- Major revision: this chapter is under revision
- Last amendment Spring 2023
- Updated by PDC February 2024
Part 1: The Green Vision for Europe
EU100 The Green Party is part of an international family of global Greens, and a longstanding member of the European Green Party. Along with our sister parties in Europe, we favour international collaboration, especially with our neighbours on our own continent. We honour and respect the founding principles of the post-war European institutions that have ensured long-lasting peace, dialogue and unity of purpose across the nations of Europe, and we believe that participation in those institutions is one essential means of furthering the Green agenda at home and abroad.
EU 101 We believe that issues of social justice, peace, human rights, equality, environmental justice and responsibility do not stop at the UK border. Consequently, protection for our shared planet, land, sea and air, requires legislation at global and regional levels, for which collaborative democratic institutions such as the EU are crucial. We subscribe to ideals of human rights, workers’ rights, democracy, freedom of movement across borders, redistribution of wealth and privilege between nations both within Europe and globally, —the ideals that are the motivating goals of the European Union, the Council of Europe and other European institutions dedicated to overseeing particular areas of collaboration and regulation. We are committed to retaining or recovering UK membership and positions of influence for our own democratically elected representatives in these bodies. We aim to promote knowledge and understanding of the importance of these institutions in delivering our Green goals, and in ensuring peace and justice across Europe and the rest of the world.
EU102 We celebrate the way that Greens working in the European Union institutions have strengthened regulation to protect Europe’s people and environment. We believe that the ecological challenges and stark inequalities the world faces present a potential new role for the EU as part of wider global co-operation. We continue to support trade regulated to achieve social and ecological protection, based on local resilience, respect for human rights, and genuine sustainability. We encourage further efforts to rein in the excessive power of vested political and economic interests and multinational corporations and especially of the fossil fuel lobby. As Greens we are also committed to taking account of historic and post-colonial responsibilities.
EU110 Membership of the European Union gave the Green Party of England and Wales access to elected roles in democratic institutions at a high level of international influence, and a direct role in formulating legislation and regulations that contributed to progressing Green goals and ambitions across many areas of life in the UK and in neighbouring countries. While the institutions of the EU are not perfect, we recognise that in many respects the European Parliament has a more democratic structure than the Westminster Parliament, and has a positive commitment to seeking consensus. We would favour further progress towards strengthening the democratic accountability of the main EU bodies, and towards extending the scope of Qualified Majority Voting in the Council of the European Union. We favour the introduction of transnational lists, and the right of legislative initiative for the European Parliament.
EU 111 We believe that issues should, as far as possible, be decided at the local level, where they are local, and at national or international level where appropriate. This principle of subsidiarity is a founding principle of EU policy-making. In an increasingly global and over-exploited world, many issues of social and racial justice, employment, migration, and environmental degradation must be settled at a European level or global level. Issues of defence and peace-keeping also require Europe-wide decision-making. It is vital that we contribute to ensuring that there are effective, democratic, representative, and powerful bodies that can legislate in these areas.
EU120 Following the principle of subsidiarity, many issues currently decided at the EU level should be dealt with at a more appropriate level for effective action, which might be local, national or global.
a) safeguard basic human, social and political rights;
b) bring peace and security to Europe, by promoting greater understanding and friendship between its peoples;
c) solve and prevent environmental problems, such as air pollution, which can best be resolved at the European level and work together to combat climate change and other international environmental problems;
d) promote sustainable, non exploitative, self reliant local and regional economies;
e) reduce inequalities of wealth and disparities in quality of life between the regions of Europe, and between Europe and the rest of the world;
f) support a rich diversity of cultures;
g) facilitate the exchange of ideas, technology and sustainable practices;
h) promote global co-operation.
Europe in the World
EU130 Greens recognize that ecological sustainability, if it is to work, must apply at a global level. We believe also that all people, regardless of race or nationality, are entitled to social justice. We therefore seek global co-operation on issues of global concern, and with this in mind will strive to ensure that European structures work towards this end, and do not build walls or sow the seeds of future conflicts.
EU131 Europe is a major contributor to global environmental problems, because of the extravagant consumption patterns of many of its people. Europe must take responsibility for this disproportionate contribution, and adopt a co-ordinated continent wide strategy to reduce pollution and consumption of resources. The European Union should promote and economy based on long term sustainability rather than production for short term growth.
EU132 We also recognise that the international situation is changing and the balance of global powers is moving from a western dominance to the development new global powers which presents new demands in terms of international co-operation.
EU200 If the Green vision for Europe is to be achieved, many of the existing European institutions will need to change profoundly. We believe that decisions are best made by those who are directly affected by them. The competencies of the EU must therefore change to include only those which benefit from European co-operation. We envisage fundamental transformation in the role of the EU as it becomes more “task oriented”.
EU210 The competencies of the EU should be as set out in EU211-5:
a. ecological and energy issues which can best be dealt with on an international basis.
b. high standards of human and civil and social rights;
c. high standards of animal rights.
d. regulation of multi- and trans-national trade and investment, where this does not conflict with more local regulation;
e. European co-operation to regionalise the industrial base, services and resources;
f. more equitable sharing of resources between richer and poorer parts of Europe and between Europe and the rest of the world;
g. economic co-operation at European level against predatory competitiveness.
h. peaceful resolution of political disputes between members;
i. representation of member countries in global fora within the competencies of the EU specified in EU211-5.
j. support for cultural activities, especially where these aim to promote greater understanding and friendship between people.
EU220 The Green Party’s concern is to ensure that decisions are taken at the appropriate level. We wish to strengthen the EU’s ability to deal with issues within the competencies set out in EU211-4 which can only be addressed properly at the European level. We wish to return other issues to the appropriate lower levels.
EU221 Decisions appropriately made at the EU level should provide at least agreed minimum standards which lower levels would implement and would be free to exceed. This should not prevent the creation of higher standards at a national or regional level.
EU302 Our aim is to reconstitute the EU as a democratically accountable and controlled European Confederation of Regions, based on Green principles. Its organisation would follow the Green principle of subsidiarity, that decisions are made at the lowest appropriate level, not impose the “harmonisation” of the current EU. Proposals for developing the position of Regions are at EU390-3.
