DEAR EUROPEAN CITIZEN,
We want to invite you to participate in the European Parliament elections on May 22nd-25th, 2014. And we want you to vote Green.
This year sees the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War and is 57 years after the Treaty of Rome marked the founding of what is now the European Union. European unification has freed the continent from centuries of antagonism and war. It has inspired the removal of dictatorships and authoritarian regimes. It has enabled the economic reconstruction of its member states in a spirit of social justice, and is making us a pioneer of environmental sustainability. Each enlargement has enriched our cultures, enabled us to recognise each other, making us all part of the same challenging project. There is no doubt about it that the building of the European Union has been an historic achievement.
EUROPE IS NOW AT THE CROSSROADS
We Greens believe that Europe is our common home and our future. Yet, that future is under threat. If the EU’s achievements are to be preserved and enhanced, now is the time for a fundamental political reorientation and for a democratic renewal of the European Union. To safeguard our common future we want to change Europe to strengthen it. That is why we stand for more solidarity, sustainability and justice. If we give room to populism, nationalism or economic chauvinism, then no region, no country, no part of Europe will remain or become prosperous on its own. In a globalised world, it is only by acting together that we stand a chance of meeting the daunting social, environmental, economic and security challenges ahead. We need fair economic cooperation that respects our ecological responsibilities. We need solidarity within and between our nations. We need a strong democracy. We must live our values, upholding freedom and liberties domestically and internationally.
CRISIS CREATES ANXIETY AND ANGER – WE WANT TO BUILD HOPE AND SECURITY
Neo-liberal deregulation has created financial markets solely driven by short-term greed, resulting in the global financial crisis that is still with us today. The crisis has threatened or destroyed many social, democratic and economic achievements and as a consequence the concept of the European Union is now being challenged by a growing sense of frustration, fear, and even anger. The medicine of austerity that has been prescribed to countries in crisis for several years now has increased social division and injustice, jeopardised the well-being of many of our fellow citizens, undermined the capacity of our societies to prosper, and crucially, weakened democracy. Today, 25% of Europeans are at risk of poverty or social exclusion; 27 million are unemployed, including almost one in five young Europeans! The most fragile end up paying the heaviest price for the crisis. It is not surprising that this injustice is stirring fear and anger across our continent. Whilst we share that anger, we want to turn it into hope.
Our economic model is not sustainable. The environmental crisis persists. The continued failure to reach a global agreement at the climate conferences demonstrates how far we are from avoiding catastrophic climate change. Short-termism and the narrow interests of lobbyists continue to prevail. Europe is essential for building the more sustainable, democratic and equal society we are calling for. Think of it: taming the forces of financial markets and of global corporations, effectively fighting tax fraud and evasion, transforming Europe’s energy supply to combat runaway climate change. These are all examples of urgent actions that are beyond the capabilities of even the largest of our member states. We need cooperation within the EU to deal effectively with these issues.
The transformation we advocate must go hand in hand with a democratic re-foundation. We want a European Union that pioneers a more direct and participative democracy. Executive bodies such as the European Commission and Central Bank must be held accountable for their actions. The EU must be an effective multi-level democracy, respecting subsidiarity and making its diversity one if its best assets.
YOUR VOTE MATTERS – LET US FIGHT FOR A EUROPEAN ALTERNATIVE
We want you to join us in the fight for an economic, political and social transformation that will build future prosperity on the basis of sustainable development and a Green renaissance of our industry. With coherent and sustained policies, new investment and many Green jobs can be created, constituting good and decent work, equal pay, workers’ rights, increased economic mobility, regional development and better opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises or social businesses. We insist on a European energy policy which will mitigate climate change: Yes to renewables and energy efficiency; yes to phasing-out nuclear and coal and no to shale gas. All this is part of our Green New Deal.
Greens remain reliable advocates of environmental responsibility. Help us take a strong stance against those on the right or on the left and from the lobbies who want to block progress. We demand more sustainable agricultural policies and have played a strong role in reforming the EU´s fisheries policy. We advocate for more transparency and corporate responsibility. We have consistently promoted consumer and citizens’ rights. Environmentalism is also a social responsibility. If the environment is destroyed, so is the basis of our economy and well-being.
Greens mobilise under the banner of social justice against social exclusion, of sustainability against austerity. We want to live our lives as people for whom security and opportunity are not just tales from yesteryear. Here, without doubt, the EU must change direction! We want to fight against youth unemployment, against homelessness, against poverty and hopelessness. Where member states individually refuse or fail to deliver, we can overcome that together as European citizens. Let us build social Europe.
We see individual emancipation, freedom and liberties for all as very much under threat. Think of private and state-organised mass surveillance or the infringement of human rights of minorities like immigrants, the LGBT+ community or the Roma. We must not toleratediscrimination based on any ground, such as sex, race, colour, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language, religion or belief, political or any other opinion, membership of a national minority, property, birth, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, or any other pretext. Gender equality is a fundamental principle of the European Union. There is however a huge gap between the recognition of a right, the legal progress achieved and its implementation. Greens support a dual approach for promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment: gender main-streaming and clear and binding targets in order to achieve gender equality at all levels.
We need a digital bill of rights to guarantee our inherited liberties in the digital age. We helped defeat the’Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement’ (ACTA), that threatened our freedom. We defended the right to water against privatisation pressure. Such fights touch on Europe’s core values.
