May 26, 2014
by Petros Fassoulas, Chairman of the European Movement UK///
The rise of UKIP and other far-right movements across Europe is a manifestation of the electorates’ disapproval of mainstream political parties and their handling of the financial crisis that engulfed the world in 2008.
Their dissatisfaction is justified. But the European Elections come at a time when the British and European economy are turning a corner. With growth on the up, modestly but consistently, and employment numbers rising, the overall sentiment towards the EU has been improving, both at home and across the rest of Europe and recent polls by YouGov, IpsosMori, Pew Research have demonstrated that the majority of people are in favour of EU membership. Despite UKIP’s rise, 70% of voters opted for parties that want Britain to remain part of the EU.
Mainstream political parties should not use the EU as a fig leaf to cover their failings. What is needed is leadership and real solutions to the challenges facing the country and Europe. The populist and xenophobic panaceas offered by far right parties are not the answer, as our not so distant history has shown.
Britain and our European parties need to focus on re-doubling efforts to make the EU an engine for growth, job creation and prosperity again. The sooner we put the economic and financial crisis behind us the more we will be able to focus on the things we can do better together, tackling our collective challenges with our partners, investing our focus on the areas that the EU can deliver added value for its members and people.
The European Parliament has a crucial role to play in that effort. British MEPs – with the exception of UKIP ones – have led the charge for an EU that is focused, efficient and effective.
Unfortunately UKIP MEPs have consistently failed to work for their constituents and promote British positions. They are the least hardworking of all MEPs. At a time when Britain and Europe needs all hands on deck they have been sleeping on the job and I do not expect the new batch to perform any better.
It is all the more important that the rest of the MEPs we send to Brussels are influential, involved, active and constructive, prepared to engage, build alliances, lead, write reports, vote and be part of the decisions that affect us all.
The EU remains a mirror reflection of the things that Britain stands for; democracy, open markets and trade, the respect for the rule of law, the protection of the environment and our fundamental rights. We must continue to make the positive pro-EU case and provide an alternative vision of hope, in clear contrast with the isolationist, defeatist and ultimately economically harmful message of UKIP and far right parties.
Author : European Movement UK