EU303 Meanwhile, we support lesser reforms which move in that direction, and oppose those which move counter to it. In particular, we oppose proposals which seek to tighten the grip of “ever closer union” on member countries and regions, except in those areas of competence outlined in EU211-214.
Reforming the Central Institutions of the EU
EU310 The Green Party believes that the excessive influence of the Commission and its associated bodies compared to the Council and Parliament is both undemocratic and unaccountable. We shall support proposals to reduce that influence, and to render the Commission the servant of the Council and Parliament.
i)to act as the civil service for the EU, which shall include suggesting necessary legislation;
ii)to provide factual information on the activities and policies of the EU, including the provision of base data;
iii)to draw up the EU budget for approval by the Council and Parliament and to implement the agreed budget;
iv)to implement decision on the direction of expenditure, tackling inefficiency and eliminating fraud;
v)to implement other decisions of the Council and Parliament as directed.
The Council of Ministers
EU320 The Council should seek to make decisions by consensus. This requires recognition by all member countries that proposals must take into account the diversity of Europe and the particular situation of each country, and recognition by each member country that after such account has been taken consent should not be unreasonably withheld.
i)environmental issues covered by EU211;
ii)standards of rights covered by EU212;
iii)economic and trade issues covered by EU213;
Ordinary Legislative Procedure of the Council and the Parliament
EU331 We recognise the need to allow each member country to take account of its own experience in choosing a system to meet the criterion of PR for the European Parliament. The Single Transferable Vote, the Additional Member System and List systems can meet that criterion. As well as providing for diversity, this removes the prospect of disagreement over a common system becoming an obstacle to the introduction of better voting systems in particular countries.
EU333 The powers of the European Parliament should be extended to give its members greater oversight of the work of the EU. Parliamentary committees must be adequately empowered to investigate, and to demand papers and testimony from the Council and the Commission.
EU334 Nominations to the Commission, the Court and of the High Representative (see EU614) should require the consent of the Parliament. Proposed treaties and subordinate decisions and legislation at the European level to extend the role of the EU and to raise revenue for it should require the consent of the Parliament.
The Court of Justice of the European Union
EU340 The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has wide ranging powers and is currently accepted by the UK courts as a superior court. The CJEU should be given a statute which defines and limits its powers, preferably as part of a European Treaty (see EU350-6).
EU341 The Green Party believes the primacy of political decision making must be maintained. The role of the CJEU should be to apply the democratic decisions of political representatives and citizens. It should not go beyond necessary interpretation into making its own legislation. The CJEU should no longer be allowed to promote European integration in its judgements where that is not specified in the statutes it is interpreting.
EU342 The role of the CJEU should extend as appropriate within the competencies of the EU listed in EU200-221. Care should be taken not to duplicate the roles of existing courts in member countries.
EU343 The CJEU should have a particular power throughout the operations of the bodies of the EU to require them to meet agreed standards of openness and accessibility (see EU380-4).
EU345 It should be possible for an individual to initiate a direct appeal on a point of law. The CJEU should have a “gatekeeper” to decide which cases merit being put before it. The criterion should be whether there is a valid case under EU law.
EU346 At present judges of the CJEU are appointed by national governments. Instead, the European Parliament should lay down criteria for candidates such as length of court experience and knowledge of European law. Candidates should be nominated by the Committee of Regions, with consideration given to geographical spread and equal opportunities. Appointments shall be made by the European Parliament.
New Rights For Citizens In The EU
European Constitution and Referenda
EU350 A major weakness of the present European Union is the lack of mechanisms to ensure that the powers and structures of the EU have the consent of the citizens of member countries, and that changes in these require similar consent. Some member countries’ constitutions require referenda in some cases, others have no such requirement at all.
EU351 The Green Party believes that a European Constitution should define the values, objectives, powers, decision-making procedures and institutions of the EU. The Constitution should also set out the basic rights and freedoms of citizens.
EU352 The values and objectives of the EU should be based on social justice and sustainability and should not include those economic and military objectives of previous treaties that are contrary to Green principles. The powers should be based on the principle of subsidiarity, with decisions being taken at European level only when that is the most appropriate level. Decision-making must be democratic and transparent, with institutions and decision-making processes accessible to citizens.
EU353 A European Constitution should not include specific polices, which may need greater flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances and development of the EU. For instance, further reform of the Common Agriculture Policy could be seriously hampered by incorporating it in a constitution or constitutional treaty. The Green Party rejects many existing EU policies and likewise opposes inclusion of them in a constitution or constitutional treaty.
EU355 Any change to the European Constitution would require a similar referendum. To pass it would require support of the majority of those voting across the EU, and a majority as well in each of at least three quarters of the member countries.
EU356 The rules and procedures for such referenda, and the drafting of the question to be put on the proposal concerned, should be the responsibility of the European Parliament. The rules and procedures should allow for the diversity of democratic practice and traditions in member countries, but in each country the question put should be the same and the referendum should be held in the same week, and the counting of the referendum should take place on the same day in every country.
The Right of Legislative Initiative
EU360 Proposals for legislative decisions by the EU should not contravene basic rights, and should be limited to matters within the competencies we propose for the EU in EU200-221.
EU361 The Green Party believes the right of legislative initiative should not be limited to the European Commission. Member countries, the Parliament, the Committee of Regions, and sufficient numbers of citizens (see EU363) should also have this right.
EU362 A decision by a group of member countries should be sufficient for the initiative to be considered. A majority decision by the European Parliament on the proposal of MEPs should be sufficient for the initiative to be considered. Committees of the Parliament would be appropriate fora in which to develop such proposals. A majority decision by the Committee of Regions should be sufficient for the initiative to be considered.
EU363 Within the competencies we propose for the EU in EU200-221, the Green Party is committed to enabling decisions to stem directly from citizens’ initiatives. Support must be expressed by a minimum number of citizens and residents of at least 5 member states.
EU364 Such petitions from citizens should be treated as equivalent to a proposal by MEPs, and considered by the Parliament as under the preceding paragraph. The citizens’ proposals must then be publicly debated by the European Parliament.
