Sir Graham Watson MEP: "Over 3 million jobs in the UK depend on trade with the EU"

OneEurope is presenting a series of interviews with MEPs in order to help Europeans make an informed decision for the elections. You can find the others in our debate on the European Elections 2014.

Sir Graham Watson MEP is a Liberal Democrat MEP, representing the South West of England and Gibraltar.

He was first elected to the European Parliament in 1994 and has served continuously since. In January 2002 he also became the leader of “The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe” (ALDE), composed of 55 national-level liberal parties from across Europe. 

Graham was the first British Liberal Democrat to be elected to the European Parliament. He studied Modern Languages in Edinburgh and is fluent in four European languages. 

OneEurope: What made you stand as an MEP candidate again?

Sir Graham Watson MEP: I decided to stand again as a Liberal Democrat candidate for the European Parliament, because I believe the work of the EP is becoming increasingly important and I hope to be able to continue to contribute to it in the next mandate.

OE: What would be the first thing that you would do in Brussels, if you were elected?

GW: As President of the ALDE Party my first job after the elections will be to convene the Liberal Prime Ministers and Ministers to prepare for the EU summit that will choose the next European Commission and other EU top jobs.

OE: What are your top three reasons in favor of the UK remaining part of the EU?

GW: Jobs, crime and the environment. There are over 3 million jobs in the UK that depend on trade with the EU. It is vital for our police and judges to cooperate with their counterparts across Europe in order to fight cross-border crime. And finally, we need to work together with our neighbours to fight environmental challenges like climate change.

OE: You were on the first roll when the honoured leader of the Bulgarian Movement for Rights and Freedoms was attacked during a party conference in January last year. The party’s second candidate for the European elections is the highly controversial Delyan Peevski whose appointment as a President of the State Agency “National Security” led to the beginning of the anti government protests in the country. How does the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party feel about his candidature?

GW: It is up to every ALDE Party member party to choose its candidates for the European elections, it would not be appropriate for the ALDE Party to get involved in that kind of detail.

OE: Would you support the proposal of the Polish Prime Minister Tusk for a European energy union?

GW: I don't think finding different ways to buy Russian gas and fracking our own is the answer to Europe's energy security. Instead we should be developing our own abundant renewable energy sources and create a European green electricity union.

OE: What do you think about the winner of Eurovision song contest this year?

Well, I would wager that she might be voting Liberal next week! On a serious note, I think Conchita's victory is a great symbol of Europe's openness, tolerance and - in a word - Liberalism!

OE: If you could change one thing that happened in the EU during the last 12 months, what would it be?

GW: To have got the French to respect the same economic discipline as everyone else!

This interview has been organized and taken by Yuliya Kosharevska.