for the invitation, and I’d also like to thank ALEC staffer Sally McNamara for organising our programme. Sally previously spent five years working for Chris Heaton-Harris and me in the UK and Brussels, before coming to Washington.
In a world where globalisation is accelerating, and where we all face the common threat of terrorism, I believe that the transatlantic relationship, which has underpinned our security for all of my life-time, is becoming more, not less, important. I very much regret the apparent lack of commitment to this relationship from Brussels, with its constant sniping and posturing on transatlantic trade and security issues.
In these circumstances, it is crucial to maintain and strengthen links between conservative politicians and thinkers on both sides of the water. I believe that ALEC has a vital role to play in this dialogue, and this is why it is such a great pleasure, and privilege, for me and my colleagues to be here with you today.
Across in Brussels, I and my colleagues are part of a beleaguered minority. The great majority of MEPs in the EU parliament, far from embracing Jeffersonian principles, have never even heard of them. They subscribe to a new gospel of European integration, based on powerful and unaccountable supra-national institutions, high taxes, unaffordable social and welfare spending, and massive over-regulation of every area of life. The EU is the most over-regulated, over-governed, over-taxed, over-borrowed economic bloc in the world.
Like so many ruling orthodoxies, from the Spanish Inquisition to Stalin’s NKVD, the EU is intolerant of dissent.
I used the word “gospel” advisedly. It seems that some enthusiasts for the European project are starting to invest it with quasi-religious properties. A judge in the European Court of Justice recently expressed the opinion that any criticism of the European project was — and I quote — “akin to blasphemy”, and was therefore not protected by the usual laws of free speech.
In Belgium recently, a euro-critical party, the Vlaams Blok, was outlawed by the courts on trumped-up charges of prejudice and xenophobia, despite at the last election having the highest share-of-vote in the country. As my friend and fellow-MEP Dan Hannan has remarked, in the old Soviet Union, they never banned elections. They merely banned political parties that disagreed with the state. The parallels are too close for comfort.
In Strasbourg in November, at the hearings for the new EU Commission, a British MEP drew attention to the earlier conviction of the French candidate, M. Barrot, for embezzlement of political funds. The conviction was little-known, since M. Barrot had received a presidential amnesty, and under a curious quirk of French law, any offence subject to amnesty is wiped from the record and may not be mentioned again. The MEP was then threatened with legal consequences not only by political group leaders, but by the President of the Parliament as well.
The idea that a parliamentarian could be threatened with legal consequences merely for stating a plain fact, in the chamber of the parliament itself, augurs badly for liberty and the rule of law in the EU.
This is why, for me and my colleagues, a visit to Washington recharges our political batteries. It is a joy and a privilege to be, for a few days at least, amongst those who share our political outlook, and who hold liberty and the rule of law in high regard.
While we enjoy coming to Washington, we also do our best to maintain transatlantic relations in Brussels, and we always look forward to events organised by the American Chamber, which has a high reputation over there. Indeed I sometimes think they know more about what’s going on in the EU institutions than we do!
On Nov 17th we were guests at the American Chamber dinner in Strasbourg, where David Cote, the CEO of Honeywell, was the keynote speaker. I met a charming, tall, elderly Polish MEP, whom I had better not name. In any case his name was one of those Polish jaw-breakers that I probably couldn’t pronounce to start with. He is a member of the right-wing, euro-sceptic League of Polish Families. And we talked about global warming and the Kyoto protocol.
He told me he was a scientist, and he had studied this issue. He was not at all convinced that global warming was a reality. The evidence, he said, was mixed. But if it was happening, he doubted that it was anthropogenic, or that it was necessarily, always and everywhere, a bad thing. There would be winners and losers. But he was convinced of one thing — that the Kyoto programme would have little or no effect, and that it would waste trillions of euros. So far so good. He’s right. I agreed with him.
Earlier that week, we had voted on the Florenz report on Global Warming. You will not be at all surprised to hear that this report was pro-Kyoto — not so much politically correct as ideologically purified. But — get this — our Polish MEP was going to vote for it! Naturally, I asked him why, and he replied with disarming candour. Under Kyoto’s emissions trading régime, Poland stood to make truck-loads of money. With many old-fashioned, dirty production processes, they would start with a huge bank of emissions permits, which they could sell to the West as they cleaned up their act.
Unconcerned at the massive, mindless, futile waste of Kyoto, he saw it simply as a way for his country to ramp up its subsidy entitlements. This little story tells you much of what you need to know, both about the EU and about Kyoto.
Mind you, I’m not criticising Poland. Given the policies we have created, this MEP’s determination to deliver value for his country and his constituents is understandable, even commendable. But what a spectacular example of the unintended consequences, and the perverse incentives, that riddle the EU and the environmental movement.
Ladies and gentlemen: The great development on the table in Europe today is the new European Constitution. It is a document which is easy to ridicule, especially when we compare it to the US Constitution. It contains 750 pages of turgid prose, and instead of focussing on the great issues of liberty, democracy and governance, it delves into the minutiae of life, of social security rights and the protection of Malta’s abortion laws. (Malta has a population of around 300,000). In fact it is not so much a Constitution as a political manifesto, and a leftish manifesto at that.
It is easy to ridicule, but dangerous to ignore the threat. There is a world of difference between the EU we have today, and the EU of the Constitution. Today, at least in theory, the EU is a Treaty-based organisation linking independent, democratic sovereign nations. Under the Constitution, it becomes for all practical purposes a country in its own right, with its own legal personality.
What do you call an organisation that has, or is putting in place, a Constitution, a currency, a central bank, a supreme court, a President, a Foreign Minister, an elected parliament, common external borders and tariffs, border guards, an army — not to mention a passport, a flag and an anthem?
Ladies and gentlemen, if it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck ….. !
And in that new country called Europe, the ancient nations of our continent will be little more than provinces.
Does this matter to America? You bet it does! Too many of the Chancelleries of Europe are animated by an endemic Anti-Americanism, heightened recently by the Iraq war. They speak of a euro currency, and EU armed forces, to “counter-balance US dominance”. They are developing their own Global Positioning System, Galileo, not because they need it — you make your own system available free of charge — but to assert their growing confidence as a global power. In doing so, they threaten the strategic balance, and the vital transatlantic flow of military and security intelligence.
My advice, which I have offered whenever I have been this side of the water, is that the US should know its friends in Europe, and work with them country-by-country, rather than seeking to deal with the EU as a single entity. I am delighted to see that this view is catching on in Washington, and I particularly commend the Heritage Foundation briefing paper of October 2004 by John C. Hulsman and Nile Gardiner, entitled “A Conservative Vision for US Policy Toward Europe”, which takes exactly this position.
I and my colleagues are convinced that the EU Constitution is a profound threat to the prosperity, the democracy and increasingly to the security of our country. But we also to believe that an assertive, unified, Constitution-based EU is not in America’s best interest either.
Our great task for the next couple of years is to campaign in the UK against ratification of the EU Constitution. We think we can win this battle, and we would be hugely encouraged to have your moral support in our campaign. Thank you.
Representative Earl Ehrhart, ALEC’s National Chairman 2005
Having been recently appointed ALEC National Chairman, I am delighted to see our international relations project now moving full steam ahead. I have asked my immediate predecessor as National Chairman, Senator Billy Hewes, to Chair the ALEC Board of Director’s Committee on International Relations, while Ken Lane of DIAGEO will co-chair in a private sector capacity. These gentlemen enjoy my full support, and I believe that we have a strong a team to lead from the front & move forward with our international coalition-building.
Anyone who attended our States and Nation Policy Summit in Washington this month knows just how important it is to have friends across the Atlantic. Chris Heaton-Harris MEP delivered a remarkable speech, which directly addressed our principles. He asked for our help and mutual support – and ALEC is delighted to offer it. Not least because the threats posed by the European Constitution can easily be transported over here – the threats to free trade, free markets and individual liberty.
