The future of Europe is at stake in this election
On the 22nd of May electors will vote in the European elections. With over 50 per cent of UK legislation emanating from the European Union, these elections are very important for businesses and individuals in the UK.
In the weeks running up to these important elections, Endeavour Public Affairs will be publishing a series of exclusive articles from the leaders of the UK groups setting out their vision for the future of the EU and what specific policies they and their colleagues are fighting for in the European elections. The second article is from Jean Lambert MEP, Green Party MEP for London.
To follow Jean Lambert on Twitter – @GreenJeanMEP
The future shape of Europe is at stake in the forthcoming elections. Many people feel far removed from what goes on in Brussels, but the European Parliament really matters – and the MEPs with their fingers on the voting buttons will make a real difference to the direction of travel for the continent. They will decide whether we go forward in protecting our rights, cutting pollution, and building sustainable jobs of the future – or whether we crawl back to the bad old days of dirty energy, inequality, an economy based on debt, and a rising tide of xenophobia.
As a global movement, rooted locally, Greens believe in citizens being given greater democratic control, but also in solidarity and strong co-operation across Europe on the issues that know no borders. The European Parliament, as the only directly elected institution, is central to EU politics, and as part of the fourth biggest group Greens have been a positive force for change. From capping bankers’ bonuses to fighting fish discards, to bringing in a youth guarantee scheme which improves the job prospects for young people, Greens are already making a real difference across all policy areas.
But there are big challenges ahead, and major decisions will be taken over the next few years which will affect our rights, our public services, our jobs – and the protection of the land, sea, and air that we share. The free trade agreement (TTIP) currently being negotiated with the USA could see a wholesale erosion of hard-won standards, and could threaten the future public ownership of our public services like the NHS. We need Green MEPs to battle the self-interests of the big corporations and make sure we move in the right direction – whether it is setting robust climate change targets, stopping the dash for shale gas, or protecting our rights and freedoms.
Perhaps one of the most positive influences of the European Parliament has been on human rights. Our shared parliament has helped create a fairer society for all, both within Europe and around the globe. The European Union was built on the values of respect for human dignity, liberty, democracy, and equality – and this is something to be built on, not destroyed.
But these values are at stake in this election. After years of austerity, we have seen some politicians trying to scapegoat immigrants and non EU citizens for the deepening poverty and inequality the country faces. This is not the fault of Europe, or our international communities, but caused by corporate greed, reckless bankers, and damaging policy decisions which are designed to protect the privileged few. The xenophobic rhetoric which was once the reserve of the far right is becoming almost mainstream, and this is deeply worrying.
There is a danger that far-right parties will gain ground across Europe. These are politicians who pretend to speak for everyday people, but who see workers’ rights and fair pay as a luxury to be dismantled in the interests of corporate power. They deny the reality of climate change, and would destroy our planet for short term profit. They would remove our right to free movement – something enjoyed by the 2.5 million UK citizens living elsewhere in Europe, as well as the many citizens from other nations who choose to live here. Their rhetoric stirs up distrust and racism, closes borders, and cuts choices – we will all lose out if they gain.
Europe’s motto is unity in diversity – we need to hold on to the values it espouses and back a positive vision for the future of Europe, with respect and dignity at its heart.
Published: Tuesday 29 April 2014
© Copyright of Endeavour Public Affairs 2014
Photograph: © Copyright of Jean Lambert MEP
The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone.