Monday, 19 May 2014

"Change Europe, Vote Green" - the European Greens' Manifesto

During last week's debate, Ska Keller spoke a lot about the importance of Green jobs and renewable energy. It's a strong brand for the Greens - I'm sure that most people identify the Greens with those phrases by now - but little was said on how they want to bring this about. The European Greens have released a common manifesto, so let's take a look at what they're proposing.

The European Greens have seized on the language of debt reduction in their manifesto in an interesting way: they talk about the need not just to reduce financial debt (noting the the restructuring of public and private debt is needed in some cases), but also social debt (unemployment) and environmental debt. The Europarty says that it wants the ECB to focus on macroeconomic and financial stability and employment among its policy objectives (as well as its current policy of price stability), and it wants instruments (it doesn't specify which) to stem the brain-drain from crisis-hit economies.

The Greens want a debt redemption fund and eventually Eurobonds for the Eurozone as a way of solving the crisis and support a common minimum approach to corporate and wealth taxes in the EU, arguing that the tax burden falls too much on low and medium earners. It also supports "own resources" for the EU (i.e. the EU directly raises the money that funds it rather than depending on Member State contributions - this would be the opposite of AECR's position, for example).

On renewable energy, the Greens want several measures in the areas of state aid rules, public procurement rules, education, support for social entrepreneurs, among others in its approach. I'm not clear on what these measures are, but presumably laxer rules on state aid and public procurement in favour of renewable energy projects along with support for people setting up Green businesses. A new European Renewable Energy Community is proposed to promote renewable energy in the EU. Nuclear energy is ruled out as an expensive and risky form of energy and they are opposed to fracking. The Greens want a carbon emissions to be cut by 55% of 1990 levels by 2030 and the radical reform of the carbon emissions trading scheme. Without reform of the trading scheme, the Greens say that they would advocate a national carbon pricing floor.

The European Greens are against bio fuels (agricultural land should not be used to produce fuel as this raises food prices), and want to see small and organic farmers promoted under the Common Agricultural Policy, They are also against the patenting of seed and animal material and want better food labeling. The Greens oppose genetically modified organisms and want better protection for livestock by reducing animal transport times.

On immigration and asylum, the Greens want to scrap the Dublin Regulation (which states that people can only apply for asylum in the first EU country they reach) and set up an EU Joint Resettlement Programme to aid in the resettlement of refugees. They also want more coordination on "rescues at sea" since so many people die at sea trying to reach Europe.

The Greens oppose the EU-US Trade Agreement in its current form, criticising the way it was negotiated and voicing concerns that certain financial products and biotech products would be automatically allowed under the agreement. They also oppose investor-state dispute settlement in trade agreements like the one with the US, which could be used by investors to undermine environmental and social standards in the EU.

Democracy and anti-corruption is also a topic in the Greens' manifesto. They want the voting age lowered to 16 for European elections and transnational lists for those elections. The European Parliament should have a say over the EU's coordinated economic policy and the Court of Justice and Court of Auditors should be given more powers in fighting corruption in the EU. The European Parliament should be able to decide on its seat (currently it travels between Brussels and Strasbourg under the Treaty rules), and there should eventually be EU-wide referendums.

That should give you a taste of what the European Greens want to achieve (read the manifesto itself for more detail). If you want to support more radical environmental standards and goals, have concerns over the details of free trade treaties and how refugees and immigration is being handled by the EU, and want the EU to take more decisions over its own financing, the Greens might be for you.

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