Euro Elections '99
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European Manifesto of the Green Party of England & Wales

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Introduction

There has never been a better time to vote Green. Proportional Representation (PR) gives the Green Party every chance of winning seats for the first time in a national election. Had PR been used in the 1989 European elections, Greens would have won at least 10 seats. If everyone who voted Green in the 1994 European elections does so on June 10th, it will take just one or two extra votes this time to elect Britain's first Green MEPs. If you have ever felt like voting Green before, but didn't because you thought we wouldn't win, vote Green now - there has never been a better time.

There has never been a greater need to vote Green. The European Union (EU) started more than 40 years ago with the ideals of peace and internationalism. Over time these have been swamped by a relentless drive for power and profits. The Single Market, the Maastricht Treaty and Monetary Union have followed one after another. Each puts profits before people and the environment. With every step economic control has been centralised, giving ordinary people less and less say in the decisions that affect their daily lives.

Greens want a very different kind of European Union: one where people who are affected by its decisions are directly involved in making them. Things that primarily affect local communities should be sorted out locally. Issues that affect the UK alone should be decided in the UK. Decisions that affect other member states as well should be made jointly at EU level.

The EU imposes rigid uniformity on its members despite their many social and environmental differences. Instead, it should help member states agree minimum standards on matters of common concern. Individual member states should be free to set higher standards without fear of being taken to the European Court of Justice or being accused of erecting 'barriers to trade'.

The EU has many good intentions but these are contradicted by the way it spends its money. For example, the Common Agricultural Policy consumes half the EU budget. It promotes intensive agriculture that destroys jobs and pollutes the soil and water. It generates food mountains. Often these are dumped in developing countries at knock-down prices, undermining local markets.

The Green Group in the European Parliament is at the forefront of the battles to protect the environment and promote human and animal rights. Green MEPs work tirelessly to bring democracy to the institutions of the EU and combat the corruption of the European Commission. With Greens in government in Germany, France, Italy and Finland, the Green Group has powerful allies. It is time for Britain's Greens to take their place in this growing international movement. There has never been a better time to vote Green. GREEN VOTES COUNT.

The global market place

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) was created to promote global trade and has the power to make legally binding judgements in trade disputes between member countries. WTO rulings seek to reduce trade barriers. Unfortunately, they frequently ignore social and environmental issues and override national safety standards.

The WTO is pressing the EU to lower its safety standards on artificial hormones which increase cattle growth. These hormones are widely used in the US but are banned in Europe on health grounds. Similar rulings are expected for the growth hormone BST which increases milk yields, but is associated with mastitis in cows. The antibiotics used to address mastitis have in turn been linked with cancer in humans.

This year the American Government, acting on behalf of the multinational Chiquita corporation, asked the WTO to rule against the preferential treatment provided by the EU to the banana growers of the Caribbean. The WTO ruled in America's favour, awarding billion dollar damages and ordering the EU to stop the practise. If the EU complies, the economies of the Caribbean will be severely damaged, resulting in unemployment and poverty.

Multinational corporations seem to be the only winners under WTO rules. They have become too powerful and are no longer accountable to the communities they operate in, showing general disregard for employment rights, human rights, animal rights and environmental standards.

The EU Single Market and Single Currency have the same aims as WTO rules.

Our solution: challenge the free market

It is time to challenge the EU's promotion of the global free market. Instead, the EU should help national and local governments to take control of their local and regional economies and to encourage economic diversity. The EU should promote goods and services to be produced locally wherever possible. Greens believe that world trade rules should be based on the principles of fairness and sustainability. In the short term, minimum social and environmental standards should be introduced for WTO rulings. In the longer term, the WTO should be disbanded and replaced by a more transparent and accountable body which can genuinely ensure that world trade rules promote, rather than undermine, sustainable development and poverty reduction.

The EU should use its economic muscle to control multinational corporations. British Green MEPs will lobby to strengthen EU competition laws to limit the size of multinational corporations and to ensure that their activities are more open to shareholder and public scrutiny. Access to local markets would be dependent on a 'site here to sell here' policy ensuring that capital remains mostly in the country in which it is generated.

Green MEPs will resist moves to re-open negotiations on a Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) at the WTO. In 1998, Green MEPs successfully persuaded the European Parliament to reject the MAI on the grounds that it would seriously damage local economies and threaten social and environmental standards. Greens wish to see the renegotiation of the Lomé Convention to secure greater self-sufficiency in food and energy for poor countries.

The Single Currency

The aim of the single market is to create an economic superpower able to compete with the US and Japan. It is intended to remove national differences by standardising rules on tax, health and safety, financial institutions and so on. In this big economic experiment, engineered by the Round Table of Industrialists, social and environmental concerns are of little importance. The Single Currency will lead inevitably to the centralisation of economic policies. The idea that this will meet the needs of 350 million Europeans is fundamentally flawed. The needs of each region in Europe differ too greatly and their economies, environment, cultures and history are far too diverse. A Single Currency will increase regional disparities and unemployment across Europe and undermine local economies.

Only five EU member states met the original Convergence Criteria of the Maastricht Treaty. Efforts by Govern-ments to meet the criteria led to drastic cuts in public spending which, in turn, reduced vital services for children, the sick and the elderly. Even if the Single Currency were a good idea it cannot possibly work in these circumstances.

Official figures on inflation, unemployment, interest rates and debt show that the UK economic cycle is out of step with much of Europe. The tightening of monetary policy in Germany after unification in 1990 showed that chaos can occur when unmatched economies are combined.

At times of recession, London-based UK Governments have failed to protect the UK's most vulnerable regions from severe hardship and unemployment. Operation of a single borrowing rate, interest rate and currency can be used to help either those areas in recession, or those in recovery, but not both.

Our solution: keep the pound

Greens believe that the UK Government should be free to set its own levels of taxation, public spending and public borrowing in areas that only affect the UK. We do not support the Single Currency. The UK must not join.

Europe needs strong, self-reliant regional economies rather than ever greater economic centralisation. All EU institutions and economic policies should therefore prioritise support for local economies.

The EU system of common public procurement damages local economies. In a democratic society local government bodies and health authorities should be free to invite tenders only from local companies where appropriate.

The European Central Bank (ECB), is one of many unaccountable institutions in the EU which affects all of us. Greens will work to make the bank more democratically accountable. The ECB should report to a committee of the European Parliament every six months, minutes of their meetings should be available to view, and the European Parliament must have the power to veto appointments to the ECB board.

The fear of unemployment

EU policies have done little to reduce unemployment and the misery it causes. With over 18 million people unemployed in Europe the lack of job security and the fear of unemployment are daily concerns. For older people and young men, especially from ethnic minorities, unemployment has become far more likely. The increasing inequality between communities can only lead to greater social tension in the future.

Unscrupulous employers are taking advantage of the lack of economic security to strip away employment rights. Official Eurostat figures show that flexible working practices in the UK have already led to the longest working hours in Europe. The unemployed are being forced to accept any job, no matter how temporary, poorly paid or dissatisfying it may be.

Our solution: satisfying and secure work

Given the right direction - a Green direction - there is much the EU can do to protect jobs, increase employment opportunities and reduce the massive gap which exists between the rich and poor regions of Europe.

Greens will push for major investment in green industries like public transport and energy conservation and a switch from taxes on jobs (e.g. employers' National Insurance Contributions) to taxes on the use of natural resources. This will create useful work, reduce pollution and cut domestic fuel bills.

The EU structural fund consumes one third of the EU budget, money which could be directed at providing satisfying and secure employment. By redirecting the European Regional Development Fund greater support can be given to local initiatives, making it far easier for smaller firms and co-operatives to gain access to funds.

The European Investment Fund must be used to greater effect by supporting Community Banks which, in turn, provide preferential rates for socially and environmentally sound community projects.

The present tax and benefits system is very unfair. It overtaxes the poor and creates poverty traps for the unemployed. Greens support the phased replacement of these benefits and allowances by a Citizens' Income - an automatic payment to everyone, made irrespective of any income or employment, to cover basic needs. A Citizens' Income would give us all a basic level of financial security and therefore the freedom to move between education, voluntary work, caring roles and paid employment throughout life.

The myth of economic growth

Other parties at this election claim that economic success in Europe can be measured simply in terms of economic growth. We are told that greater economic growth will create wealth which will trickle down to all, and that one day it will even provide sufficient resources to tackle environmental and social problems. These claims are a complete myth.