These debates about the future of Europe & its international status are increasingly relevant to America and to our companies who operate inside the EU. That is why I am so happy to see ALEC taking the lead in shaping the policy debate for the future of transatlantic relations.
LA State Senator Noble Ellington, ALEC Board of Directors
Think tanks have become somewhat part of the establishment in Washington. In fact, it would be fair to say that there’s a healthy amount of competition among DC’s thinkers; competition for the best people, for the best promotional tools and for the best access to the Nation’s policy makers. And there is little doubt in the conservative movement that this has been a good thing – that new think tanks have increased the strength of existing think tanks, attracting new activists and advancing “the movement”.
But what about Europe? Brussels has previously been marked by its very lack of free market think tanks, and its proliferation of EU funded “groups”. It is a fact that virtually all government funds which flow into lobbying/pressure groups go to leftist organizations. This fact underlies the damaging economic road the EU has chosen to go down in recent years, spurred by its “consultations” with these elite, quasi-independent interest groups.
But it seems that the conservatives are fighting back. On my recent trip to Brussels with ALEC, I attended a conference entitled Does the West Know Best, organized by The Stockholm Network. SN is a network of 120 market-oriented think tanks, working with Europe’s brightest policymakers and thinkers. Does the West Know Best examined the new EU member states’ more radical approaches to social and economic reform, such as flat taxation, the privatization of social security and moves towards more market-oriented health systems. I was awed to meet people from think tanks in places such as Croatia and Estonia, who have literally lived (or indeed still living) through the transition from communism to democracy. Their determination to pursue the ideals of the free market – regardless of the current political climate or pressure – amazed me. Newly elected Polish MEP Michal Kaminski frequently relays the story about how he learned about conservatism by listening to Mrs. Thatcher & President Reagan on the BBC World Service on a clandestine radio, hidden under his bed covers, for fear of the authorities.
Free market think tanks are now converging on Brussels, either directly or indirectly. The Center for New Europe, a non-profit, pro-market research foundation is headquartered in Brussels, popping up everywhere with its well-researched publications and arguments; SN’s Europe-wide network is rapidly developing into a formal arrangement of academics, policy practitioners, journalists and business people, exchanging market-oriented policy ideas and reform strategies right across the EU. The conservatives are seemingly back in Brussels. Lets hope for good.
Sally McNamara has been invited as a regular columnist for the London-based think tank, The Bruges Group. The Bruges Group is an independent all-party think tank, founded in February 1989 with the vision of a free trading, decentralized, deregulated and democratic Europe of nation-states. Its inspiration was Margaret Thatcher’s Bruges speech in September 1988, in which she remarked that, “We have not successfully rolled back the frontiers of the state in Britain, only to see them re-imposed at a European level.”
The Bruges Group can be found at http://brugesgroup.com
ALEC was privileged to host five conservative legislators from the European Parliament at a roundtable discussion on June 27th. Martin Callanan, Chris Heaton-Harris, Roger Helmer, Dan Hannan and Michal Tomasz Kaminski MEPs briefed ALEC members on a range of topics, including REACH, the draft European Constitution and the precautionary principle.
For further details of this meeting, please email email@example.com
ALEC’s Executive Director, Duane Parde, was invited to visit London last month in order to attend a gala dinner in honor of former Prime Minister, Lady Margaret Thatcher. At the personal invitation of British Conservative MEP Chris Heaton-Harris, Mr. Parde met Mrs. Thatcher, who later addressed the dinner, speaking through an aide.
ALEC’s International Relations Project Director, Sally McNamara, attended the Heritage Foundation’s conference “Is the European Union in the Interests of the United States?” Speakers included Christopher Booker (journalist and editor, UK Daily Telegraph), Judge Robert H. Bork (Distinguished Fellow, Hudson Institute) and The Rt. Hon David Heathcoat-Amory MP (British parliamentarian).