Greens want to re-vitalise European democracy which has been weakened by the strength of lobbies, by the narrow defence of their own interests by national governments, by the power given to technocrats without democratic oversight, and by the simplistic blame-game of populists. The European Parliament must be strengthened and given control over the policies which the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Central Bank pursue within the so-called troika. Citizens must be better heard and have a more active say through direct democracy. The EU must act wherever a common voice is needed, whilst not taking decisions further away from citizens. This includes pushing back against excessive lobbying. We also want more gender democracy: more women in Europe´s institutions and in the boardrooms of EU companies.
We should not shy away from sharing our sovereignty, where this is the only way of keeping it: as with the banking union, the financial transaction tax and the struggle for tax justice and against tax evasion and tax havens. The EU should pursue a policy of good neighbourliness on our borders and abroad. This includes sharing culture, having joint education projects, and means keeping the door on enlargement open. We promote global justice, fair trade, protecting human rights, civil conflict prevention and multilateral conflict solutions. Europe must be a fair haven for refugees, not a ‘Fortress Europe’. A Europe of global responsibility benefits the world and ourselves.
IT IS YOUR CHOICE
As the directly elected voice of the European citizens, the European Parliament is the joint lawmaker, together with national governments, on topics that influence your daily lives, from workplace safety to innovation and new jobs, from consumer protection to environmental policy, from food safety and animal protection to data privacy to gender equity. It also helps finance local and regional projects for sustainable development and social inclusion.Greens make a difference in the European Parliament. We want to continue this with greater strength. For this we need your support, your vote.
Help change Europe, vote Green!
Europe needs a Green New Deal
In the present crisis the European Union has not delivered on its promises to a great number of its citizens. And it has been everything but unified on how to change for the better. This is why Greens propose a new strategy.
We Europeans should unite our strengths, which is what sovereignty means, in order to shape our own future. Instead of the socially deaf and environmentally blind austerity, we propose three coherent avenues to sustainability: fighting unemployment, poverty and all forms of social injustice; transforming our economies with innovation and eco-efficient solutions to tackle climate change and environmental degradation; re-regulating the financial industry so it serves the real economy. We call this a European Green New Deal.
SOLIDARITY, SOLIDITY AND SUSTAINABILITY
We do not want the EU and its member states to rely on a level of debt that is excessive and burdens citizens and future generations. That includes bringing financial debt, be it public or private, back to sustainable levels and making sure it funds sustainable value-creating investments. This will require cases of restructuring public and private debt. Equally, we must address social debt: reducing unemployment, poverty and inequalities, improving health and education. This requires strong investment efforts. Last but not least, it requires addressing environmental debt: tackling climate change, the exhaustion of finite resources and the erosion of biodiversity. We need a living countryside, with sustainable agriculture and economically and socially vibrant rural areasas well as abundant fish stocks to support coastal communities.
By becoming world leaders in inventing and delivering solutions that make a good life possible for everyone while respecting the limits of our planet, we will find the key to a new economic dynamic for jobs and prosperity. We reject the so-called pact on competitiveness as this would entail wage cuts, reduction of social welfare schemes and privatisation of public goods. Fiscal sustainability must go hand-in-hand with equally strong social and environmental sustainability; and stronger shoulders must carry more of the burden. Austerity as imposed in the recent economic crisis takes us in the opposite direction.
LAYING THE FOUNDATION OF A SOCIAL EUROPE
Europe must be built on a foundation of social justice and yet, for an increasing number of people, social hardship has become the reality. European Greens believe in policies that tackle growing levels of inequality and are adamant that there should be no second-rate citizens in the EU. It is therefore essential that social impacts such as inequality and poverty are taken into account.
Widespread unemployment, particularly youth unemploymentand old age poverty are key elements of injustice. Political measures that promise relief, such as the European Youth Guarantee Scheme, will not be successful unless they are adequately funded and above all underpinned by a strong policy of job creation. Member states must continue to tackle child poverty through evidence-based preventative early intervention investment.The EU must put an end to social dumping, to zero-hours contracts, to low-pay jobs and unfair internships. Greens advocate fair and gradually improving minimum social standards in Europe in accordance with national conditions and labour market models – particularly in terms of job quality and security, of wages, of public health, and of pensions. We want to move towards better portability of social benefits through the introduction of a European social card, with high and binding privacy standards, which streamlines administrative processes across countries and which makes a genuine European citizenship more concrete.
We want the European Central Bank (ECB) to include macroeconomic and financial stability among its policy objectives, which also includes employment promotion. Moreover, to boost employment in Europe we need to work further to make the project of the single market fully operational, particularly in the area of free movement of workers and services.
We advocate the inclusion of a social progress clause in European law, which would emphasise the priority of building a social Europe. Social balance across Europe must address the threat of a brain-drain – especially of young people – away from crisis-stricken regions and the exploitation of migrant workers, while respecting the fundamental right to free movement. The Greens wish to see new instruments developed to mitigate larger differences in economic cycles including unemployment rates. We promote the emancipation of women in society and in the economy. ‘Equal payment for equal work’ must be a standard all over the EU, as well as equal representation of women in company boards. Having a family or sharing care should not be obstacles to a successful career for either men or women. To counter age discrimination, Greens oppose any age limits on access to public services and we stand for the implementation of reliable basic standards in the pension models of all member states. We consider that the rekindling of social Europe is closely related to a reinvigorated social dialogue where federations of employers and trade unions assume their responsibilities. Cross-border collective agreements for European transnational companies should be promoted.
