Eurosceptics to help Ganley if he is MEP candidate


LIBERTAS FOUNDER Declan Ganley has recruited two of Europe's most prominent Eurosceptics to help him if he decides to run in next year's European elections. He will travel to Paris tomorrow to speak at an event organised by a French Eurosceptic party, the Movement for France (MPF), to bolster his European links.

The former veteran Danish MEP Jens-Peter Bonde and Czech president Václav Klaus have pledged to support Mr Ganley to launch Libertas as a pan-EU political party. Both are ardent opponents of the EU and have tirelessly campaigned against policies that enable the EU to expand its activities beyond a common market.

In 2005, Mr Klaus called for the EU to be scrapped and replaced by a free-trade area called the "organisation of European states". He told visiting US diplomats in the same year that the EU was a "failed and bankrupt entity".

He is a trenchant opponent of the Lisbon Treaty and was the first EU leader to declare the treaty dead following the Irish No vote in June. Mr Klaus met Mr Ganley at his presidential palace outside Prague on July 29th for a private and initially unreported meeting.

The Czech newspaper Lidove noviny later quoted Mr Klaus's spokesman as saying: "They talked about the situation after the rejection of the Lisbon Treaty in Ireland. The president expressed his support for activities of Libertas."

Mr Klaus is scheduled to make an official visit to Ireland in November, but it is not yet clear if he intends to meet Mr Ganley or express support for Libertas during this visit. Libertas has also attracted the support of Mr Bonde, who has been a regular visitor to Ireland during EU referendum campaigns and is a leading critic of the treaty.

Mr Bonde was first elected as an MEP in 1979 as a candidate for the People's Movement Against the EU, a Danish political party that advocated Denmark's withdrawal from the union. He is now president of the EU Democrats, an EU-wide umbrella network that provides a political platform for groups seeking fundamental change in the EU.

He is widely recognised as one of the most intelligent and knowledgeable opponents of EU integration and published a reader-friendly critique of the Lisbon treaty on his website.

Mr Bonde told The Irish Timesyesterday he would work as an adviser to Mr Ganley, but he would not take any public or administrative role with Libertas in the future.

"Mr Ganley is a strong communicator with a strong message. If they overrule the Irish vote in a referendum on Lisbon, I would expect him to run in the elections next year," said Mr Bonde, who added that the elections may become an EU-wide referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.

Mr Ganley said yesterday Mr Bonde had a serious intellect and he hoped he was one of the intellectual resources that Libertas could call on in a future campaign. He said he had still not made any final decision on whether to campaign in the elections and this still depended on whether the Government decided to respect the Irish No vote to Lisbon.

Asked about his meeting with Mr Klaus, Mr Ganley said he was a deeply intelligent man. "He has an amazing background of standing up to the Soviets and is a national hero in the Czech Republic. Is his perspective on Europe the same as mine? No. But he is one of those people who had the courage to ask the hard questions," he added.

Mr Ganley repeated his assertion that he was a pro-European that opposed Lisbon, noting that this is "the first time Brussels is being challenged by enthusiastic Europeans".

Tomorrow Mr Ganley will speak at the summer school of the MPF party in Paris, which campaigned for an end to European integration and a No vote in the French referendum held on the EU constitution in May 2005.