All people of all genders have the right to bodily autonomy. Denying women the right to safely and legally terminate a pregnancy is incompatible with the right to bodily autonomy. All women, regardless of their personal circumstances, should be empowered to make their own decisions about their pregnancies without external interference or condemnation. LYMEC therefore supports the provision of abortion upon request up to and including the 22nd week of pregnancy. In cases of rape, severe fetal abnormality or risk to the mother’s health, abortions should continue to be available after the 22nd week.
We are alarmed by growing interference by some European governments in the field of higher education and academic research. Freedom of speech and thought are core liberal values, and it is clear that these values are not always being respected within the EU. We call on the EU to take greater measures to support and respect academic freedom and research, as long as such research adheres to ethical guidelines.
Interest in the Arctic and the economic possibilities which it offers is growing. LYMEC calls for mandatory risk and environmental impact assessments as a prerequisite for any economic activity launched in the Arctic region. In particular, it is vital to respect and protect the Arctic’s indigenous populations and their ways of life.
Additionally, a proper EU strategy towards the Arctic is vital; emphasis should be placed on research and cooperation between Member States and third countries, to ensure that activity in the region is conducted responsibly and in a sustainable manner.
We regret the decision taken by the United Kingdom to withdraw from the Erasmus+ programme, particularly as this withdrawal contradicted a pledge by the UK Government that UK universities would continue to participate in the scheme. Additionally, the Brexit process resulted in the UK withdrawing from the European Medicines Agency, Europol and Euratom. While recognising that Brexit is unlikely to be reversed in the foreseeable future, we at LYMEC nevertheless call on the EU and the UK to construct and maintain the closest possible relationship, in particular one that involves the UK re-joining Erasmus+, Europol and Euratom, as none of these schemes require EU membership as a prerequisite. We urge both sides to come to a resolution on the democratic deficit in Northern Ireland, and to respect and protect the rights of UK citizens living in the EU and EU citizens living in the UK.
LYMEC considers that conscription is incompatible with modern liberal values: additionally, it infringes on the rights of individuals to choose their own employment and pursue their own interests. We stand in total opposition to any form of mandatory military or public service in all European countries.
Cyber warfare and attacks are a growing but under-recognised problem. There is a real risk posed by attackers to critical infrastructure and services, and increasingly, free and democratic elections are also vulnerable to cyber attacks. LYMEC calls for greater recognition of this problem by the EU, and for urgent, close and sustained cooperation between Member States to react to and tackle cyber threats. In particular, we call for greater competence and funding to be awarded to the European Union Agency for Cyber Security (ENISA).
Policymakers must remain alert to the challenges and threats to privacy posed by society’s increasing reliance on data. The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union recognises an explicit right to protection of personal data, but the question of what constitutes a justified interference or limitation to this right is not satisfactorily answered, leaving the door open to possible abuses. There is an unacceptable lack of transparency surrounding the existence and activities of mass communications surveillance programs such as PRISM and Tempora, and the EU must lead a more open conversation about the threat to citizens’ rights posed by these programs.
Additionally, although GDPR has in many ways come to represent an international standard for the data privacy of individual users, it maintains a status quo which is arguably no longer serving the best interests of individuals. In particular, new models of individual consent to data processing need to be explored and implemented.
LYMEC believes that the repressive model of drugs regulation has failed: in response to criminalization of many drugs, cartel activity has soared, and abuse of prescription drugs is widespread. The EU and its Member States must rethink their attitude towards drugs, and focus more on regulation, harm prevention and rehabilitation, rather than simple prohibition.
While recognising that the diversity of Europe’s education systems is to some extent a good thing, LYMEC is strongly in favour of a greater harmonisation of educational standards and the establishment of common values. Foreign language education should begin at the earliest possible age; schools and universities should place greater emphasis on critical thinking skills; educational institutions should do more to foster a sense of European values among young people; and there should be greater standardisation in the tertiary education sector, to allow for students to move easily between different providers and experience life in other countries.
LYMEC is deeply concerned by rising levels of atmospheric CO2, widespread pollution and environmental degradation, and the growing prevalence of extreme weather events. We call urgently on the EU to prioritise the transition to a carbon neutral economy and to impose higher standards on private bodies whose operations contribute to the problem. Strategies such as the European Emissions Trading System must be strengthened, and an urgent plan on reducing plastic consumption is needed.
In general, we believe that the composition of the European Commission does not sufficiently reflect the political composition of the European Parliament. Additionally, there is a concerning lack of transparency surrounding the appointment of the President of the Commission. We therefore strongly support the development and introduction of a new process to appoint the Commission President and College of Commissioners, involving a greater input from the political groupings of the European Parliament.
European Military Cooperation
While recognising the successes of the European Common Security and Defence Policy, LYMEC believes that the focus of the European Union should turn to the creation of a European Defence Force, which would allow the Union to better address the security and defence challenges of the 21st century. In particular, such a force would allow for greater focus on conflict prevention and would also provide extra support to civil authorities in times of humanitarian crisis or natural disaster.
European Railway Authority
LYMEC is highly supportive of the establishment of a new European Railway Authority, which would be tasked with the planning and construction of a high-speed, low-carbon railway network connecting major European cities and urban areas. Affordable and reliable rail travel would drastically cut carbon emissions by offering an attractive alternative to flight, and such a major infrastructure project would create valuable employment opportunities.
LYMEC is in favour of the introduction of voluntary euthanasia in specific and carefully controlled situations, where a patient’s suffering is incurable and second medical opinions have been sought. However, we believe strongly that there should never be any duty placed on medical professionals to perform euthanasia.
Free Movement of Labour
LYMEC regards free movement of labour as being a positive force for both ‘sending’ and ‘hosting’ countries; moreover, it is one of the fundamental freedoms of the EU. We believe that transitional restriction periods for new EU member States should be abolished, and call upon all liberal organisations to promote free movement of labour.
Additionally, LYMEC calls upon Member States to simplify hiring and firing procedures within their economies, and on the EU to develop and promote flexibility in the labour market, while ensuring security for job seekers. Finally, lifelong learning should be promoted throughout the EU, both among jobseekers and the employed, to support European competitiveness on the global stage.
Freedom of Belief
LYMEC believes that respect for freedom of thought and belief is a core liberal value, and that discrimination on the grounds of religious belief or background is never acceptable. However, we believe that freedom of speech must include the right to question, criticise or satirise any and all religions. Moreover, states and governments should be strictly secular on all religious matters.
Freedom of Speech
We consider freedom of speech to be a core liberal value, and one that must be rigorously defended. To this end, we urge all Member States which maintain lèse-majesté and/or blasphemy laws to repeal them, as standard laws against libel and defamation are all that is necessary.
LYMEC recognises the opportunities offered by globalisation and the maximisation of free trade. In general, protectionism and free trade barriers serve only to prop up unviable industries and support state budgets: they do not benefit consumers and do not facilitate sustainable economic development. We thus believe that the EU must embrace globalisation by taking the necessary steps to develop into a dynamic, information and knowledge-based economy, which will in turn render emerging economies in other regions an opportunity, rather than a competitive threat.
Health Crisis Management
Insufficient coordination has been one of the biggest problems faced by the EU as it works to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. To deal with future public health crises, a much faster and more harmonised response is necessary.
LYMEC therefore calls for agencies such as the European Centre for Disease Control to be awarded new powers to intervene more rapidly. Additionally, we support the creation of an EU Infection Protection Regulation which would empower the European Commission to implement travel restrictions regarding the entry into the European Union. Finally, we call for greater solidarity between Member States in health matters, including the coordination of an effective vaccination strategy for all European citizens.
LYMEC considers that the current rules surrounding asylum applications create a catch-22 situation for asylum seekers, even those in a state of genuine humanitarian crisis. This increases demand for dangerous and illegal trafficking services, resulting in enormous human suffering and even death.
We therefore call on all EU Member States to commonly introduce a “humanitarian visa system”, which would allow refugees to enter the EU territory legally, and thus be able to seek asylum on humanitarian grounds upon arrival. All Member States should adopt common criteria for these humanitarian visas. There should be cooperation at European Union level to allow asylum seekers to apply for asylum in all Member States.
Free movement of people in the EU requires a robust strategy to combat human trafficking. LYMEC calls for the EU to do more to prevent human trafficking, including appointing impartial rapporteurs and doing more to tackle the issue at its roots.