ALEC’s Adam Smith Scholar Roger Helmer MEP produces a monthly e-update on his parliamentary activities, entitled Straight Talking on Europe. To receive Straight Talking, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
ALEC was delighted to welcome Czech Republic MEP, Dr. Ivo Strejcek to its 32nd Annual Meeting in Grapevine, Texas. Dr. Strejcek spoke about the importance of the Transatlantic Relationship and the role of legislators in preserving the alliance. Christopher Horner, of the European Enterprise Institute, then spoke about the precautionary principle and the EU’s attempts to make it the international standard.
For copies of Dr. Strejcek or Mr. Horner’s PowerPoint presentations, please contact Sally McNamara – email@example.com
As part of its International Relations Project, ALEC took a group of legislators and private sector members to Strasbourg and Prague last month, and met with leading members of the European public policy community to debate various issues on the current global agenda. In Strasbourg, we were hosted at both the European Parliament and the U.S. Consulate General; In Prague, we were hosted at the Czech Parliament, Senate and the American Embassy. We were personally welcomed by Consulate General Frankie Reed and His Excellency William Cabaniss in Strasbourg and Prague respectively.
For more details and a full report on this educational exchange, please contact Sally McNamara – firstname.lastname@example.org
The Instituto Liberdade, an independent, free market Brazilian think-tank, is currently promoting ALEC’s paper on intellectual property rights and the global agenda. Addressing the Brazilian Government’s action with regard to breaking patents, (see “Spotlight On”), the Instituto Liberdade is disseminating this paper for the furtherance of public policy debate. To visit their website – http://www.il-rs.org.br/ilingles/
ALEC was privileged to attend the Autumn Strategy Meeting of the Transatlantic Policy Network in Washington D.C. this month. Entitled “The United States and the European Union: Working Together to Solve Global challenges”, TPN is a non-governmental, public-private network working for a stable, strong transatlantic partnership. Hosted at the Capitol, successful sessions were held on financial services, the digital economy and intellectual property rights.
Commission President José Manuel Barroso was hosted by President Bush at the White House last month, the first such bilateral meeting in the White House for many years. On the agenda was the WTO Doha Round, the deepening of transatlantic economic integration and the promotion of democracy in the world. Also in attendance were Commissioner for External Relations, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Vice-President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Angela Merkel, leader of Germany’s conservative Christian Democrats, was officially sworn in as their first woman chancellor on November 22, 2005. Chancellor Merkel will head a grand coalition with the centre-left Social Democrats, having failed to win an outright majority in the Bundestag. Notably, Mrs. Merkel is also the first chancellor from the former communist eastern part of Germany.
SALLY MCNAMARA, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS PROJECT DIRECTOR
As part of its annual exchange visits with European legislators, a bi-partisan, high-level ALEC delegation visited Strasbourg, France and Prague, Czech Republic last month.
Meeting in Strasbourg during the plenary session of the European Parliament, ALEC met with 20 European legislators, from several EU Member States and, in keeping with our non partisan philosophy, from differing Parliamentary parties. During this session, we were particularly proud to welcome Roger Helmer MEP as the first member of our new for international legislators membership program. Roger has served as ALEC’s Adam Smith Scholar for several years and will also attend our upcoming States and Nation Policy Summit in Washington D.C. next month. ALEC is delighted to continue this successful public policy exchange with Europe’s legislators.
ALEC’s Prague program was equally as exciting. It began with a series of meetings with representatives from the ODS Party, the Czech Republic’s conservative party and major opposition to the current left-wing government. We were welcomed by leading legislators, including Mirek Topolanek (Chairman of ODS) and Ivo Strejcek, Member of the European Parliament. Ivo addressed ALEC’s Annual Meeting in Texas earlier this year, and reminds us that the diversity and vibrancy of the European Parliament has been vastly enhanced with the inclusion of several hundred legislators from Eastern and Central Europe.
ALEC was also exceptionally privileged to be hosted at the American Embassy in Prague, to be personally welcomed by His Excellency, Ambassador William J. Cabaniss. In the spectacular surroundings of the Ambassador’s private residence, former Alabama State Legislator Mr. Cabaniss enthusiastically greeted ALEC and encouraged the continuance of deep bi-lateral relations between our two nations.
