European Movement UK

Britain's future is with Europe! Join the debate and put your opinion forward!

by Jean Lambert MEP, Greens, London ///

I was at the Green/EFA Group’s hearing for the European Commission President-designate, Mr Juncker. As far as I am concerned the priorities of the next Commission should be to deliver a low-carbon economy, to seriously tackle the gross economic and social inequalities within the EU and to connect people to policy and process. I am afraid I di not hear much about that. There were some glimmers of hope – on fracking, state-investor-dispute-settlement, public services, energy efficiency – but nothing that made you think there was any real grasp of the urgent need for change. I saw more vision from the Communications published last week from Commissioners Andor and Potocnik (Employment and Environment respectively) on Green Jobs, Circular Economy and the Waste Target review. Just to get these documents through the Commission has been a difficult task: I am not convinced that Mr. Juncker wants to challenge the negative forces, supporting vested business interests, in the Commission.

We now have 3 UK Greens in the European Parliament and we will be working with our Green colleagues from across Europe to challenge and energise the Grand Coalition of centre-right, centre-left and liberal parties in the European Parliament, not simply to oppose it. We want a positive role for the EU.

The EU should be taking a strong lead in the run-up to the Paris Conference on Climate Change in 2015. We know the climate crisis is not going away and this meeting could set the direction of global policy for the next decade. This is a priority area for us.

Our newest Green MEP, Molly Scott-Cato, will be working on economic reform. If we’re looking for investment to provide the 21st century environmental and energy infrastructure that we need, getting companies to pay their taxes, tackling tax havens and bringing banks back to the real economy are crucially important changes.

The Italian Presidency’s willingness to engage in the “Beyond GDP” process is something to be pursued. If the EU had applied the “Gross National Happiness” (GNH) analysis to the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), would the Grand Coalition still be going ahead? As the EP’s former Chair of the South Asia Delegation, which includes Bhutan, I know that the GNH process is a strong tool and not a fluffy concept to be dismissed.

Many of the areas we want to develop as Greens – the low-carbon economy, ambitious environmental legislation, the decent work agenda based on strong labour rights, reducing inequalities, a progressive migration policy, strengthening human rights, reform of the financial sector – are going in totally the opposite direction to the Cameron reform agenda for the EU. We see his agenda as going backwards and not providing any sort of positive vision for the EU.

So it’s likely that a significant part of our time in this Parliament will be spent in putting forward a Green case for our continuing membership of the EU. It’s not about business-as-usual or going backwards, but about reframing the EU, including its economy, to deal with the future of our planet, tackling inequalities and promoting human rights. The EU can do that and that’s what the UK Greens will be promoting in this European Parliament as part of the pro-EU opposition to the Grand Coalition.


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