Jim DeMint / June 1, 2015

An Alliance Carrying the Torch of Freedom in Europe

Last weekend, I had the honor of attending a meeting of the Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists in Winchester, England. The organization consists of members of the European Parliament from 15 European Union nations and Turkey and works with several “regional partners” including Canada, Australia and the United States. The Alliance opposes the centralized bureaucracy of the European Union. As laid forth in its Reykjavik Declaration, the group favors “the exercise of power at the lowest practicable level — by the individual where possible, by local or national authorities in preference to supranational bodies.” It supports individual liberty, freedom from oppressive tax and regulatory regimes, and the rights of free speech and worship. It is inspiring that there are groups of Europeans keeping the torch of freedom burning even as some of their governments act to dampen it.

Last weekend, I had the honor of attending a meeting of the Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists in Winchester, England. The organization consists of members of the European Parliament from 15 European Union nations and Turkey and works with several “regional partners” including Canada, Australia and the United States.

The Alliance opposes the centralized bureaucracy of the European Union. As laid forth in its Reykjavik Declaration, the group favors “the exercise of power at the lowest practicable level — by the individual where possible, by local or national authorities in preference to supranational bodies.” It supports individual liberty, freedom from oppressive tax and regulatory regimes, and the rights of free speech and worship. It is inspiring that there are groups of Europeans keeping the torch of freedom burning even as some of their governments act to dampen it.

I find that liberty-minded people have much the same concerns, whether in the United States or across the Atlantic. Although we have distinct governments, they’re seeing the problems with centralized power just like we’ve experienced in the United States.

The issue of immigration is just as contentious a subject in England and the continent as it is here. Perhaps more so: The vast cultural differences between European countries and millions of their new residents has resulted in large minorities of immigrants who are opposed to the principles of free speech, freedom of worship, women’s rights and other values of their adoptive societies.

This debate has grown even more furious at the prospect of the European Union forcing member nations to accept immigration quotas — regardless of whether the newcomers are well suited to their host countries or whether the current citizens like it.

Further, just as Americans have experienced the fallout from Washington picking winners and losers in the marketplace and an unaccountable Federal Reserve fiddling with our money, many Europeans see centralized economic and monetary policies as a road away from prosperity, not toward it. The Euro was supposed to act as a unifying, stabilizing force for the European Union, but it has exposed well-managed nations to the risks and unsustainable debts of irresponsible ones. Too many Europeans have had their future put in the hands of foreign bankers or reckless governments, instead of with their own elected representatives.

Particularly in England, it’s easy to see the painful lessons being learned about centralized, government-run health care systems. On each of my last two visits, London newspapers were running front page stories about the latest scandal at the National Health Service — from patients dying without treatment to billions of dollars in waste. I hope we can replace Obamacare with a patient-centered system before it metastasizes into something similar.

I’m glad the Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists is doing good work in Europe. Although we consider many aspects of the American Founding to be original ideas, the vital concepts of individual rights, freedom of speech, free economies and common law came from long philosophical and political traditions in England and the continent. It would be a dark day for the world if either America or Europe abandoned them.


Republished from The Daily Signal.

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