Each year, Eurostat publishes the official measure of economic success, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), for each country in the EU. GDP measures total money spent. Unfortunately, it does not include any measurement of quality of life or the deterioration of our environment. The Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare (ISEW) is a more complete measure. Unsurprisingly it confirms that, despite an increase in GDP, overall well-being has declined steadily in the UK over the past 25 years.

EU Commissioners and Governments have made economic growth a central economic goal. This has led to some very damaging policies. For example, huge subsidies have been ploughed into intensive farming. This has increased GDP, but the harsh reality is that intensive farming pollutes the atmosphere, produces foods saturated in poisonous chemicals, destroys valuable wildlife habitats, and forces smaller farmers out of business.

The single-minded pursuit of economic growth increases inequality and environmental destruction.

Our solution: sustainable economics

Green economic policy is geared to fulfilling the needs of individuals and local communities. It is based on the use of fair and sustainable resources, and recognises that the environment must be protected at all cost. It will help local economies to prosper and produce as much of their food, goods and services as they can themselves. It challenges the accelerating race towards globalisation and puts people, animals and planet first.

We would use economic indicators like the the Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare (ISEW) that measure our progress in terms of sustainability and quality of life, and not just spending. With these indicators, spending on social breakdown and repairing environmental damage is subtracted from GDP. Long-term damage to the environment and the consumption of non-replaceable natural resources count as negative factors, increases in the income gap between rich and poor are judged to reduce quality of life, and a positive value for housework and voluntary work is included.

It is important that such sustainability/ quality of life indicators completely replace economic growth as the headline indicator published by Eurostat. Little benefit will be gained if they are tacked on to GDP half heartedly, (as has been suggested by some economists).

Green, sustainable economic policies will require changes to the rules of the WTO. Greens will push for changes to oblige it to adopt internationally agreed minimum social and environmental standards to ensure that participation in the international trading system is not based on the exploitation of workers, animals or the environment.

People are being exploited in Europe. Animals are being abused. We need an EU which protects basic rights for both, and our environment.

Discrimination and exploitation

A number of misguided economic policies have had harsh social effects across Europe. In trying to meet the economic criteria for Monetary Union many EU governments have imposed heavy cuts in public spending and social provision. Increasingly, they are looking to privatisation as a way of raising income, but this is threatening working conditions as well as environmental health and safety standards.

We are concerned by the growth of discrimination, especially racism, across Europe as social conditions deteriorate. The EU's current stance against racial and sex discrimination is grossly inadequate.

While we welcome the creation of an EU citizenship we oppose the proposal that only those descended from EU citizens should qualify. This would exclude some who already live and work in the EU. We are particularly concerned that these requirements will discriminate against ethnic minorities.

In the continued drive for intensive farming, conditions for animals in Europe are getting steadily worse. Countless animals are routinely suffering in Europe's factory farms, fur farms, slaughterhouses and laboratories.

Our solution: basic rights for all peoples and animals

Greens believe that basic human rights should be guaranteed for all, regardless of origin. These rights should be enshrined in the EU constitution. The EU should become a signatory of the European Convention on Human Rights. We want full EU citizen rights for all residents, including 'guest workers'.

Article 6a of the Amsterdam Treaty should be strengthened to contain a strong commitment to act against discrimination based on race, religion, sex, disability, age or sexual orientation. We want it to include the recommendation of the Council of Ministers calling for the balanced participation of both women and men in public life.

We support the principle of a Social Charter and community-wide social policies provided they improve the rights of people as employees, as self-employed workers, as members of disadvantaged groups or as members of groups subject to discrimination. Social entitlements, like housing, are a basic right and should be available to all.

We insist on the right to form and join free trade unions without restriction and to be protected from exploitation in the workplace. We support greater consultation of workers regarding potential redundancies, production methods and the disposal of subsidiary companies.

Greens oppose all factory farming methods and the use of animals in scientific research. We will press for reform of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) to allow implementation of animal protection legislation, including strict enforcement of the ban on animal based cosmetic tests. Full implementation of the 1992 Habitat Directive is needed to protect wildlife.

Destroying our planet

We are a tiny part of the natural world but human activity is damaging life on Earth at a rate that it cannot sustain. The aim of EU environmental standards should be to stop the destruction of the ecosystems on which we depend but too many of these standards have already been watered down by powerful industrial lobbies and reluctant Governments.

The UN expects 'greenhouse gases' to raise global temperatures 1¡C by 2030 and 3¡C by 2100. That is greater than in the previous 10,000 years. In an attempt to combat this, the EU has agreed cuts in 'greenhouse gas' emissions of only 8% by 2008. These cuts are too small.

The US Environmental Protection Agency predicts that the continual depletion of ozone in the mid latitudes of the northern hemisphere will lead to 200,000 deaths in the US from skin cancer.

According to Friends of the Earth, the UK has lost 95% of its wildflower-rich meadows, 50% of ancient lowland woodlands and 140,000 miles of hedgerows since 1945. Official UK statistics put 25% of native species of fish, insects and plants at risk because habitats are being destroyed. Governments continue to ignore these pressing environmental problems.

The problems are well understood, yet each year member states openly flout EU rules. In 1998 the UK finally agreed to implement groundwater directives when the threat of legal action was regarded as too embarrassing because the UK held the EU Presidency!

Our solution: protect our environment

Greens see the EU's response to climate change as woefully inadequate. If we fail to take responsibility and action now the world will be faced with insurmountable environmental catastrophe. Recent studies show that, to keep climate change within tolerable limits, CO2 emissions must be reduced to 70% of 1990 levels by 2005 and to 50% by 2050. All 'greenhouse gases' need tougher limits.

The Montreal Protocol committed countries to protecting the ozone layer. With the ban on CFCs came a promise to phase out other 'greenhouse gases', halogenated hydrocarbons (HCFCs). We are alarmed that member states will miss current EU targets for HCFCs. These targets must be strictly enforced and met by 2010.

Greens want our wildlife to flourish. The EU must enforce and extend current EU Habitat Directives to protect all of Europe's biodiversity. It is vital that EU funding and subsidies are only granted to projects which meet standards set down in EU environmental legislation. This is crucial where key wildlife habitats are affected. Our children must not lose the opportunity of enjoying our beautiful natural world.

There are many schemes EU funding can support which will not only protect valuable habitats but also provide secure local employment. Greens will push for the EU to unilaterally cut energy and resource consumption by improving public transport and investing in renewable energy and energy conservation. This in turn will create more jobs at a local level.

Greens insist that EU environmental laws must be strictly enforced to ensure that our food is safe to eat, our water is safe to drink, and our air is safe to breathe. The EU must take legal action against any member state that flouts EU legislation with penalties reflecting the full environmental, social and health costs.

Risking public health

It has become difficult to trust government experts when they so frequently disregard public safety, and difficult to trust government officials who have ever closer links to the industries they are supposed to monitor. This was a major factor in the BSE tragedy and the main reason why no one has yet been held responsible.

Greens have warned against unnatural production techniques for years. We voiced our fears over BSE in the 1980s. Now there are real concerns over the safety of genetically modified (GM) food. Green MEPs have actively resisted GM imports because of public health fears. No long-term health tests have been done. Plants which have been programmed with selective toxicity pose a serious threat to wildlife and the biodiversity of Europe.

Biotech companies are putting us all at risk by using inappropriate safety testing standards to rush through their product trials. In 1998 the UK Ministry of Agriculture was found guilty of breaking its own seed trial rules, showing that even government officials flout official government rules.

In 1997 the EU agreed a draft Biotechnology Directive on the patenting of human life. Needless to say, the Directive was welcomed by the pharmaceutical industry. Green MEPs argued that the concerns of virtually all sections of European society had been ignored. We agree with Greenpeace who deplored this as 'a leveraged buyout of Nature'.

Our solution: safe food

The EU must put public safety before potential commercial gain. Green MEPs will continue to fight for better public protection in Europe. Greens believe in the precautionary principle. Inventions must be proven to be safe before the environment and populations are exposed to them.

Greens are totally opposed to the production in Europe of food or animal feed containing genetically modified ingredients. The EU must ban all GM crop planting in Europe. This will protect our biodiversity as well as our organic crops. Organic crops offer a safe alternative to GM foods and must not be damaged by cross-fertilisation.

The import of GM foodstuffs must be banned. Where this breaks WTO rules, the rules themselves must be challenged. Greens are adamant that people should know what they are consuming. Until GM imports are banned they must be labelled. Any GM imports must be segregated throughout the whole food production process from seed to consumer.

