Greens want progressive, radical change. At national level, we want Westminster elections to become truly representative, an end to practices favouring tradition over democracy and accountability, like the unelected House of Lords, and action to tackle the unacceptable influence of big business over UK politics. We want a UK Government with a different set of priorities for Britain. But we don’t argue for abolishing national government in Westminster.
Similarly, at European level we are arguing for a Green vision of the EU. UK Green MEPs want to continue to work with other Green MEPs elected to the European Parliament from across the EU, currently making a political group of around 50. We are working together to build a people-centred Europe – greener, more democratic, and which, crucially, constrains powerful global corporations and protects our rights. In particular, economic activity must serve society and not compromise the environment, which means the free-market must be challenged. So at European level Greens want stronger EU social and environmental standards and for these to be given primacy above competition and the single market.
Greens also recognise the potential for the EU to have a greater positive impact internationally, in terms of climate action, human rights, peace and global justice. We make no apology for having a profoundly different vision for Europe and the UK’s role in it, compared to the Government and other political voices in the UK. We reject the Eurosceptic claim that the EU is ‘unreformable’. The EU is no more unreformable than Westminster, and leaving doesn’t bring our vision of Europe any closer. The opportunity to make this vision real is only possible if we remain in the EU!
The green vision:
- Social and environmental standards to be given primacy over single market rules and competitiveness.
- EU action against the dominance of powerful corporations [corporate influence should be tackled with a powerful legally-binding EU lobby register and EU measures to end the ‘revolving door’ between the private sector and public institutions] and an end to trade deals like TTIP which allow corporate interests to compromise democracy.
- A social Europe, with stronger, not weaker, protection of our rights, enabling UK and other EU citizens to travel, study, work, live and retire in other EU member states.
- An EU that promotes equality and diversity.
- More ambitious EU environmental protection and climate action, for example to achieve 100% renewable energy by at least 2050.
- Stronger EU action on banking regulation and tax justice including an EU-wide financial transaction tax, tougher EU rules to close tax loopholes and tackle tax fraud and evasion.
- An EU that protects and fosters small-scale economic activity and local/regional distinctiveness.
- A Europe that is a greater force for good in the world, promoting peace, human rights and justice – internationally and within the EU.
- A citizens’ Europe with greater democracy – voting at 16, more involvement of national parliaments, a stronger European Citizens’ Initiative, and introduction of EU-wide referenda.
- A stronger, more effective European Parliament.
Five ways to strengthen the European Parliament:
The European Parliament is elected by proportional representation across the whole EU and has a strong democratic mandate. It needs greater powers relative to the other EU institutions, including in these five areas:
- the power to initiate legislation [currently this is limited to the Commission].
- the power to amend and veto the Commission’s work programme and to appoint, censure and dismiss individual Commissioners.
- the right for European Parliament committees to demand papers and testimony from the Council and the Commission.
- appointment and scrutiny powers over the European Central Bank.
- the right for the European Parliament to decide its own seat [Green MEPs have led calls to end the Parliament’s rotation between Brussels and Strasbourg. The European Parliament has repeatedly called for a single seat, but is not empowered to enact this. The decision remains with the Member States via the European Council and requires all Member States to agree].
This article can be found in the report, Why-Greens-Say-Yes-To-Europe, recently published by UK Green MEPs.