Being part of the EU helps us protect our environment. Pollution and environmental harm don't respect national borders - so we need cross-border solutions to the challenges we face.
Our beaches are cleaner, our air less polluted and our wildlife is far safer because of EU rules.
Some of our dirtiest power stations have been closed thanks to EU laws.
Europe-wide rules provide protected areas for wildlife that result in the creation of natural flood defences and bring benefits to Scotland such as reducing CO2 emissions and helping pollination, as well as providing food, water and materials useful to us.
The UK Government has dropped some heavy hints about what would happen to our environmental rules if we quit the EU. Ministers have tried their best to water down air pollution rules, the Chancellor has said that EU nature laws place 'ridiculous costs' on British firms and, most worryingly of all, the UK Government has been vigorously stripping away support for clean energy and renewable technology in the UK.
Fighting climate change
Climate change, more than almost any other issue, demonstrates the need for cross continental and global co-operation. No one country can solve this great challenge alone. The Scottish Green Party has led the way in policies to protect the climate and argued for decades that we need to build a low carbon, renewably powered economy.
Today, the renewables revolution, scoffed at two decades ago, is happening all across Europe – often because of direct policies of Green parties. But Scottish Greens have always recognised that we can’t meet the challenge of climate change by merely adding some wind turbines to our current economy.
If we join forces with other countries, strengthening the EU-wide rules on carbon emissions that are already in place, then we have a chance of keeping future generations safe.
Europe is also a powerful force for change across the world in fighting climate change together. The European Union played a key role in negotiating the Kyoto Protocol and works with developing countries to ensure the concept of sustainable development is at their heart of their policies.
Being a member of the EU means being part of a cross-continental market. It is, therefore, crucial that workers’ rights also span borders.
From protection for part time and temporary workers to protection from discrimination; from rights for working parents to the right to paid holidays and a regular lunch break; from health and safety to promoting employee voice; the EU has been fundamental in making the Scottish workplace a fairer and more equal place.
Benefits that our EU membership brings to full-time workers include:
- 28 days of paid annual leave
- 11 hours’ daily break
- protection from dismissal under a change of employer
- health and safety protection
Rules agreed at European level ensure that part-time workers receive the same hourly pay as full- time workers, and the same leave entitlements. Temporary workers also benefit, with better access to pension schemes and increased job security.
You only have to look at the Tories approach to workers’ rights to see the clear risk of leaving the EU. European rules are a safeguard against the Tories’ love of deregulation and their attacks on trade unionists.
Here’s 5 ways the EU is good for workers.
Freedom of Movement
Scottish Greens celebrate freedom of movement. Our lives are enriched when we share them with people from other countries, and our horizons are broadened because we can travel, work and study easily across the EU.
Students from Scotland benefit from being able to study abroad and Scotland benefits from the thousands of EU students who come and study here.
Scots can retire in other European countries like Spain. There are an estimated 5.5 million UK citizens who live abroad permanently, of which 2.2 million live in the EU including 1 million in Spain.
The ability to cross borders freely and live, work, study and retire is one we must cherish.
Our economy is stronger because of people coming here to work and contribute. In fact, 11% of all NHS staff and 26% of doctors were born outside of the UK. Our public services rely on people coming to Scotland and building a life here.
Leaving the EU wouldn’t just risk our diverse, richly multicultural society here in Britain. It would could also stop us from being able to easily study at great European universities, work or retire abroad.
Greens believe that it’s time to change the debate on migration and the freedom of movement we all benefit from across Europe. We must not succumb to racist and xenophobic attitudes about people from other countries who choose to build a life in the Scotland. We must instead celebrate our common humanity and open our minds. Voting to remain a part of the EU is a crucial way of doing that.
Economy and Jobs
Being part of the EU gives Scottish businesses access to a market of 500 million consumers across the continent. Whether it’s selling Scottish food and drink, collaborating with European countries on manufacturing or buying goods and services at affordable prices, Scotland benefits from trade deals with the rest of Europe.
We also know that all the trade, investment, jobs and lower prices that come from our economic partnership with Europe is worth £3000 per year to every household.
A range of studies by independent experts as well as the Government show that between three and four million jobs are linked directly and indirectly to our trade with the EU. Given that trading with the EU would be harder if we left, and would take many years to negotiate, these jobs would be vulnerable.
As members of the EU, Scotland benefits from coordinated action to fight inequality. At work, we benefit from equal pay, paid parental leave and protection from dismissal for being pregnant amongst many other workplace rules brought in by the EU.
Although the UK introduced the Equal Pay Act which banned “any less favourable treatment between men and women in terms of pay and conditions of employment”, it was the EU that made the principle of equal pay for work of equal value law in the UK and across Europe
Being a member of the EU also strengthens our laws on sexual harassment, gender-based violence and exploitation. Around 1 in 3 women in the EU has experienced physical or sexual violence and over half have experienced sexual harassment. Cooperation between EU countries has seen new action to give extended rights to victims of sexual abuse and coordinated efforts to end female genital mutilation.