BRINGING FINANCIAL INDUSTRY UNDER CONTROL
Five years after the outset of the financial crisis, our system remains dominated by banks that are too big or too interconnected to fail and therefore too dangerous. Bank bail-outs have cost billions to the European taxpayers; this should never happen again. We want to ensure a properly sized, diverse and resilient financial sector that serves society and helps mobilise sustainable investments in the real economy. We propose stringent rules for the separation of banking activities into those which are essential to society and those which are not. Greens have contributed strongly to ensuring that financial products and activities which produce no benefit for the real economy and have the potential to destabilise the financial system can be banned and taken off the European market. European authorities should make use of this possibility. Only financial products and activities which demonstrate benefits for society must be authorized. Our initiatives have outlawed naked speculation on sovereign debt; curbed bankers’ bonuses; forced banks to disclose activities in tax havens; submitted the European Central Bank´s banking supervision to more democratic accountability. Greens are proud of achievements in this domain.
Now we need to build on these successes. We want to ensure consumers receive good, independent advice on all financial services. Financial services legislation must not support further concentration of market power to the detriment of small sustainable banks.We advocate a European Banking Union, combining a strong common oversight of our banks, a common authority and fund to restructure failing banks and a common system of insurance for deposits up to €100,000 or equivalent. EU institutions must also contribute to tackling financial short-termism that limits the level of sustainability ambition in strategic investment decisions.
PUBLIC FINANCES: FAIR AND EFFECTIVE TAXATION
At the moment, the tax burden weighs disproportionally on low and medium income earners and on small and medium enterprises, while an estimated €1,000bn annually escapes through evasion and fraud. Our goal is to restore tax justice and efficiency. We want to reduce the tax burden on labour and move towards taxing pollution and waste. We will do our utmost to enact a financial transaction tax despite powerful lobbies opposed to this plan. As we want large corporations and wealthy individuals to contribute their fair share, we advocate a more common European approach to corporate and wealth taxation, including minimum rates. Last but not least, we advocate a common offensive against tax evasion, tax fraud and tax havens, starting by putting an end to bank secrecy. On the expenditure side, Greens explicitly fight wasteful and ecologically harmful spending such as fossil fuel subsidies or nuclear programmes such as the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER). Managing legacy public debt together, by setting up a debt redemption fund and gradually issuing common debt instruments (Eurobonds) under clearly defined and realistic common fiscal discipline rules are key moves in order to ensure the sustainability of public finances. In order to revive economies in crisis and preserve the monetary union, we advocate an increase in the EU budget, primarily funded by own resources, and the creation of financial solidarity instruments aimed at helping to finance the economic recovery.
RISE: RENAISSANCE OF INDUSTRY FOR A SUSTAINABLE EUROPE
We want to transform our European economy into a global champion of energy and resource efficiency, based on less energy-intensive technologies and renewable energies and on improving the way we manage, use, reuse, recycle, substitute and value resources. We want resource efficiency and eco-innovation to underpin policies and investment in all sectors of the economy. This Green offensive will create many new quality jobs for high-skilled as well as low-skilled workers in a variety of industries, and it will enhance working conditions and workers health. It will also enhance future economic resilience. Industry should not follow false leads like drilling for shale gas or converting food to fuel. Rather it should become a key partner in this innovation-oriented Green transformation by promoting eco-design rules, public procurement, state aid rules, private investment, small and medium sized enterprises and cooperatives, better funding for research, development and education, promotion of entrepreneurship, and in particular social entrepreneurship, good industrial relations, workplace democracy and fighting corporate vested interests. These must all be elements of our effort. We want to strengthen trade unions and the right of male and female workers to participate equally in decision-making processes. Trade policy should support a sustainable industrial renaissance in Europe and show respect and solidarity for our global partners. One project of particular relevance in this context will be creating a European Renewable Energy Community to help break our addiction to fossil fuels.
One Planet, Our Home!
GETTING SERIOUS ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE ECOLOGICAL CRISIS
Climate change and biodiversity loss pose threats to societies across the world. The ecological crisis has been overshadowed by the current economic crisis but the situation is becoming more and more acute, with the potential collapse of ecosystems putting our way of life at risk. In 2013 we consumed more of the Earth’s resources by August than can be renewed in a year.
There is no longer any doubt about mankind’s role in causing climate change and about the catastrophic consequences of inaction. The planet is close to tipping point and, without a radical change in energy consumption and production patterns, damaging climate change can become irreversible. However, there are solutions that will deliver massive environmental, economic, social and health benefits.
EUROPEAN CLIMATE AND ENERGY LAW
We want comprehensive EU climate and energy legislation consistent with our fair share of global efforts, built on legally binding emission targets and sanctions to ensure that climate goals will be met. This will create incentives towards sustainable economic transformation and averting dangerous climate change. The UN climate summit in Paris in 2015 (COP 21) must deliver a binding global agreement.The clock is ticking and the EU, together with member states, need to play a leading role in negotiations to secure binding commitments from all negotiating parties. This also means increasing its existing and outdated greenhouse gas emissions reduction target for 2020 from 20% to 30% from their 1990 levels, and setting a target to further reduce these emissions by at least 55% from their 1990 levels by 2030 in order to reach a carbon-neutral society by 2050.
Legally binding restrictions remain the most effective measure for decreasing pollution and polluting practices. The EU’s Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) must be radically reformed in order to become an effective tool. Unless that can be achieved, Greens will advocate national carbon floor pricing.Public institutions, businesses, and especially the financial sector, must be encouraged to divest from climate-damaging assets. Public subsidies for and investments in fossil fuels should be ended. We want to invest in European energy networks connecting renewable energy production in different parts of the continent, increasing energy security and cutting costs.
A coherent energy policy, based on energy savings, energy efficiency and renewable energy is the only way to achieve a nearly full renewables-based economy by 2050. Therefore, further national binding targets on energy efficiency and renewable energy are essential. Energy consumption must be reduced by 40% over the next 15 years and, at the same time, renewable energy, excluding agrofuels, must be boosted to ensure 45% of our energy consumption by 2030. This is not only essential for limiting global warming to below 2º°C above pre-industrial levels, it also makes economic sense, stimulating economic activity, creating jobs and reducing Europe’s dependence on costly imports of fuels.
Nuclear power is expensive and risky, increases the danger of spreading of nuclear weapons and has no part to play in Europe’s energy mix. We will continue to say ‘Nuclear? No thanks!’ and renew our engagement to phase-out nuclear energy in Europe while making sure this does not increase carbon emissions. We must shut down the most risky power plants immediately, end direct and indirect subsidies and insist that existing operators bear full liability for the damage and fall-out from nuclear accidents.
SUSTAINABILITY IS THE KEY
Sustainability must be put at the heart of every major economic decision. We want to see environmental and biodiversity protection and sustainable development given international priority. We propose the creation of a World Environment Organisation by combining and expanding the role of the different disjointed agencies that already exist within the United Nations. We cannot measure the quality of life only in coarse monetary terms: we need new indicators to complement and extend the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a measure of sustainable prosperity and well-being.
The diverse natural environment in Europe is beautiful and has a value beyond money. The Greens know that sustainable development means managing natural resources wisely so that our children and our children’s children will still have a viable planet to live on. We are living way beyond our means by consuming natural resources at a rate at which they cannot be renewed, and by polluting the air, soil and water with hazardous substances. We want to reduce our ecological footprint and resource consumption and ensure that goods are fit for re-use, repair and recycling in place of the designed-for-the-dump approach. The ultimate goal should be a closed-loop society, where non-hazardous waste from one sector becomes an input for another.
PRIORITY FOR GREEN TRANSPORT
Aviation and road transport are major sources of greenhouse gases, air pollution and noise. The current volume of fossil fuels used for the transport sector not only has a strongly negative impact on public health and the environment but also makes the EU dependent on energy imports and exposed to rising prices. We need to shift to safer and less environmentally-damaging modes like sustainable waterways, cycling, public-collective transport and rail. Special emphasis needs to be put on fair competition between different modes of transport. A European railway network should therefore close missing links on both regional and long-distance connections, in a way that urban and regional agglomerations can easily be reached. Existing cross-border rail connections must be prioritised over roads and aviation, especially for the movement of goods. Improving the energy efficiency of cars helps cut the fuel bills of European citizens and improves air quality. We also want to spur innovation by making electric bicycles, tramways and trains, electric cars, all bases on renewable sources, more attractive options.
PROTECT HEALTH AND SAFETY
Together with Civil Society Organizations, Greens have successfully driven the environmental and public health agendas in the European Parliament, shaping for instance safety rules for chemicals, pesticides and biocides. We support measures to reduce air pollution which is a major cause of premature death. We are pushing hard for better controls of electronic and hazardous waste, drug and pesticide residues discharged into our water systems and the use of nanotechnology in cosmetics, medicines, food and biocides, as well as for reduced exposure to substances that negatively affect our hormonal system.
We will continue our campaign against the dangerous and damaging practice of shale gas extraction, and the extraction of other unconventional fossil fuels. It is time to ban shale gas and therefore we call for an immediate ban on hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’). Fracking contaminates our water supplies and our environment with chemicals used in fracking fluids. Methane leakages during extraction of shale gas add to climate change. Moreover, the economic benefits have been grossly exaggerated, with production rates dropping rapidly after the first year of fracking, causing boom-and-bust economies in local communities. We will work to establish fracking-free regions throughout Europe, following the successful GMO-free model.
FOOD NOT FUEL
Fuel made from food crops is not a sustainable solution to the climate, energy and poverty crises. Feeding crops into cars, combined with financial speculation on essential food commodities, has forced up food prices, results in land grabbing and threatens the food security of millions in the developing world whilst having a negative climate impact. In particular, biodiversity-rich tropical rainforests are being slashed and burnt to make way for palm oil plantations intended for fuel and food ingredients.
The EU should not be further exacerbating these trends by promoting the use of agriculturalland for fuel. We have to abandon the use of food crops for fuel altogether. Instead we need to focus on more sustainable transport models, including better efficiency for cars and fuels from waste products.
BETTER FOOD, BETTER LIVES
Our food chain is malfunctioning. Industrial agriculture, based on pesticides, monocultures and an overuse of antibiotics, is thriving at the expense of our health, the environment and increased animal suffering. Recurring food scandals have made consumers justifiably insecure about what we are eating and where it comes from.
The Greens want to promote sustainable, healthy, tasty, diverseand ethical food, not standardised, tasteless food designed simply to look good on supermarket shelves. This means encouraging local production chains, organic farming and fair trade products from developing countries. We have succeeded in fighting several misleading practices, and in improving country of origin and nano-ingredients labelling. We will continue to demand improved transparency in food labelling. With Europe throwing away 90 million tons of food annually, we also want action to cut down on food waste. We have launched a food revolution, increasing public awareness, personal engagement and participative democracy in determining and improving food policies throughout Europe.
The European Parliament now has equal responsibility for the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy. It is time to make our farming climate-smart, sustainable, fair and ethically sound. We want resilient, biologically diverse, healthy and robust agro-ecosystems that not only adapt to climate change but mitigate it.
We want to see a system which allows for a much fairer distribution of public funds, including more support for small farmers, for organic farming, for conventional farmers who want to green their production methods and for local production and sale, which brings farmers closer to consumers. Farmers deserve a decent price for their products and corporate buyers should not be allowed to drive down farm-gate prices below sustainable levels.
We need to increase soil fertility, drastically cut the inputs of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, eliminate harmful export subsidies and move away from intensive industrial farming.We will continue our campaign for fair and unrestricted access to plant breeding material and against the patenting of plants and animals. We oppose the further privatisation of seeds and plant material in EU rules on seeds and we will keep fighting against the corporate control of the seed industry which makes farmers reliant on seed designed specifically for use with chemical fertilisers and pesticides, instead of allowing them to save and breed their own seed and adapt their crops to changing local conditions.
Biodiversity loss and excessive pesticide use has meant habitat destruction and led to a massive decline in bee and other insect populations, which disturbs natural pollination of many plants and crops. If we want healthy local fruit and vegetables, we must ‘give bees a chance’.
NO TO GMOs
We have been consistent in our opposition to genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) in food and farming and in our support for a GMO-free Europe. Greens will continue to lead the fight for GMO-free food and against cultivating GMOs here, together with a ban on importing GMOs for animal feedstuffs. We must insist on the right to make our own rules and impose mandatory GMO labelling. European consumers have the right to know what their food is composed of and where it comes from. Any research on GMOs should be limited to impact assessments including gene flow and cross-contamination.
MORE FISH IN THE SEAS
The Greens have played a lead role in pushing for a more sustainable Common Fisheries Policy. The policy of throwing unwanted fish back into the sea was a massive waste of food and income and will now be curtailed. Fish stocks will be better managed and the capacity of the fishing fleet better regulated. Consumers will now be able to see not only where their fish came from but how it was caught. Much remains to be done to implement these reforms and to ensure that loopholes are not exploited. We will continue to fight for better controls over intensive fish farming, which is highly polluting and for fairer treatment for small-scale, local fishing inside and outside Europe.
We are well known for our commitment to animal protection and Greens in the European Parliament are at the forefront of legal and political moves to provide ever increasing standards of well-being for all sentient beings. We urgently need to move away from factory farming, with its horrendous record on animal welfare and its intensive use of antibiotics.
We have led the fight against excessive animal testing and will continue to do so. We want to significantly reduce animal transport times and to end live animal exports. At the international level, the EU must be more energetic in combating wildlife trafficking, protecting marine mammals and defending its ban on seal products. We support a ban on fur farming.
Europe in the World
The EU has often been a reluctant player in global politics, reacting more than acting, and facing many difficulties in defining common positions. We want the EU to establish a value-driven common foreign policy and to play an important international role, to address the structural causes of poverty, promoting global justice and solidarity, peace, and the defence of global common goods. In today’s context of shifting global power, rising global inequalities and questioning of the universality of human rights, passivity is however not an option.
We want the EU to have a common voice on foreign and security policy. We have had positive signs in this direction on the issue of Kosovo-Serbia, and of Iran. The EU should pursue strong and fair partnerships with countries of the global south, aiming at reducing inequalities within and between societies through development cooperation. The EU and its partners need to work together to find common answers to problems like climate change, nuclear proliferation and regional conflicts around the world, as well as the unacceptable pillage of natural resources in many countries, particularly in the global south. That cooperation will not be credible if it is not democratic, accountable, transparent, and based on universal principles.
We want the EU to support a multilateral global governance, strengthening and reforming the role of the UN, the rule of law, and the responsibility to protect. We consider the adoption of the ‘Responsibility to Protect’ concept by the UN as progress, but the EU needs to make its contribution to further refine and tighten the rules for its application. Priority must always be given to civilian conflict management. Over the last years energy security has become one of the main priorities of EU foreign policy. Over-reliance on gas and oil makes the EU corruptible and is playing into the hands of those autocrats that control Europe’s hydrocarbonsupplies. We must cut off this dangerous and toxic link.
HUMAN RIGHTS AND POVERTY ERADICATION
Following Green pressure, an EU Special Representative for Human Rights was appointed to enhance the visibility of the European Union’s human rights policy. The EU institutions should mainstream human rights in their external policies, including trade. We must live up to our promises on human rights when we are asked to help with disaster relief. This includes a strong commitment to the basic humanitarian principles: humanity, impartiality, independence and neutrality. The EU must become more efficient, more vocal in the defence of the rule of law, freedom and human rights, including socio-economic and environmental rights within and outside its borders. In particular, the EU shall be at the forefront of setting-up legally binding rules on Corporate Social Responsibility.
