Our 20th anniversary - Website of the European Democrats

The founding path of the
European Democratic Party

Website of the European Democrats - https://democrats.euWebsite of the European Democrats - https://democrats.euWebsite of the European Democrats - https://democrats.eu
Website of the European Democrats - https://democrats.eu

June 1999

In June 1999, Europeans voted for a new Parliament. The EPP achieved an excellent result, with 233 MEPs elected, but it was torn apart by internal divisions, in particular between the eurosceptic fringes (led by the British Conservatives) or those too inclined to dialogue and govern with the right (the ÖFP - Austrian People's Party, for example) and the so-called "Schuman defenders", who met on 13 April 2003 in an internal EPP working group. They were joined by François Bayrou and Jean-Louis Bourlanges for the French UDF, as well as some fifty other Dutch, Belgian, Luxembourg, Italian, Spanish and German MEPs: the declared aim was to "reject any temptation to extremism" and "avoid a drift towards Euroscepticism".

Reject any temptation to extremism and avoid a drift towards Euroscepticism.

Website of the European Democrats - https://democrats.eu

This brings us to 2004

The year of the European elections, to be held from 10 to 13 June. The initiative comes from François Bayrou, who is in contact with Romano Prodi, then President of the European Commission, but above all a person very close to the Italian Margherita, a centre party led by Francesco Rutelli. The intention is to create, with other EPP dissidents, a new European party with decidedly federalist features: "The French centrists accuse the EPP of preferring the strategy of numbers to that of ideals, and say they can no longer find the objectives of European construction they defined for themselves in the 1970s. Federalism and social justice are no longer in the spotlight,' reported the French daily " Les Echos "on 4 March 2004.

On 6 April, it was Sandro Gozi, an exponent very close to Romano Prodi, who took the initiative of convening an operational meeting in Brussels attended by Marielle de Sarnez and Jean-Louis Bourlanges of the Union for French Democracy (UDF), Gérard Deprez of the Belgian Citizens' Movement for Change (MCC), Josu Ortuondo of the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV), Lapo Pistelli of the Italian Margherita, Salvador Sedo of the Democratic Union of Catalonia (UDC) and representatives of the Belgian Humanist Democratic Centre (CdH) and the Italian People's Party (PPI). On 1 May, Bayrou himself travelled to Poland to meet Bronislaw Geremek of the Union of Freedom (UW).

The die is cast. On 7 May 2004, in an interview with "Le Monde", Bayrou bluntly stated that :

Europe needs a great democratic party, neither conservative nor socialist, which takes up the spirit of the founding fathers

🇪🇺 And again, in words that are as relevant today as ever : 🇪🇺

Both the EPP and the PES have allowed themselves to be colonised from within by powerful forces that are distancing themselves from the European project. In the EPP, for example, there are conservative eurosceptics. And Mr Berlusconi defends the accession of Turkey, Russia, the Maghreb and Israel. It is not the idea of a united, homogeneous Europe, a player on the world stage, that inspired the founders”. Two days later, on 9 May, representatives of a dozen European parties gathered at the UDF headquarters in Paris to celebrate 'Europe Day' and lay the foundations of the new European party.

A few days after the elections and after a meeting with Graham Watson, president of ALDE, to prepare the new party's entry into the new parliamentary group, François Bayrou called a press conference with Francesco Rutelli to launch the PDE. The founding general assembly of the PDE will take place on , a 13 July 2004 date that coincides with the start of the European legislature. The founding parties are the UDF, the Margherita, the MCC, the Lithuanian Labour Party, the Czechs of Path of Change and the Cypriots of New Horizons, for a total of 25 MEPs within the 88-member 'Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe'. On 11 September, the Margherita National Party closed in Monopoli, Italy, with a debate on European issues: among the speakers were Josu Jon Imaz, then president of the Basque PNV , Francesco Rutelli and François Bayrou. Radio Radicale recorded the event.

Website of the European Democrats - https://democrats.eu


The first founding congress of the European Democratic Party finally took place in Brussels on 9 December 2004. Co-presidents François Bayrou and Francesco Rutelli were appointed, while Romano Prodi, outgoing President of the European Commission, was honorary president.


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