ELDR, the pan-European Liberal party that is part of ALDE in the European Parliament (and counts the UK Liberal Democrats, Irish Fianna Fáil and Dutch VVD among its ranks), is holding its last day of its annual congress in Helsinki today. I've only found out about it today, due to a blog post disappointed that the pro-European Liberal Democrats have not sent some MPs to the congress, and EUobserver's reporting of ELDR unease with the VVD-led government's reliance on Geert Wilders' PVV party in the Dutch Parliament. Recently I haven't been that attentive to Twitter, so I may have missed any party buzz from it, but a quick look at the ELDR Twitter account shows that there have only been 12 Tweets since the start of the congress, at the time of writing.
Still, now that I had discovered the ELDR Congress, I went to their website to check up on any news. So far there have been 3 news articles - on the opening of the congress, on the increased turnout at the congress, and one congratulating the VVD on becoming the senior governing party in the Netherlands. Not only is there no press release so far on discussions about the congress's theme - Demographic Change - but there seems to be no mention of the congress on the party's blog, or any of the blogs linked on its blog page, apart from a short descriptive one in Swedish.
The theme of the congress is one that's very relevant today, as immigration and welfare state reform in the face of the economic crisis are clearly the major issues, so it's disappointing that so far little has emerged on the Eurozone economy, the welfare state, or immigration. It's important to have a coherent position on this, given the free movement of workers within the EU, and that the Lib Dems in the UK and (more pressingly) the VVD in the Netherlands have to deal with demands for restrictions on immigration. Indeed, Geert Wilders has supposedly vetted the new Dutch immigration minister. The ELDR leader, Annemie Neyts-Uyttebroeck, said that she was sure that the VVD would stick to liberal principles, but also supported the mooted banning of the burqa in the Netherlands (Neyts-Uyttebroeck is from Belgium) - something that I consider to be an illiberal position.
The last day isn't over yet, and some news and party positions - or even a clearer overview of what was discussed - might emerge after the Congress ends. It seems unlikely that anything very interesting will suddenly come to light when everyone has packed up and gone home, however. Even if interest in the ELDR Congress would have been low even if it was more open and accessible, ELDR have missed a chance to promote themselves as a party online, and I wonder at the political will of a party that seems to not even bother to reach out with such an event.
[In other news, I've just noticed that ALDE's website has undergone a redesign].