Openness and Accessibility
EU380 The Green Party supports proposals to increase the openness of decision making in all bodies of the European Union. All EU institutions should be subject to the requirements of openness and accessibility. We believe the immediate priorities to be the Council of Ministers, the Committees of Permanent Representatives which prepare for it, and the Commission.
EU381 The present structure of EU committees gives too much power to particular interests at the expense of citizens of member countries generally. The nature, membership and competencies of these committees should be reviewed to increase their openness to citizens generally.
EU382 Citizens of member countries should have the right to examine any EU documents, source materials and decisions proceeding at any time, without further justification. Exceptions to this rule should be specially decided upon and explained publicly, including the types of documents being withheld and the reasons for that.
EU385 We support the full implementation of the provisions of the Aarhus Convention in both the UK and the EU. The Convention links environmental rights and human rights and seeks to encourage and enable participation by all stakeholders in environmental decision making.
New Roles and Structures
EU390 The Green Party seeks a Europe of co-operation and diversity where regions are sustainable and self reliant. Power would rest with local communities and regions, rather than the reality of “subsidiarity” in the European Union at present, a top down distribution of a fraction of the power accumulated at the centre.
EU392 Here and elsewhere in these policies are a number of measures which would give roles and competencies currently exercised at European or national level to regions. We believe that the UK Government and Green MEPs should promote comprehensive regional policies with the EU.
EU393 Regions should also have the right to define themselves, where appropriate across current national frontiers. There should be regular opportunities to revise boundaries through referenda to allow for population movement and changed preferences.
EU400 The idea of a single market is to create a strong internal economy that could compete with other major economic powers. It is intended to remove barriers to internal trade between EU MS states by harmonising some measures such as technical standards, transport standards in relation to cross-border activities, consumer rights and allowing access to certain goods and services.
EU401 The single market may be summarised as a massive restructuring of capital around a small number of large corporations and financial institutions, subject to EU competition rules. It is not primarily concerned with environmental questions, or social issues.
The Single Market and Internal Affairs
EU410 The present methods of funding the EU should be replaced. Each member state and region would have the right to choose the method(s) by which its agreed contribution would be raised which should also be sufficient to meet the agreed tasks. These should be set at a level sufficient to meet agreed revenue targets.
EU411 All European institutions should consistently promote economic self reliance rather than free trade, supporting sustainable, ecological development in European regions in a determined effort to move away from the current concentration of capital in transnational corporations and facilitate the development of the social economy.
EU412 The Green Party is opposed to the EU’s creation of a European social market in goods and services, increasing privatisation. The Green Party is opposed in principle to a common system of public procurement within the EU. Contracts from local government bodies, health authorities or government departments, for example, should not have to be open to tender to large companies outside the country in which they are based. Regional, local and national governments should remain free to award contracts in line with legal and fair policies. (see also WR681)
EU414 The Green Party believes that EU VAT regulations should be removed. This would allow member states to introduce a series of eco-taxation measures without creating a more regressive tax system. (see EC771) In the meantime, we should argue for the possibility of variable rates in order to be able to promote employment or environmentally positive behaviour.
EMU: The Single Currency
EU421 To qualify to join the single currency member countries must meet economic convergence criteria; the effect of these is to contain public spending, which can result in downward pressure on social spending. The single currency is controlled by the European Central Bank (ECB), able to fine member countries of the EMU under a Stability Pact if they do not meet the agreed criteria.
EU422 The Green Party is opposed to EMU and the single currency. We believe it will undermine local and regional economies away from the centre of the EU and the metropolitan network connected to that. It will increase social and economic inequality. EMU takes no account of environmental or social criteria. It is run by the ECB, a collection of bankers appointed by Council subject to no effective democratic control, but able to override the democratic decisions made by member countries when these run counter to agreements made at inter-governmental or EU level.
EU423 The Green Party is opposed to the UK joining EMU. We are committed to a referendum on any such decision and will join the campaign for a “No” vote in any such referendum. Prior to a referendum being called, the Green Party will join whichever campaign against the single currency it feels has most in common with its principles.
i)EMU should be linked to social and environmental criteria (e.g. unemployment rates, inequality, CO2 emissions).
ii)The ECB should be made democratically accountable, with at least regular meetings between the ECB, ECOFIN, ECOSOC, and the Employment Committee. The European Parliament should have an assent
procedure in nominating the Board of the ECB. The ECB should report formally to the Council and Parliament not less than every six months.
iii)Each member state government should be entirely free to set its own levels and methods of taxation, public spending and public borrowing. Similarly, public investment priorities may be pursued with or without private sector involvement. We also believe that the central bank in each member state should be under government control.
iv)The stability pact should be changed to a solidarity pact, aiming to help those countries in need, not penalise them.
v)Direct taxation should not be levied more heavily on employment income than on investment income. Indirect taxation should be raised from environmental tax measures, such as resource and pollution taxes, rather than simply from taxes on the spending of money by consumers.
vi)Tax evasion should be halted, and tax havens closed, putting an end to one of the major factors in public deficits and social cutbacks.
EU426 EMU is leading to greater economic centralisation in the EU. Given the current lack of sufficient parallel policies for social protection, the Green Party believes that common minimum standards to protect employment conditions are desirable. Member States should be encouraged to exceed these minimum standards. In particular, we would seek agreement that:
i)Equal access for women and men to dignified voluntary and decently paid work must become an aim in its own right for all EU members.
ii)The social value of unpaid activity, voluntarily undertaken, should be recognised and supported by the EU (see WR660).
iii)EU members should initiate programmes to support local economies against market centralisation, with the aim of guaranteeing a greater diversity of economic activity, enhancing social and environmental responsibility, and creating more useful work in each local area.
iv)EU members should initiate programmes to negotiate shorter working hours which also involve the equitable redistribution of paid and unpaid work. They should establish legal frameworks and fiscal incentives to facilitate the transition towards an immediate reduction of overtime, fewer hours per day and per week, parental leave, sabbaticals and retraining. Common minimum standards should be agreed.
v)All member countries should be encouraged to initiate incentive schemes for the reduction of working time through collective agreements, in accordance with our policy in WR343. EU rules must be amended to permit subsidies by national, regional and local governments for this purpose, which can be recovered through reductions in social costs through consequent reductions in unemployment.
vi)The EU should mobilise the vast savings of the European Investment Bank in order to encourage investments in ecological innovation, education, health and urban environment especially in regions with high unemployment.