The EU and the member states must come to terms with their complicity in secret detention and extra-judicial killings, including full accountability for the human rights violations committed in the CIA rendition programme. The ‘war on terror’ must be formally ended. All member states should ratify the amendments to the International Criminal Court’s statutes, which would allow the prosecution of state leaders who start wars of aggression.
The EU has not done enough to implement the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), which highlight the fight against poverty, hunger, environmental destruction and exclusion of women. We must work to support the strong new sustainability goals set by the Rio+20 Conference, which merged the MDG review and the Sustainable Development Goals process into a single comprehensive framework and gave a new set of goals to eradicate poverty and promote sustainable development after 2015. We urge member states to fulfil their commitments to spending 0.7% of GDP on development cooperation. Likewise, an overriding priority of the EU’s development agenda should be the fight against corruption, money laundering, tax havens, illicit flows of capital and harmful tax structures.
DOMESTIC SECURITY POLICY
There is a need to improve police and judicial cooperation, especially tackling terrorism, organized crime, including mafia associations, environmental and economic crime. In doing so the EU and its member states should however prevent the stigmatization of migrants and minorities. Checks and balances need to be strengthened so that law enforcement and intelligence services stick to the necessary and proportionate action required of them to keep European citizens safe.
WORKING FOR PEACE
This year we are commemorating the centenary of the beginning of the First World War. The EU was created to ensure peace after devastating wars, replacing confrontation with cooperation. Greens want the EU to actively promote non-violence and a culture of dialogue, mediation, reconciliation and cooperation. The EU has played and can continue to play an important role in conflict prevention, civil conflict-resolution, disarmament, arms control, peace-building and peacekeeping. The EU should also strengthen its humanitarian role, for example when it comes to the deployment of temporary hospitals to help alleviating civilian suffering in situations like civil wars. The concept of human security must lie at the heart of the EU’s external action. We also believe that the EU should help the UN to be empowered with more efficient tools of de-escalation and – if needed – peace enforcement. It is now important to strengthen parliamentary control of EU military operations by giving the European Parliament a role in decision-making.
Thanks to the Greens, a much larger part of the EU budget is to be spend on conflict prevention through the Instrument for Stability and Peace. We have also supported the idea of an EU Peace Corps and the creation of an EU Institute for Peace. We are opposed to financing military research from the EU budget, such as for the development of European drones, and to Europe being a nuclear warehouse.
We will continue to fight for nuclear disarmament both globally and in Europe and for concrete steps towards a Middle East Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone. Greens also want to ban weapons such as depleted uranium ammunition and white phosphorus. Investments by European banks, pension funds, insurance companies and others in companies which produce land-mines and cluster munitions have to be banned too. European trade in arms, including surveillance technology, is exporting insecurity to regions such as the Middle and Far East. Greens want to cut down on this trade and and prevent arms exports that could be used against freedom movements and civil protests.
Extra-territorial targeted killings outside of armed conflict by drones or other means have broken the barriers of the established rule of law. We want to see the EU engage with other UN members to achieve a worldwide ban on such acts as crimes under international humanitarian and human rights law, and to stop the use of fully automated lethal weapons systems.
FIGHTING FOR FAIR ASYLUM AND MIGRATION POLICIES
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that in 2013 there were almost 40,000,000 displaced persons in the world, of which almost half are refugees outside their own country.The UN indicates that 200,000 of these refugees urgently need to be resettled every year, but only half of them find a new home; more worryingly only 4,500 are resettled in the European Union – compared to 80,000 per year in the USA. Thousands of people die on Europe’s external borders every year, because of ever stricter controls and because the means of legal entry into the EU remain limited. The EU has a duty to ensure that these people can seek protection.We need more efforts to establish an asylum system worth its name.The European Border Agency FRONTEX is the wrong agent for that and member states are violating human rights in their border policies. We need greater efforts by the EU as well as member states and more coordination for ‘rescues at sea’, and we need legal and safe ways for entry, for example with humanitarian visas. We have to get rid of the current rules (the ‘Dublin Regulation’) that force refugees to apply for asylum only in the country where they first entered the EU. We should, in our foreign relations as well as our trade and development policies, address the issues which force people to migrate. Greens have been successful in the fight for the creation of an EU Joint Resettlement Programme as well as for funds for emergency resettlement of refugees facing a humanitarian crisis. EU member states must do everything they can to make full use of these fundsand show solidarity, not only amongst each other but also with troubled neighbouring regions.
TAKING THE LEAD ON CLIMATE CHANGE
For many years the European Union has played a positive role in international climate negotiations, but recently, this role has dwindled. It is one of our prime Green foreign policy concerns to make Europe once again a leading actor in the fight against climate change and environmental degradation. Climate change already causes damage and suffering all over the world. Many people have to leave their land and become climate refugees, because of desertification, soil erosion, heavy rainfallor rising sea levels. We want to see the concept of climate refugees incorporated into international law. The EU must therefore play a leading role on climate migration in international institutions and at home. It must enhance its support for climate mitigation and adaptation. Climate financing plays a key role for developing countries and Greens will hold the EU to its promises and its responsibility. Such financingmust be new and additional to existing development aid. We also advocate mainstreaming environment into development projects to promote an effective climate change mitigation and adaption strategy.