The ultimate mission of the international relations project is: “To foster a policy-based program for the promotion, exchange, and implementation of Jeffersonian principles at the international level.” With a varied program, meeting all levels of policy-makers, ALEC’s international visit successfully continues our dialogue with like-minded legislators, as well as establishing new working relationships throughout the international policy community.
ALEC’s Executive Director
The tragedy of the terrorist bombings in London seem all too vivid this side of the Atlantic – and not just because of our own recent experiences; the ‘special relationship’ that defines Anglo-American relations means that we have a shared understanding that these attacks are attacks on the liberty and freedom we fight together for, at home and abroad. We know that the sympathies and resolve of the American people are with the British people right now then – just as they stood shoulder-to-shoulder with us in the wake of 9/11.
I visited London for the second time this June, to meet with conservative legislators from both Westminster and Brussels. Newly elected Conservative Party MPs Robert Goodwill and Peter Bone both talked about the domestic policy scene in England, including the problems of devolving power down from the national governmental level. Although the Conservatives are in a minority at a national level, they are in the majority at the local level. But in the absence of any sort of ALEC model, they often have trouble benchmarking conservative policies or sharing information. Chris Heaton-Harris MEP, who stood for local election several times before entering the European Parliament, believes that ALEC’s formula of sharing model legislation and meeting on a consistent basis to share best practice is one that British Conservatives should now start to imitate.
I also met with several British MEPs in London, including Michal Tomasz Kaminski (Poland) and Roger Helmer (UK and ALEC’s Adam Smith Scholar). With the emergence of strong ‘new” member states in the European Union, like Poland, they too are having trouble bringing together genuinely conservative legislators to form international alliances. Michal Kaminski talked extensively about how well organized the left is, and how they bring fresh impetus to their work across the world with mutual support and information-sharing; he too is keen to use the ALEC model to bring international leadership to the conservative movement.
The highlight of the trip though had to be a gala dinner hosted in honor of former Prime Minister, Lady Margaret Thatcher. Despite turning 80 this October, the Iron Lady is still an imposing figure on the world stage; and our brief meeting seems all the more poignant now as America and Britain once again fight together to preserve our way of life – just as she did with such conviction throughout the Cold War with President Reagan.
Our two countries have shared the greatest of triumphs and the greatest of tragedies over the years, from the beaches of Normandy to the deserts of Iraq. My visit to London highlighted to me that this alliance is one that we conservatives must fight to preserve. ALEC’s model of sharing information and promoting policies rooted firmly in our Jeffersonian principles is surely the best place to start then.
Having officially launched its international
legislators’ membership program in Strasbourg in
October, ALEC is now registering local, regional,
national and international legislative members.
ALEC is an individual membership, non partisan
organization. For an application form, please contact
With three extremely distinguished speakers, ALEC
held its second international relations workshop of our
annual States and Nation Policy Summit in Washington
D.C. in December.
Following on from an extremely successful year of
policy development among ALEC’s members and our
new international contacts, ALEC was privileged to host
Mr. Roger Helmer (Member of the European Parliament,
UK), Dr. John K. Glenn (Director of Foreign Policy,
German Marshall Fund of the United States) and Dr.
Boguslaw Winid (Deputy Chief of Mission, Polish
Entitled “The Global Agenda: Why the Transatlantic
Relationship Really Matters,” Senator William G. Hewes
III, Chairman of ALEC’s International Relations
Committee, moderated three agenda items – (i) Topical
debates in today’s European Union, (ii) Emerging
international regulatory issues, including the
precautionary principle and protection of intellectual
property rights, and (iii) The wider global agenda and
the importance of the transatlantic relationship.
Roger Helmer MEP warned of the dangers of further
European integration and encouraged ALEC to apply its
Jeffersonian principles of federalism in its global outlook.
