Strengthen rules on environment and climate change
About 80% of UK environmental laws come from the EU. Laws governing climate, energy and environment policy mean that all EU countries, including the UK have to reach minimum levels on emissions reductions, pollution, renewables. But our climate is changing right now and it’s changing fast. Greens believe that we need to act much faster to fight climate and that we need to take stronger action across Europe. For example, the EU could make it the law that every country has to achieve 100% renewable energy by at least 2050.
Scotland should be showing leadership in mitigating climate change, by pushing for the EU to match Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets with reductions of at least 42%, without offsetting, by 2020.
Within Europe we can influence trade deals and discussions between countries and call for for bans on the sale of fuels which originate from the most polluting sources, like Canadian Tar Sands.
Reform the EU single market
The EU single market means that countries in the EU can trade with each other in a way that’s good for businesses and consumers alike. But some of the rules mean that countries like the UK can’t favour home grown businesses over those from other EU countries. Scottish Greens want to scrap EU procurement and state aid rules that prevent countries from favouring local enterprise or supporting emerging industries.
We want to see a Europe that protects and fosters small scale economic activity, rather than bowing to global corporations. At the moment, state aid rules from Europe stop the Scottish Government from investing directly in renewable energy companies in Scotland, despite the urgent need to shift away from fossil fuels and nuclear power.
If we’re to tackle climate change, fight inequality and build a sustainable economy across Europe, we must allow countries to support local innovation.
Europe is still struggling to escape a crisis caused by the rich. Yet across the continent, those who caused the crash in 2008 punish the rest of us by cutting public spending and privatising public services. The place that has borne the brunt of austerity more than anywhere is Greece. Across Europe we must stand with the people of Greece in their fight against austerity. Syriza - the left wing coalition in government in Greece which includes the Greens - has urged the UK to vote to stay in the EU and support them in their struggle against the European Central Bank. If we walk away, we ignore that plea.
Beyond the borders of Greece, austerity is hurting women, disabled people and a whole generation of young people. Today, even the International Monetary Fund - an organisation that has long supported slashing government spending - says that austerity does more harm than good.
In the European Parliament, our fellow Greens opposed the recent cuts to the EU’s budget and identified €50billion being spent on environmentally damaging infrastructure and vanity projects that could be reallocated to education, research and innovation, development aid, social inclusion and youth policies. It’s this practical approach, alongside a firm political opposition to austerity that will lead to the end of this failed economic policy. But we must be in Europe to change it.
Fight 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.
Greens want to see stronger action to regulate the financial sector and to clamp down on tax evasion and avoidance. The EU has already taken action to strengthen banking regulation and to
cap bankers' bonuses - something that George Osborne and the Tories strongly opposed here in the UK. Greens MEPs have led this agenda in the European Parliament and want it to go further.
We need an EU wide financial transaction tax to curb the dangerous types of activities that led to the financial crash and to raise revenue from the financial sector.
Beyond the financial sector, we need a legally binding EU lobby register, an end to the 'revolving door' between politics and business and we need full disclosure of trade negotiations.
If we stay in Europe, we can be part of the movement that is already making progress in fighting corporate power. Together, we can clamp down on back room deals and offshore tax havens, making business fairer and strengthening democracy across Europe.
No to TTIP
We are absolutely opposed to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and similar deals that seek to expand corporate power and harm our public services. Trade deals like TTIP force the countries involved to loosen the rules on things like food safety, consumer rights and the treatment of animals. Many also include what is known as the investor state dispute settlement - a shady type of legal arrangement that allows companies to sue governments if government policies harm their profits. This isn’t just an theoretical concern - in Egypt, a waste management company took the government to court because the government introduced a minimum wage for all workers.
Some say that leaving the EU would mean we would escape TTIP and other similar trade deals, but the fact is that some of the loudest cheerleaders for TTIP are the UK Government. If we vote to leave, it is likely that the UK Government would introduce similar trade deals.
We will work as part of a broad European movement to democratise the structures and institutions of the EU. We believe in a more localised Europe, where political and economic power isn’t held by a small number of people with lots of power. Countries should work together on things like fighting tax evasion and international crime, and work together to make sure the rules on environmental protection and workers rights as even stronger.
We want to give the European Parliament the power to propose new laws - something that only the Commission can do at the moment. Greens are campaigning to make the Commission more accountable to the Parliament. We are calling for the Parliament to be able to amend or even veto the Commission’s work plan, to appoint and dismiss Commissioners and to demand evidence from the Commission. Greens believe in votes at 16 and we’re working with allies across Europe to make sure young people across the continent have a say in their future. We also want to introduce EU-wide referendums on important issues and to strengthen the role of EU-wide petitions, making sure that the the opinions of citizens cannot be ignored.
Greens believe that the European Central Bank must be made more accountable and more democratic. In particular, we want the elected representatives in the European Parliament to have the power to appoint the President and Board members of the Bank.
Finally, we want to see the European Parliament given the power to decide where it meets. Green MEPs have led calls to end the Parliament's rotation between Brussels and Strasbourg. Moving between the two cities is expensive and time consuming and the European Parliament has repeatedly called for a single seat, but it doesn’t have the power to make it happen.
Localism in Europe
Whilst we recognise that there are some issues that go beyond borders, Greens oppose the centralisation of power, whether at continental or national level. The EU must do more to devolve power to the lowest possible level on issues that don’t need international agreement and to strengthen democratic regional and local decision making.
In particular, Greens have called for more power to be devolved in relation to fishing and to support small businesses in Scotland.
A welcoming Europe
As migrants are scapegoated for all of society’s ills, Scottish Greens are not afraid to tell the truth: it wasn’t migrants who caused the economic collapse and it wasn’t refugees who waged war in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. We all gain a huge amount from the people who move to Scotland. Scottish Greens are proud to welcome newcomers to our country.
Europe faces its biggest refugee crisis since the second world war, yet the response from too many countries has been shameful. We know that Scotland can be a welcoming nation and whilst it is the Westminster government who should be ashamed of their response to this crisis, the Scottish Parliament must assert its right to take responsibility in areas like devolved public services and protecting asylum seekers from discrimination and prejudice.
We cannot and must not turn our backs on the many thousands of people fleeing war, persecution and the effects of climate change. Scotland and the UK must stand in solidarity with others across Europe and reform the way that the EU treats refugees. In particular, the EU should improve conditions in countries like Greece that are hosting large number of displaced people and tackle the causes behind forced displacement. It is also vital that we work with other nations to drastically improve the humanitarian response in Europe including humane reception conditions at borders and in transit countries.