The Single Market and External Relations
EU440 The European Union represents a view of trade which the Green Party does not share. We do not believe that trade and the so called “free market” are inherently valuable. On the contrary, there are cases where they are appropriate and cases where they are not.
EU442 In the meantime, we believe that the EU could play a useful role in reforming the current global trading regime. While remaining opposed in principle to the Single Market as currently envisaged, the Green Party believes that Greens in Europe must attempt to mitigate its effects. Social provision and environmental initiatives introduced by the EU should, at least, be consistent with the highest standards prevailing in any member state. Health and safety standards must similarly be raised to at least the highest standard prevailing in any member state.
EU443 Controls such as tariff barriers and quotas should be gradually introduced on a national and/or regional bloc level, with the aim of allowing localities and countries to produce as much of their food, goods and services as they can themselves. Anything that cannot be provided nationally should be obtained from neighbouring countries, with long distance trade the very last resort. Whilst controls such as tariff barriers and quotas cannot be introduced within a single currency area, appropriate taxes should nevertheless be levied on fuel so as to discourage the wasteful and unnecessary transportation of goods and to provide a reflection of the social and environmental damage caused by unsustainable trade patterns.
EU444 Rather than promoting transnational corporations, instead TNC activities need to be brought back under government control. Market access should be dependent on compliance with a “site here to sell here” policy. For some sectors that would relate to a region within a country, for others to a whole country, and for very large industries such as aerospace, Europe itself. TNCs should be broken up and subject to greater transparency and shareholder power. Company and accounting law should control transfer pricing and the siphoning off of company profits and individual earnings off shore.
EU445 Rather than promoting the mobility of capital, keeping it local should be preferred. Democratic control over capital is the key to providing the money for governments and communities to improve environmental and social conditions and job opportunities. There should be:
i)A Europe wide Tobin Tax on international capital transactions to curb currency speculators.
ii)Broader re regulation of finance capital Europe wide, including controls on capital flows, taxes on short-term speculative transactions, tightening of easy credit that allows speculators to multiply the size of their “bets” well beyond the cash required to cover them.
iii)A Europe wide and co-ordinated attack on corporate tax evasion, including offshore banking centres, and the regulation of corporate investments in a manner involving the wishes of the affected community.
iv)A limiting of corporation size, plus community reinvestment legislation.
v)Community Banks and Credit Unions will be vigorously promoted.
EU446 Green policies with respect to company law, taxation and monopolies and mergers legislation will reduce the size of inappropriately large companies and prevent a single company gaining an unhealthy dominance of the market. This guarantees the local competition needed to maintain the impetus for improved products, more efficient resource use and the provision of choice. The transfer of information and technology globally would be encouraged to improve the efficiency of local competitiveness and help
improve environmental and health standards.
EU447 The EU should promote the use of resource taxes to help pay for the radical economic transition needed. These are both environmentally advantageous and politically feasible. Where such taxes are introduced at a European level, the revenue from them should be kept by member countries and returned to the community in ways which overcome the potentially regressive impact of such taxes.
EU460 The Cotonou Agreement is an aid and trade package agreed in June 2000 between the EU and 77 countries known as the African, Caribbean and Pacific states (ACP states). The Cotonou Agreement replaces the former Lome Convention. It widens Lome’s scope by bringing the accord into line both with existing deleterious provisions of the World Trade Organisation (for example, on intellectual property rights) and with the EU’s controversial negotiating agenda for the ‘Doha’ Round of trade talks (for example, on competition policy). While important limitations within the Lome Convention meant that it did not significantly assist poor countries, there are grounds for fear that the Cotonou Agreement, by subscribing to the prevailing ideology of market opening at all costs, will make the situation substantially worse.
EU461 Phased replacement of trade competition by co-operation, and targeted support to secure greater self sufficiency of poor countries in food and energy, and an end to their dependence on environmentally costly commodities. This change to be effected by substantial revision of the Cotonou Agreement, to be open to all low income countries, granting financial and technical assistance for sustainable development.
Medium- and Short-term Measures
EU462 The European Development Fund for ACP countries should be financed directly from the EU budget, rather than depending on contributions from EU member states as at present. This would bring signatories of the Cotonou Agreement into line with other recipients of EU aid. The Fund should be applied to all low-income countries, including those to the east of the EU.
EU463 The EU should develop and strengthen fair trade relations with low-income countries and where possible strengthen mechanisms which give preferential access to EU markets, especially for goods produced which meet or exceed minimum social and environmental standards.
EU464 The EU should seek reform of the GATT rules at present administered by the WTO. They should be revised to become a General Agreement for Sustainable Trade policed by a Sustainable and Equitable World Trade Organisation. Aid policies and flows, technological transfer and the residual international trade should incorporate the rules of “fair trading” and so be geared to the building up of sustainable local economies. The goal should be to foster maximum employment through sustainable regional self reliance. The EU must press for the introduction of a social clause into the WTO in order to ensure compliance with core labour standards.
EU480 While action at the EU level has led to an improvement in a number of environmental issues, there are still major areas, such as the climate emergency , soil quality and the effects of certain forms of energy production which present pressing problems: other areas, such as air pollution, still require improvement and a shift in production methods is needed to reduce the use of natural resources.
EU481 The protection and enhancement of the natural environment, equitable distribution and conservation of scarce resources and the transfer of the benefits of the environment to future generations both in the EU and elsewhere.
EU482 Climate Change means we must slow and eventually halt the extraction of fossil fuels. EU corporations are working hard to open up new sources of fossil fuels from the Artic to the Amazon. A realistic policy framework for tackling the climate emergency must focus on reducing this drive towards unsustainable exploitation. Approaches that reduce consumption of fossil fuels are necessary but insufficient.
EU484 Immediate action shall be taken to limit industrial processes which generate toxic or hazardous wastes; recycling or monitored storage shall be used where such wastes are generated. EU toxic waste exports are forbidden under the Basel Ban. PVC should be added to this ban. An environmental Protection Directive should create local environmental protection agencies in all areas of the EU.
EU485 Hazardous waste production should be reaching zero levels by 2020. Closed systems for processes which use hazardous chemicals should be introduced, with the long-term aim of a chemical industry which uses only bio degradable chemicals.
EU486 We recommend new European Environmental Directives to rapidly phase out the use of endocrine system damaging chemicals in common use, namely APEs, Pthalates and Bisphenyl A. These substances are believed to be responsible for an observed “feminisation” of bird, fish and mammalian species (including humans).
EU487 Surface, sea and river dumping of waste from manufacturing or primary industry processes will be banned. Adequate waste recycling and disposal facilities should be provided on site where practicable.
EU488 The Green Party supports a moratorium at EU and national level on the release of GMOs into the environment and on importation of food and feed containing GMOs, pending comprehensive assessment of the safety of GMOs. While importation and release of certain GMOs is permitted by the EU, the EU must support the right of Member States to ban or further restrict the use of GMOs. (See FA710-723, ST361, ST364)
EU489 We support the precautionary principle and strict conditions on research using genetic engineering to ensure that research is in the interests of humanity and that biodiversity and animal welfare are protected. (See ST362-3, FA723, AR408, AR413)
EU492 The Green Party calls for more resources for the enforcement of the section of the Single European Act which provides for preventive action for environmental protection, the rectification of environmental damage at source and that the polluter should pay. We believe the EU must steadily increase the resources it devotes to ensuring that commonly agreed environmental standards are achieved and maintained. In particular, help should be given to the poorer member countries and poor countries in other parts of the world.
EU493 The Green Party calls for comprehensive regulations and directives protecting birds, animals and all other species throughout the EU, including a general ban on all killing for sport, including bullfighting; the ending of vivisection with an immediate ban of the use of animals in testing cosmetics and drugs; the ending of intensive forms of animal husbandry and production; the radical reduction of animal transportation times across Europe, including the ending of live exports from England and Wales.
Energy and Natural Resources
The Euratom Treaty
EU502 The Euratom Treaty should be rapidly brought to an end. In the meantime, the Treaty should become subject to oversight by the European Parliament, and to the ordinary legislative procedure. A new Energy Chapter in the Treaty of European Union should promote the use of renewable energy sources, energy efficiency, and sustainable energy sources. The Chapter should deal with all matters relating to energy generation in a coherent , comprehensive and balanced fashion.
EU503 The International Atomic Energy Agency, the Nuclear Agency and the European Atomic Energy Agency should be fused into one body responsible for decommissioning nuclear installations. That body should become part of the International Alternative Energy Agency responsible for the promotion and development of alternative energy sources.
EU504 In the meantime, the Euratom Treaty should be revised so its objective no longer remains the promotion of nuclear power. It should be limited to matters of safety of installations and protection of health of workers in the industry and affected populations.
EU505 The Euratom Treaty should include: a legal right for neighbouring countries to participate in the procedures concerning the construction, operation and decommissioning of nuclear plants; “same for all” safety standards at the highest level for nuclear plants; tighter radiation protection standards (following the ALAP as low as possible principle instead of ALARA as low as reasonably achievable); full legal liability for damages for the manufacturers and operators of nuclear installations, and a requirement for full and open access to data and provision of information.
EU506 The transfer of employees within the energy industry from nuclear to other energy sectors is a European priority. Within the EU regional economic policies must take into account the possibility of structural unemployment resulting from the closure in the short-term in some countries. Co-operation should continue on safest possible nuclear waste storage and disposal, and involve any state with a nuclear industry.
Transport within the EU
EU520 The EU’s policies of conventional economic growth, concentrated industrial development and enhanced trade have been developed with scant regard for environmental consequences. Consequently, massively increased road freight has been an environmental disaster.
EU521 To encourage combined transport, which includes all movement of freight involving more than one mode of transport whether across international borders or not. This is rational in energy use terms. Whatever goods we may want to trade in the long-term, Combined Transport will remain the sensible option.
EU523 To reduce maximum permissible lorry weights to 38 tonnes and adopt increasing taxation on vehicles of more than 20 tonnes. Lorry movements on Sundays should be prohibited throughout the EU as a first step to cutting long distance road freight.
Agriculture and Fisheries
EU540 Despite some positive reforms, the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) has failed to support true sustainability in agriculture and to ensure long-term food security. The current aim to increase the ‘global competitiveness’ of EU agriculture, the increasing industrialisation of farming and the large proportion of subsidies going to the largest farms conflict with the aim to make farming more sustainable. The accession of new EU members in Central and Eastern Europe has presented new challenges, particularly over levels of funding.
EU541 The Green Party supports greater subsidiarity in agricultural policy because Europe embraces diverse climates, geographical conditions, cultures and agricultural systems. However, we believe that protection of the environment and future food security should be prioritised at European level.
EU542 The current CAP structure does not adequately address these challenges and the Green Party believes that it must be replaced. However, while the CAP exists, there are opportunities at a Europewide level to encourage a transition towards more sustainable agricultural practices and rural development, and to support farmers more equitably. Full policies on the CAP may be found in the Food and Agriculture policy (See FA520-521).
EU543 We support measures which return agricultural and fisheries policies to decision at national and regional levels subject to the constraints imposed by European-level policies designed to protect transnational marine ecosystems. Any subsidies which might be necessary to encourage the change over to sustainable agriculture and fisheries should be determined by national or regional government.
EU545 The production of safe, nutritious food should be a prime objective, but diversification to traditional non food crops and use of land for productive forest should be encouraged. Use of normal farmland to grow biofuels is discouraged.
i)Phase out export subsidies.
ii)Add complementary programmes to protect particular habitats.
iii)Transfer direct payments to environmentally friendly and ethical goods.
iv)Support incomes rather than prices, give support to small farmers and give support to communities dependent on declining fisheries.
v)Enforce restrictions on fishing within the Common Fisheries Policy, and where necessary take appropriate action to prevent the destruction of fisheries by over exploitation.
Regional Policy and Structural Funds
EU550 The Green Party advocates that the British Government and Green MEPs should promote comprehensive regional policies within the UK and EU. Specific provision should be made to encourage regional co-operation across national borders.