PURSUING A COHERENT ENLARGEMENT AND NEIGHBOURHOOD POLICY
Greens stick to the policy of EU enlargement. The EU should be open to new members, provided they fulfil the membership criteria. We support an EU accession perspective for all the countries of the Western Balkans. Greens want to speed up fair and credible negotiations with Turkey. The European Union has to play a vital role in its immediate neighbourhood in order to strengthen stability and democracy. We want to strengthen the Eastern Partnership and specifically our engagement with countries like Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova. This means asserting itself as a principled and honest partner with our neighbours.
The EU should work with civil society, granting asylum and support to defenders of freedom and democracy and granting scholarships to the youth of our neighbouring countries. We want the EU to focus on the transformation of the neighbourhood in the Mediterranean and in Eastern Europe and to effectively support reform efforts in these countries. Moreover, the EU should strengthen its partnerships with other existing regional organisations from Africa, Asia and Latin America.
FOR A FAIR TRADE POLICY
In trade the EU is a global power. The European Parliament plays an important role in Europe´s trade relations, because it can veto trade agreements, as it did for ACTA.But we need more transparency during trade negotiations and effective cooperation between the European and national parliaments on these issues. Greens are in favour of a multilateral trade order, buttrade should support, not hinder, the development of poorer countries and the transition to a green, social, equitable and democratic development model. This includes opening EU markets for less developed countries, substantial reform of the WTO to make it more development-friendly and subordinating trade rules to human rights, social and environmental rights. Trade must be fair and it should not undermine the EU’s social model.
Presently, many bilateral EU trade deals are being negotiated, in particular the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the United States. Greens contest the lack of transparency of these negotiations, where important democratic choices are on the agenda. Greens not only defend our environmental, health, agriculture and food, consumer and labour standards, public interests and data protection, but also the possibility of strengthening them to implement the Green New Deal. We oppose biotech and toxic financial products marketed in the US being automatically approved for the EU. We draw clear red lines against any weakening of EU legislation. We refuse, through the inclusion of international investor-state dispute settlement in trade agreements, to allow private companies to sue democratically elected governments in order to protect corporate interests against social or environmental reforms. We mobilize against any trade agreement that does not honour these principles and therefore we oppose TTIP in its current form.
For a more vigorous democracy
More democracy, not less, is the answer to the crisis. Structures such as the troika are fundamentally undemocratic. We believe that a shift towards more citizens’ participation, accountability and transparency is crucial to gain legitimacy for future European cooperation. This means that we Greens are working for increased transparency in the entire decision-making process from the Commission via other EU-institutions to member state governments. Even more importantly, we work for the right of citizens to determine the future of the Union by increasing their choices throughout the law-making process.
WITHOUT GENDER EQUALITY THERE IS NO DEMOCRACY
Gender democracy means that women are part of the public life of our societies and take decisions in institutions and companies on an equal footing with men. The Greens believe that the EU’s response must be to mainstream gender issues at all policy levels. We support the Commission in its work on legally binding quotas for women in corporate boardrooms. However, at the present pace it would take more than 50 years until 40% of all boardroom members of European companies are women. Therefore, we demand a quota to achieve this objective by 2020.
To reach equality, we believe that the EU should adopt a more comprehensive policy approach against gender-based violence, including EU legislation in the form of a directive proposing measures to address violence against women based on policy, prevention, protection, prosecution, provision and partnership. The EU Convention on Human Rights requires all EU member states to define rape and sexual violence against women within marriage and intimate informal relationships as a crime.
CITIZENS AS EUROPEAN DECISION MAKERS
We want to strengthen the opportunities for EU’s citizens to influence decisions. We want to work for more participatory democracy. Greens helped introduce the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) which allows for EU citizens to call on the European Commission to make legislative proposals. Now it is time to take the next step. We want to broaden the scope of the ECI and make it more efficient and citizen-friendly. We also want to create a legal basis for EU-wide referenda.
Where citizens are being deprived of their rights in an EU member state without remedy from that country’s judicial system they should have the possibility of taking collective legal action in the EU’s Court of Justice. We will continue to fight hard against the well-established and well-funded lobbies like the agro-chemical industry or the giant seed companies. We are calling for food democracy, where citizens reclaim control over what they eat and can create fair and sustainable food production and supply systems.
STRENGTHEN THE ROLE OF PARLIAMENTS
By choosing the Members of the European Parliament, citizens have a say on how crucial issues of our times will be tackled, from climate change to bank regulation, from the policy on refugees to youth unemployment. We want to give the European Parliament a stronger role, particularly in EU crisis management and economic policy making. It should be empowered to co-decide on the priorities of economic policy coordination. We want to lower the voting age to 16 for elections to the European Parliament and to additionally introduce pan-European lists with transnational candidates.
The growing influence handed to the European Parliament by the Lisbon Treaty must be exercised responsibly and not be undermined by lobby interests. More transparency and accountability is needed in the Council of Ministers of the European Union, for example by publishing all voting results.
To get a broader and more open debate it is necessary that the national parliaments take more responsibility by imposing better control over their governments’ actions in European affairs. We also want to strengthen the national parliaments’ opportunities to react when the EU exceeds its authority by not following the rules on subsidiarity. National parliaments should also have more avenues of cooperation with the European Parliament. At all levels of governance, from the local to the regional, the national to the European, we call for strengthened interactions and synergies in order to better articulate European policies and their implementation within regional and territorial realities.
FIGHT CORRUPTION AND FRAUD
The EU needs a stronger anti-corruption policy and more effective instruments against organized crime to strengthen democracy and the rule of law, and also to strengthen the European economy. Corrupt behaviour by EU officials or parliamentarians in their relations with lobbyists must be met with very strong reactions. Big business still influences the Commission too much. Almost 80% of all stakeholders appointed by the Commission represent corporate interests, despite a commitment to change. Greens also fight to tackle the problem of “revolving doors” where top bureaucrats and politicians in European institutions join private organizations which they were previously responsible for regulating. We want to safeguard democracy from corruption by introducing robust regulation and transparency for the financing of political parties, candidates and election campaigns. We want to provide the Court of Justice of the EU and the European Court of Auditors with stronger tools to control the way in which EU resources are spent and to act against corruption both within the EU institutions and in the case of serious problems within the member states.
MORE OWN RESOURCES FOR THE EU BUDGET
The EU budget must be increased and must principally be based on a system of own resources, for instance a carbon and/or energy tax, to reduce the dependency on national contributions. Intergovernmental negotiations too often overlook the common interest as was the case in the 2013 budget negotiations which failed to come up with effective policies for fighting the crisis. Greens have been fighting a tough fight for greater accountability and transparency in budget-making. Here we are also suggesting more participation: citizens could be given the right to sign up for pilot-project initiatives to be approved by the budget committee of the European Parliament.
A DIGITAL BILL OF RIGHTS
The Greens in the European Parliament are at the forefront of the fight for digital rights. We helped stop the Anti-Counterfeit Trade Agreement (ACTA) and we are fighting for strong protection of personal data, for the right to privacy and for strict net neutrality. Now it is time to defend and protect both European citizens and the internet from pervasive corporate and governmental surveillance and to safeguard fundamental rights in the digital age.Personal data belongs to individual citizens, not to companies or governments. Privacy must be respected. The data retention law, which obliges telecom providers to store data about whom citizens communicate with, is a serious mistake and must be abolished. Governments have to abide by their own laws. Whilst national security is important, personal freedoms and liberties must not be overridden. Governments must ensure that national security agencies work for all citizens to secure freedom and liberty for everybody.
UPHOLD THE RULE OF LAW
The European Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights. Greens do not compromise on human rights. Pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men must prevail. There is a great lack of women in EU institutions and in many member statestoo many people are being discriminated against under all kinds of excuses. Greens will push for effective anti-discrimination policies to overcome such injustice and are long-standing advocates of the extension of the anti discrimination directives to become a fully-fledged Equalities Directive.
For our democratic rights to be upheld and recognized, we need to keep the integrity of the rule of law both at the EU and national level. The EU lacks tools for effective monitoring and sanctions when there are violations of our values in the member states. This is why Greens have been pioneers in demanding the creation of a Copenhagen Commission in accordance with the EU treaties and the European Convention on Human Rights to make sure that the democratic demands that are put upon candidate countries when applying for EU accession are not followed by backsliding into authoritarianism and cronyism once a member state has joined the EU.
The impressive list of guarantees and protections from the Charter of Fundamental Rights should be realized better in practice in our everyday life. Sexual and reproductive rights are essential elements of human dignity. We Greens defend the right of self-determination over our own bodies[[Comhaontas Glas was unable to agree to, and Alternattiva Demokratika registered their objection to the following: “Sexual and reproductive rights are essential elements of human dignity. We Greens defend the right of self-determination over our own bodies.”]].
A GREEN DEMOCRATIC REFORM OF THE EU
Democracy is never finished or complete. Climate change and globalization are two challenges that have to be met by improved common decision-making. European Greens are convinced, that the current EU institutional setting is not up to the problems the EU faces. The development of the Eurozone and the banking union means we need adequate democratic reforms which strengthen the legitimacy, transparency and efficiency of European decision-making in these areas too. Greens call for a reshaping of the competences among the different levels of governance in the EU. This means, for example, that the EU should have some competences concerning tax policy and social policy where the European Parliament would be co-legislator.
Our demands for more democracy, more transparency and more accountability at the EU level require clear changes in the functioning of the EU. The European Parliament should have the right to initiate legislation. Europe cannot just wait for the EU heads of state and government to take limited initiatives that will only lead to more technocratic control. A most simple example: the European Parliament wants to have a say about its seat and to stop the travelling circus between Brussels and Strasbourg. Greens share that demand, as do most European citizens. The European Parliament needs more legislative co-decision powers while national veto-rights should be diminished. Some decisions must, on the other hand, be taken at levels much closer to the citizens.
The mandate and responsibilities of European institutions representing the regional and local authorities and socio-economic actors and civil society should be strengthened. Therefore we want a new democratic convention, with strong parliamentary and civil society participation with fully transparent procedures, or a constituent assembly, to determine the future of European integration.European citizens should indeed be able to decide on the future of Europe – and have a final say through an EU-wide referendum.