Although it is not a Member State of the European Union, Iceland is closely integrated with the EU through its participation in the EEA, its membership of the Schengen Area, and its participation in social and cultural programmes including Erasmus+. In the event that the Icelandic people express a desire to join or further integrate with the EU, LYMEC calls for the establishment of a clear and concrete path towards such integration.
LYMEC is strongly in favour of the introduction of uniform biometric ID cards for countries within the Schengen zone. This would facilitate travel within the zone and strengthen cross-border security.
Integration of migrants
Although the need for integration and inclusion measures for third country nationals residing in the EU has been recognised by the European Institutions, LYMEC considers that not enough work has been done in this area. We call on the Union and Member States to allocate more funding and resources to integration schemes and practices, especially those targeted at children and young people. There should be an emphasis placed on establishing swift procedures for the recognition of training and qualifications of migrants, to ensure quick labour market integration and to fill skills shortages.
LYMEC considers that the European Neighbourhood Policy has been largely unsuccessful in promoting democratic development in ENP countries, and that there has been a failure on the level of the European Council to liberalise visa arrangement and promote free trade. We are strongly in favour of a revitalised Neighbourhood Policy, including sufficient funding for student and cultural exchanges; building links between European and Neighbourhood Countries’ infrastructure; removal of trade barriers; and renewed focus on the promotion of democracy and the rule of law.
Nord Stream 2
LYMEC is concerned by the construction of Nord Stream 2 for a number of reasons. Significantly, increased European dependence on Russian gas gives the Russian government a heightened degree of influence in European affairs. Additionally, European economies should be decarbonising and reducing their reliance on fuels such as natural gas. We call for the Nord Stream 2 construction project to be abandoned, and for European governments to invest in solutions which allow Europe to minimise its involvement with the Russian government.
As the global population continues to rise, so too will the demand for affordable and reliable energy. Even if fossil fuels could meet this rising demand, continuing to rely on them will have catastrophic impacts on the environment, and must be ruled out. Although LYMEC supports the transition to renewable energy sources such as solar and hydropower, it is important to be realistic: these sources are less reliable and the energy they produce is unaffordable for many people. Nuclear energy offers the means to cheaply and efficiently meet energy needs, while carrying a minimal risk to the environment. Nuclear technology is constantly improving and becoming safer. We call for greater investment in nuclear energy in Europe, and for European governments to recognise the necessity of urgently moving away from fossil fuels.
Preventing radicalisation is a key step to preventing terrorist extremist and violence. We believe in the importance of tackling the root causes of radicalisation within our societies - causes such as poverty, social exclusion, racism and discrimination. We acknowledge that radicalisation can occur in any social, religious or ideological grouping, and believe that greater engagement, particularly with young people, is key to preventing it.
Discrimination against individuals based on sexual or gender orientation is incompatible with liberal values. LYMEC regrets that certain EU Member States still do not allow same-sex couples to enter into marriage, and that civil partnerships and other legally-recognised partnerships do not always confer the same benefits as marriage. We believe strongly that all forms of contractual partnership must be given equal status and confer equivalent rights as heterosexual marriage; furthermore, we would urge the European Commission to amend the Founding Treaties to introduce same-sex marriage in all Member States.
The right to self-determination of all people is contained in, among others, the Charter of the United Nations. LYMEC calls upon all European Member States to recognise this right, and to commit to solving questions of self-determination through peaceful and democratic means, keeping in mind always the need for respect for the rule of law, and human and fundamental rights.
We call upon the EU to act as a facilitator in cases where a dialogue between states and region in cases where dialogue within a legal framework has collapsed.
Against a backdrop of growing vaccine scepticism, LYMEC believes that the EU and its Member States must do more to encourage vaccine uptake among all populations. The EU and Member States must do more to combat the spread of false information regarding vaccinations, and must work harder to communicate the benefits of vaccinations to citizens.
LYMEC recognises a common desire on the parts of both the EU and the Western Balkan states for EU integration. We support a renewed focus on the Western Balkan states and call upon the EU institutions and Member States to increase their support for economic development in the Western Balkan region. In particular, we call upon the EU to support the development of a common market, as outlined in the Sarajevo Declaration, and we call upon the Western Balkan states to move forward with internal reforms and the implementation of the Copenhagen criteria.