EU551 Regions should be given greater input to decision making on economic issues, for example through the EU Committee of the Regions. Policy should support sustainable development initiatives, and seek to build self reliant regional economies. We need to reverse the pressures of conventional EU economic development, which draw towards the centre of the EU and the metropolitan network and away from the periphery.
EU552 Our policy emphasises a regional focus of decision in the use of structural funds. Decision making should be decentralised, and decisions made in response to local needs, not imposed centrally by the EU but against transparent criteria agreed at the EU level.
EU554 The European Regional Development Fund and community financial institutions should assist in the transfer of resources from wealthier regions to poorer ones, favouring sustainable economic initiatives directed at local and regional markets.
EU555 The European Social Fund should be expanded substantially and be directed to sustainable economic development in areas of structural unemployment, underemployment, poverty and other indicators of social deprivation.
EU557 The Green Party supports the principle of a Social Charter and community wide social policies provided they improve the rights of people as employees, as self employed people, as members of disadvantaged groups or as members of groups subject to discrimination or other human rights abuses. Social entitlements, like the need for housing or maternity or paternity leave, are universal human rights and should be extended progressively throughout the community.
EU558 However we reject the idea that this should lead to an EU welfare state. We believe that basic rights should be established at the EU level, but the implementation of these must be decided more locally.
EU Common Foreign & Security Policy
EU612 The Common Foreign & Security Policy arrangements are opposed by The Green Party. We believe the EU is not the appropriate European body for such issues.
EU613 However, in areas where the member countries of the EU have a consensus our country should take a positive role in developing and implementing a consensual common foreign policy under the CFSP. Our country should engage in debate against non consensual proposals, and resist all proposals to develop and implement common foreign policy in areas where no consensus exists.
EU620 The Amsterdam Treaty extended the military dimension of the CFSP. The EU is now committed to the “progressive” framing of a common defence policy as part of the CFSP, and that this defence policy shall “be in accordance” with the involvement of the Western European Union (WEU). A Protocol promises “arrangements for enhanced co-operation” between the WEU and the EU. The Green Party is opposed to all of this.
EU621 Any CFSP should take the neutralist path rather than the great power approach. It should seek amity through co-operation and resource sharing rather than deterrence by force of arms, promote defensive defence rather than external military entanglements, practice peace keeping rather than power projection, and encourage disarmament rather than arms sales.
EU622 The Green Party does not wish the European Union to become a continental military power. The EU should neither adopt the WEU as its military arm nor become the European pillar of NATO. We seek the dissolution of both those military alliances.
EU625 The Green Party opposes the creation of a European Army and its precursors such as the Rapid Reaction Force, and the use of the EU to sustain military adventures. We are particularly opposed to suggestions that there should be “Eurobomb” nuclear capability.
EU626 We would prefer to see an emphasis on the development of European co-operation in a civilian peace corps aimed at non violent resolution of conflict and civilian response to natural and human made disasters.
The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)
EU641 The OSCE is inclusive of all European countries; unlike the EU and NATO, it is not divisive. It uses consensus decision making, and is not dominated by the larger countries in the way of alliances such as NATO and the WEU/ EU. It refrains from unwanted interference in the internal affairs of member countries. It works in co-operation with Non Governmental Organisations.
EU643 The aim of the OSCE is to prevent and solve conflicts, both in the short and the long run, by addressing the underlying causes (such as human rights abuses, economic inequalities, and ethnic tensions). The activities of the OSCE’s predecessor the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe over human rights abuses encouraged the rise of human rights movements in Eastern Europe which contributed to the end of the Cold War.
EU644 The OSCE encourages governments and others to work together on problems within the area, as opposed to simply introducing military forces to repel or repress a perceived threat. The use of consensus decision making means that action takes time to agree and compromises have to be made, but the decisions made have strong support.
EU645 We support the OSCE’s emphasis on arms control and disarmament and the provision of mutual rights of inspection into other countries’ security affairs, demonstrating the value of openness and transparency in building mutual confidence.
EU646 The Green Party recognises the need to develop the OSCE to render it more effective in achieving the implementation of the Helsinki Accords. However, this must not be at the expense of the characteristics in EU641-5 which attract our support.
Part 6: Justice & Home Affairs
EU700 Basic human rights should be assured to all regardless of origin. There should be a global commitment to the principle, and a duty to ensure implementation at all levels having the power and responsibility to do so.
EU701 The best structure at the European level through which to pursue basic human rights is the European Convention on Human Rights, with its own Court and Commission. This offers not only a wider coverage than the present European Union but also a necessary separation of powers.
EU702 The EU should become a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights. Provision should be made in the appropriate EU document for a legal base to enable the process: the decision to be made on the basis of unanimity in Council and ordinary legislative procedure with the European Parliament.
EU703 The Charter of Fundamental Rights drawn up by the first Convention should be incorporated into the appropriate EU document and become a legally binding text. This is subject to the understanding, set out in Article 51.2 of the Charter, that it does not of itself extend the competencies of the EU and respects the principle of subsidiarity set out in Article 51.1.
EU704 Within clear statements of fundamental human and civil rights, their implementation must reflect the social and cultural diversity of Europe. The methods of implementation should be for nations and regions to decide, not the European level.
EU710 It is essential to retain and strengthen the EU’s commitment to the principle of equality and anti-discrimination on grounds of race, ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age, sex or sexual orientation. It is similarly essential to maintain its commitment to combat racism and xenophobia and to support these commitments with appropriate legislation and action programmes.
EU711 We will work for the extension of Qualified Majority Voting to policy in this area, in accordance with our belief that basic standards of human rights should come within the competencies of the EU. (See Part 2)
EU720 We welcome the reinforcement of the principle of equality between women and men in the Lisbon Treaty by including it in the values and objectives of the Union (Articles 2 and 3(3) of the Treaty on European Union) and by providing for gender mainstreaming in all EU policies (Article 8 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union).
EU722 Most of the more concrete provisions on equal opportunities in the treaty concern women and men as members of the labour market. They completely ignore unpaid work and caring responsibilities, to which contributions to the community Greens attach great importance.
EU723 The Green Party opposes this emphasis on paid employment alone. We will work to establish the right of all people throughout the EU, to equal access to education and to decision making processes, and to equal citizenship rights.