Boguslaw Winid welcomed the deep bilateral relations
that Poland shares with the United States, and expressed
concerns about burgeoning global regulatory frameworks
that work against the growing competitiveness of
emerging countries like Poland. And John Glenn laid out
the essentiality of further co-operation and dialogue
among transatlantic allies, for economic, social and
political reasons – if only to combat the differences that
threaten to divide the strongest democratic alliance in the
Having completed it first full year, the international
relations project has seen tremendous growth and support,
enhanced greatly by our partnership with legislators, the
private sector, academics, think tanks and diplomats from
right across Europe. We are now entering 2006 with
renewed vigor and a strong coalition of principled,
conservatively-minded policy makers. We have just
launched our new membership program for international
legislators, and are planning for our 2006 exchange visit
to Europe to be just as successful as 2005 (to Strasbourg,
France and Prague, Czech Republic).
ALEC looks forward to maintaining relations with all
of its partners – old and new – and working to maintain
its constructive dialogue on key transatlantic themes.
ALEC would also like to thank all of its partners for their
support last year and wish you all a happy 2006.
ALEC was privileged to be invited to the opening
of the Heritage Foundation’s Margaret Thatcher
Center for Freedom (February 16). In his speech to
new Center, Dr. Liam Fox MP (UK) lectured on the
special relationship between London and
Washington, assessing the challenges that lie ahead
for the United States and the United Kingdom, from
the NATO operation in Afghanistan to the Iranian
nuclear crisis and the growing threat of international
ALEC will hold an international relations seminar
with Bill Cash Member of Parliament (UK) on April
6. Bill Cash is President of the European
Foundation, a London-based think tank dedicated
to Euro-realist policy analysis of European Union
issues. Attendance by invitation-only. For
information, please email email@example.com
To strengthen cooperation and forge closer links between Jeffersonian-minded individuals throughout the world for the achievement of free markets, limited government, and individual liberty.
ALEC members have always been outward looking and prepared to play a full role in world affairs. Free trade is central to ALEC’s vision of the way nation states should relate to each other. In order to fully realize a broad and deep free market that reaches across the Atlantic, we need to mobilize strong leadership from legislators on both sides, as well as our business communities. Now, more than ever, conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic need to continue their challenge to over-taxing, over-borrowing and over-governing. At both the Member States level and within the EU itself. ALEC’s unique public-private model is in the perfect position to bring about this public policy dialogue, with an eye to realizing a free, lively transatlantic economy.
Public Sector Chair: Rep. Harold Brubaker, North Carolina
Private Sector Chair: Kenneth Lane, Diageo North America, Inc.
Director of International Relations
and the Atlantic Bridge Project, bio
202-466-3800 ext. 237
ALEC and the Institute for Policy Innovation (IPI)
co-hosted a discussion featuring distinguished guests
Syed Kamall, a Conservative Member of the European
Parliament (MEP) for London, and George Pieler, a
Senior Research Fellow at IPI, on June 20th at ALEC’s
Jefferson Conference Center in Washington, D.C. Both
gentlemen discussed the cumbersome bureaucratic
regulation of the European Union and their opposition
to its protectionist economic policies that have burdened
American companies and competitors across the world.
In fact, Mr. Pieler has written extensively about the
Microsoft case in which he asserts that the Europeans are
anti-Microsoft for no clear reason other than that they
are a large corporation and that large corporations are
This dynamic discussion on contemporary international
economic policy highlights ALEC’s rapidly growing
international affairs program. ALEC’s international
members, like their counterparts in the U.S., represent
both the public and private sectors, with the majority
of our public sector members serving in the European
Parliament. Mr. Kamall, one of the first International
ALEC members, is representative of his many
conservative colleagues in Europe who oppose the
European Constitution and the bureaucracy of Brussels
that stymie free trade and free markets.
To learn more about ALEC’s International Relations
program please visit us online at http://www.alec.org. To learn
more about the Institute for Policy Innovation please
Alec in Europe
The Atlantic Bridge Project – noone has been charged with any criminal offences
Gove’s education reforms are not for the benefit of the children
Roger Helmer – talking bollocks since the 1950′s
Chris Heaton-Harris getting an award