That coordination doesn’t stop at fighting sexual violence and abuse. For example, right now scientists from 15 EU countries including the UK are devising a test to determine the risk of developing breast, cervical and other cancers affecting women. Shared funding and policy stops duplication and means that women’s health is better protected.
Whilst there are no explicit laws relating to gender identity and expression, there is work being done to change this, including creating new rules to improve the rights of people who identify as transgender, non-binary, or intersex.
Being a member of the EU means working together to create a better world for women and girls and means we can be part of European efforts to end discrimination on the grounds of gender.
Education and opportunity
Being part of the EU allows Scottish students to broaden their horizons by living, working and studying abroad. Last year, over 15,000 students in the UK studied in another EU country as part of the Erasmus programme.
The EU provides billions in funding for research at universities in the UK, opening up opportunities for further study for students here as well as funding that allows us to attract talented people from across Europe to contribute to research and innovation here.
Our membership of the EU helps Scottish universities to thrive - leaving would do huge damage to the opportunities and prospects of Scottish students.
Checks on Corporate Power
In a globally connected world where there are corporations that have more money than some countries, we need to work with other nations across Europe to regulate big business. When money doesn’t recognise borders, passing and enforcing laws on tax and the movement of money and property is something we have to do at an EU level.
After the financial crisis of 2008 it has become increasingly clear that we need international rules to curb the excess of finance firms in the City of London and in Edinburgh.
The EU has brought in a cap on bankers’ bonuses and stricter rules on credit ratings agencies. The EU has also favours a robin hood tax - which the UK refuses to sign up to.
If we leave the EU the Tories would unleash a wave of deregulation on the Financial Sector - risking another financial crash in doing so.
Keeping the peace
The EU has been crucial to bringing about a lasting peace in Europe after the bloodshed of the Second World War. The UK has a particularly important role in this peace mission. We are necessary to the effective management and conflicts of our continent; we cannot duck our responsibilities.
The EU was established “to create the basis for community among peoples long divided by bloody conflicts”. Today, In conflicts are settled over a negotiating table or a debating chamber instead of a battlefield.
It’s not just peace between European nations that is to be celebrated, but the role of the EU in securing peace in other nations. In 2012 the European Union was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its advancement of peace, reconciliation, democracy and human rights for over sixty years in Europe.
Farming and fishing
Support for farmers and rules governing how we manage fishing in shared waters make up two crucial aspects of EU membership for the UK.
Almost 40% of the EU’s total budget is spent on the Common Agricultural Policy or CAP. The policy supports farmers and is a vital part of rural development. Farmers receive subsidies providing they comply with environmental and food safety rules and are can get grants to improve the way they farm with new machines or buildings or different livestock. The subsidy system also encourages more young people into farming - a crucial support structure as the average age of farmers Scotland is 58.
EU farming rules also govern food labelling and mean that regional foods like Stornoway Black Pudding are protected from other producers using the name. These rules make it easy to see where food comes from and mean that producers are protected.
Finally, CAP strengthens our rural communities in Scotland by providing funding for rural economies and their development. Across Europe, this fund supports rural communities to thrive in an increasingly urban world.
The Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) is a set of rules for managing European fishing fleets and for conserving fish stock. It aims to restore depleted fish stocks by 2020 and to ensure that the industry and our shared seas are sustainable. The European Union is phasing in a ban on discarded fish, meaning that all fish caught must be brought ashore.
The EU has improved conditions for animals where national governments have failed to act, and its influence is felt beyond European borders. The EU brought in a blanket ban on animal testing for cosmetics; banned the import of products newly tested on animals and suspended the use of toxic bee-killing pesticides.
The EU has also brought in bans on cruel factory farming practices. The EU prohibited the use of sow stalls and barren battery cages for hens whilst the UK Government has already tried to weaken laws on laboratory animals.
EU rules mean that everyone across Europe has certain rights, guaranteed in law, when they buy goods or services. We also enjoy protection from harm through EU-wide laws that govern product safety and food safety. These rights and rules are some of the strongest in the world.
Whether buying cheese from France or beer from Germany, Scottish consumers are protected in EU law with standards of food hygiene and animal welfare have to be met and rules that mean suppliers have to label products clearly to show where they come from and what is in them.
Consumers in Scotland and across Europe have a two year guarantee on goods they buy and recent changes mean that everyone now has 14 days to cancel a contract when they buy something, whether it’s a credit card, something bought online or a new energy contract.
When shopping online, EU rules mean no more hidden charges or pre-ticked boxes for things like extras on airplanes. For Scots travelling abroad, EU rights mean that if you get sick on holiday, you are entitled to emergency healthcare with the same rights as residents of that country. Similarly, if your journey is delayed or cancelled, you are entitled to compensation under EU law.