EU731 We oppose the use of requirements that citizens be descended from citizens to exclude other residents from citizenship. We are particularly concerned that such requirements are used to discriminate against ethnic minorities. (see EU710)
EU732 Our comprehensive policies on extending citizenship in this country are in the Nationality and Migration sections of the PSS. They meet the objective set out in EU730.
EU733 Whilst the creation of an additional “European Union citizenship” is a welcome development, it is no substitute for full local, regional and national citizen rights for all residents. Nonetheless, its extension to non citizen residents such as “guest workers” would increase their rights, and would be useful in the short-term. At present it is given only to citizens of other EU countries.
EU740 In June 1985, France, the Federal Republic of Germany and the Benelux countries signed an agreement, in Schengen, to remove border controls between their countries. In 1990, this became the Schengen convention, separate from and parallel to the EU. With the Amsterdam treaty, the arrangements laid out in this convention have come under the aegis of the EU. All other EU states have or are about to join, with the exception of the UK and Ireland.
EU741 It is the declared aim of the EU that there shall be free movement of goods, capital, services and people. In practice it has emphasised cross border trade and investment rather than people’s freedom to move. Ostensibly it is the aim of the Schengen convention to facilitate such freedom of movement. In fact the arrangements set up pose great threats to the freedom of both EU citizens and others, discriminate against ethnic minorities, and fail to take account of the diverse situations of different member countries.
EU742 The Green Party is committed in principle to freedom of movement for people. However we will oppose vigorously any moves for the UK to sign up to the inappropriate Schengen arrangements, to impose the Schengen arrangements on the EU as a whole.
EU743 The “compensatory measures” put in place by the Schengen arrangements to counteract their opening of internal borders include much stricter surveillance of people within borders, and much tougher policing of the external borders to create a “Fortress Europe”. EU citizens may not need to show a passport to cross a border between Schengen states, but may instead be required at any time to produce proof that they are EU citizens. In practice these arrangements have been used to discriminate against ethnic minorities perceived as “non European”.
EU745 A database has been set up (SIS, or Schengen Information Service) of information on people, vehicles and artefacts. Its purpose is to prevent crime, and to “maintain order and public security, including the security of the state”.
EU746 The SIRENE system supplements SIS. This allows police in a member state to request supplementary information about people, which the SIS is not allowed to hold, thus avoiding completely the already inadequate data protection measures relating to SIS.
EU747 We are completely opposed to these developments, which evade accountability for and scrutiny of information held on people, and undermine civil liberties thereby. The Green Party will work to make these arrangements better known, to mobilise public support for removing them.
EU748 The Schengen arrangements fail to recognise the distinction between land and sea borders, the different nature of traffic across each, the particular position of island states and those on the periphery of the Schengen area, on which the burden of external border control falls. It is notable that it is the two island members of the EU which have not joined the Convention, and that it has created major difficulties for countries on the periphery with much sea traffic, such as Sweden.
EU760 Policing must be open and controlled at the lowest appropriate level if there is to be public consent and democratic accountability. Co-operation at higher levels must not be allowed to undermine that democratic control.
EU761 The Green Party believes that Europol must be accountable to EU citizens and not be used to evade national legislation or counter international norms concerning human rights. Its operatives must be subject to relevant national or EU legislation in the performance of their roles. The Green Party believes that any immunity for Europol agents is inappropriate and welcomes the changes made from that status.
EU762 As Europol contains both national and EU elements, control and scrutiny of Europol should be strengthened through effective cooperation between the national and EU Parliaments, laid down in statute. Judicial control may be provided through the CJEU and national courts as appropriate.
EU766 Under its extended powers Europol is able to hold data not just on known criminals and suspects but also victims and other persons. This type of data collection has additional risks for the civil rights of individuals. It is therefore essential for there to be rigorous legislation concerning the rights of individuals concerned and effective implementation and redress, whether at national or EU level and whether that individual is an EU national or not.
EU768 The Green Party is not opposed to proper and accountable international co-operation by national police forces against such cross border organised crime. However, we believe this should be accompanied by strong safeguards for individuals, effective democratic scrutiny and legal redress. In any operational capacity, Europol should only act in support of national authorities.
EU780 The Green Party supports the principle of a Common Asylum Policy for the European Union (see RA404). We consider it essential that this policy include a standstill provision whereby more favourable positions in national law regarding asylum seekers and refugees cannot be abolished on the grounds of the common policy. Concerning partnership and co-operation with third countries for the purpose of managing inflows of people applying for asylum or subsidiary or temporary protection, we see potential problems. While co-operation with third countries in this field is desirable, in particular regarding the development of resettlement schemes and appropriate burden sharing measures, we are concerned that this provision is open to misuse if Member States seek to “sub-contract” their protection duties to third countries.
EU781 The Green Party supports the principle of a Common Immigration Policy for the European Union. We believe that shared obligations towards Asylum Seekers (see EU780) and immigrants provides the best available way to deal with future challenges arising from refugees displaced by the climate emergency and other factors. The Green Party’s liberal policies on migration to this country and the rights of migrants would meet such obligations. They are set out in the Nationality, Migration and Refugees & Asylum Seekers sections of the PSS.
EU782 One of the “compensatory measures” introduced under the Schengen Convention is far stricter control of the external borders of the Schengen area. This includes moves towards the development of a common and very restrictive policy towards refugees and asylum seekers. We are opposed to this development of a “fortress Europe”.
EU783 In particular, The Green Party opposes rules such as the Dublin Convention preventing residents of member countries applying to other member countries for asylum and preventing refugees and asylum seekers applying to more than their country of entry to the European Union.
EU784 The Green Party believes that the greenhouse gas emissions of all European states have substantially contributed to the Climate Emergency. This has already caused extreme weather events impacting most strongly upon the poorest states in the World. We envisage this situation may become worse until significant cuts in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are achieved. We therefore believe that European states have a general duty to alleviate the problems they have helped cause. They should relieve poverty in the poorest states and, whenever necessary, provide homes for refugees who may have been displaced as the result of European patterns of consumption and profligate use of fossil fuels.
