Borders MP Michael Moore has been appointed European spokesperson on the Liberal Democrat election team, and he is ready to take the fight to the country.
“Passions are running high about Europe but my view is pragmatic - it matters to us that we are part of Europe,” said Mr Moore.
“Just look around Berwickshire and the Borders, and more widely, and it makes a huge amount of sense to stay in Europe.
“Things do need to change though - it needs reform and over the last few months I have been writing a report about how the UK’s relationship with Europe needs to change.”
While understanding the concerns that many people in this country have about the EU Mr Moore believes that the UK needs to be a more committed player in Europe, whether its fishing, agriculture or general business. Ministers have been too willing to sit on the side lines and wait to see what others do before taking action, and that, says Mr Moore, has to stop.
He would like to see the debate move away from some of the “exciteable and nonsensical” claims why Britain should be out of Europe, and focus on trade and business.
A year ago Mr Moore was appointed Lib Dem European business adviser by Nick Clegg and he recently produced the report ‘Doing Business in Europe’ concluding that 14 key areas of change are required.
These include: setting out a UK-EU business agenda for EU Commissioners and MEPs, explaining UK priorities for growth, jobs and competitiveness; developing a timetable to extend the single market for services starting with networked industries and digital commerce, while also having trade talks with the USA; tackling the burden of unnecessary regulation and introducing a ‘one in one out’ approach; the creation of a Government European Business Minister, who will have a clear statement of priorities for the UK; establishment of a European Business unit to support the European Business Minister; strengthening business links by hosting an annual European Business Conference and providing business representatives with Government support; and creating a career structure to encourage UK nationals to take positions in EU institutions.
“Europe is a key issue for people in the Borders, including farmers and exporting businesses,” said Mr Moore. “Nationally, it matters hugely and making the sensible case for a reformed European Union is very important at this time.”