EU800 The Green Party’s vision for Europe is of different, overlapping groupings of countries and regions. A radically reconstituted EU would be amongst these. It is against this background that we must consider the question of the enlargement of the EU. We must ensure that any enlargement moves towards this different vision, not further away from it.
EU801 The EU is committed to enlargement, and several countries have applied to join. EU member states have recognised that enlargement cannot take place without substantial change, but they are divided as to what this change should be.
EU802 There are those who believe that there must first be a “deeper” Union; the process of integration must have gone much further before any new members are admitted. There are others who advocate a “wider”, more inclusive Union, bringing in applicant states more quickly through flexibility. Given our vision for Europe, The Green Party would prefer the latter approach.
EU810 To ensure that any enlargement of the EU brings about a Europe much closer to our Green vision of a peaceful, decentralised, democratic continent with high social and environmental standards. To avoid merely pushing the walls of “fortress Europe” further out.
EU821 To become a member, a state must be a democracy, respect human rights, have a free press, an independent judiciary, a commitment to environmental standards at least equal to those demanded in the EU, civilian control of the military, and be at peace both outside and within its borders.
EU822 Applicant states should be assisted by the EU to raise their environmental standards. Similarly the EU shall prepare to receive new members by, amongst other things, reforming the Common Agricultural Policy and Common Fisheries Policy. The EU shall also reform its institutions.
EU823 For each applicant country, a realistic timetable shall be established, during which both the applicant country and the EU would make the mutually agreed necessary adjustments. No applicant country shall join until the EU has fulfilled its side of the agreement. This period should not exceed 10 years; any longer would remove the sense of urgency.
EU824 In each applicant country there shall be a referendum with equal funding for pro and anti groups, once the terms of admission have been negotiated. Only if a majority of those voting want to join, should the application go ahead.
EU826 No new member should be required to reduce its environmental standards, human, animal or civil rights, such as freedom of information, if they are already higher than those operating within the EU.
The Periphery Of The EU
EU830 To avoid the danger of building a wall around “fortress Europe”, those countries and regions immediately outside the EU should have special status, especially with regard to for example, movement of people across borders, and short distance trade. There should be no hard border between the EU and its non EU neighbours; as described in our Green vision, countries just inside the EU could also belong to other groupings with countries just outside, for example around the Baltic, or the Mediterranean.
UK’s RELATIONSHIP WITH THE EU
EU 900: The Green Party regrets that the UK is no longer a member of the European Union. We continue to believe that the UK would be in a better position politically, socially, environmentally and economically if we had maintained our EU membership. We recognise that a united international response to global issues is even more needed in the contemporary world.
EU 901: The Green Party maintains that full membership of the EU remains the best option for the UK, and we are in favour of pursuing a policy to re-join as soon as the political situation is favourable and the right terms are available.
EU 902: We deplore the UK government’s failure to prepare properly for the massive changes to our economic and social structures caused by the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, putting businesses at risk and damaging citizens’ opportunities. We also regret the decision not to undertake any official monitoring of the economic impacts of leaving the EU.
EU 903: We believe that many of the worst problems resulting from Brexit would be eased by re-joining the customs union and signing up to a comprehensive agreement with the EU covering the protection of human, animal and plant life. We would also support a speedy return to free movement of people between the UK and the European Union, and an urgent restoration of our inclusion in the Horizon Europe Research programme.
EU 904: While we continue to support the principle of subsidiarity, local supply chains, and strengthened local economies, the Green Party believes that the UK should mirror or improve on the legislative rules governing the EU single market and its standards on workers’ rights, health and safety, and environmental protection.
EU 905: In particular, we deeply regret the loss of rights and opportunities afforded to our young people and will campaign to ensure that all young people regardless of background and socio-economic status, continue to enjoy the opportunity to explore the continent they share with those from the EU member states, particularly through continued participation in the Erasmus+ scheme.
EU 906: The Green Party of England and Wales deplores the use of the UK Internal Market Act to limit the rights of the devolved nations to retain their alignment with the EU, and to go further and faster with environmental protection measures. We are deeply concerned that peace in Northern Ireland is threatened as a result of the UK government’s attempts to undo the Northern Ireland protocol.
SHORT TERM POLICIES
EU907: For as long as the UK remains outside the EU we support close political cooperation with the EU, and in particular working with the EU in addressing the twin crises of climate breakdown and biodiversity loss. We encourage close cooperation with the EU in support of European and global peace and security.
EU908: We commit to maintaining or rebuilding close and friendly relationships with our European neighbours through groups such as pro-European organisations, professional associations and twinning schemes.
EU909: The EU referendum campaign exposed severe inadequacies in our democratic safeguards, and uncovered deep divisions in our society. It highlighted the growing inequality in our country and widespread unhappiness about the way that the country was being run. We reject the idea that these problems were due to the UK’s membership of the EU and reaffirm our commitment to policies that are designed to share wealth and opportunities more equally and fairly. The Green Party will work with others to heal our divided communities because genuine democracy requires a shared vision of the future we can build together.
Part 10: The Council of Europe
EU1000: The Council of Europe has an essential role in support of human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Europe. The UK should be a committed and active member.
EU1010:The Green Party of England and Wales will ensure that the UK remains an active and committed member of the Council of Europe, which through its Conventions, its committees, and its facilitation of parliamentary and NGO exchanges plays a vital role in strengthening respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law across Europe. We will work to strengthen the effectiveness of the Council of Europe and its institutions, as a foundation of a fairer society throughout Europe on the basis of common values. We will support the continued development of the Conventions to ensure that they remain relevant in a changing world.
EU1020: The Green Party is fully committed to the European Convention on Human Rights, which is the cornerstone of the work of the Council of Europe, and provides protection for fundamental rights and freedoms across Europe. See RR400-402 for the party’s policy on access to Convention rights in the domestic courts.
EU1030: The Green Party supports early completion of negotiations for the accession of the EU to the European Convention on Human Rights.
Changes to this chapter
Major revision: January 1990
Amended: Spring 2017: New section “Britain’s Exit from the EU/”Brexit””
Amended: Autumn 2017
Amended: Spring 2023 Motion C02, C03 ,New section “UK Relationship with EU” and “Short Term Policies” and “The Green Vision for Europe” and “Structures”
Last Amendment: Autumn 2023 Motion C05