Greens are concerned about the over hasty development of cloning. Regulations are needed to bring cloning science under control. EU legislation must make it clear that no company has the right to patent life.

Greens within the EU will fight to prevent animal organs being transplanted into humans (xenotransplantation). There is a risk that animal viruses could transfer to humans, but these could take generations to show up. The precautionary principle must be applied. The EU must work to bring xenotransplantation under international regulation.

Agribusiness

The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) are costly disasters. They have damaged our soil and water, generated huge food surpluses, and led to a collapse of fish stocks.

Like so many EU policies, agricultural and fishing policies are being driven by economic priorities which favour big corporations and put profit and increases in exports above all else. Production of food is treated as just another industry rather than a basic essential for all our lives and good health. At sea, floating factories hoover up life indiscriminately. Ships from all over the world fight for dwindling fish stocks and, in so doing, ruin many traditional fishing communities.

The CAP costs a staggering £27 billion each year. The subsidies it provides encourage intensive farming which poisons our water with agro-chemicals, destroys wildlife habitats, and erodes our valuable topsoil as pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers strip it of nutrients and large industrial machinery compacts it.

These unnatural farming techniques also cause widespread abuse of livestock. Animals are not industrial products: they are sentient creatures and do not exist solely for our use. EU policies should ensure they are treated as sentient creatures.

The social effects are equally serious. The failure of the EU to protect small farmers has pushed many out of business. According to the Tenant Farmers' Association, the average income of small farmers in the UK fell between 10% and 20% in 1998 alone. As our small farming communities die, powerful industrial lobbies and multinational corporations take control.

Our solution: sustainable farming and fisheries

The production of safe and healthy food which does not harm our environment or cause animal suffering is paramount and must become the guiding principle for farming and fishing policies in the EU.

Some issues, such as the depletion of fish stocks, extend over national borders. The EU has a duty to protect our common environment by setting minimum standards. However, better decisions on agricultural support and fisheries management will be made if they are taken at regional level. Far greater help must be given to regional marketing boards.

Greens believe that price subsidies, which encourage intensive farming must be progressively switched to support farmers' income, the agri-environment scheme and rural development. This will create rural employment, protect the environment and bolster rural communities.

Greens reject EU policies which restrict the varieties of seeds that can be legally grown and so damage the biodiversity of Europe. Local growers understand local conditions best. They should be free to decide for themselves what to grow.

Greens will push for the 2001 Pesticide Directive to require the most dangerous pesticides to be replaced by safer options.

Animals deserve better protection and WTO rules should be changed to allow bans on the basis of cruelty. Greens want to protect animals by phasing out factory farming, cutting the distances that live animals can be transported, and banning live exports from the UK.

Pollution - out of control

Pollution from road vehicles is a concern to us all. Each year in the UK, particles produced from diesel are linked to 3,000 deaths. The EU is actually building a new large road network and allowing the weight of heavy lorries to increase. Local transport needs are ignored whilst commercial road transport is subsidised by the EU.

In 1998 the EU agreed proposals to reduce pollution from transport fuels by the year 2000 with tougher vehicle emission limits from 2005. The powerful oil industry lobbied the EU until the final watered-down agreement satisfied their requirements at the expense of the citizens of Europe. Moves towards a carbon/energy tax have encountered similar opposition.

Air transportation produces by far the highest pollution per passenger mile. The lack of excise duty on aviation fuel effectively subsidies this heavy polluter and makes flying cheaper than taking the train in Europe.

The EU is building a huge energy network to link the national grids of member states. This will undermine moves towards local combined heat and power schemes and renewable energy schemes and conceal our dependency on nuclear power. We are leaving future generations a legacy of nuclear waste which even the industry itself doesn't know how to dispose of. The May 1996 Euratom (96/29) Directive now allows low-level radioactive waste to be recycled into consumer goods! The official EU aim of 50% recycling and reuse for paper, glass and plastics is not being supported by its member states. The EU's new Waste Strategy evaluates material recycling above incineration, but still fails to recognise the value of prevention and reuse.

Our solution: make the polluter pay

Greens want to see freight transport shifted from road and air to rail and water by replacing road subsidies with investment in public transport and canals. Green MEPs are needed to fight any attempts to weaken the European Parliament's current proposals to reduce the health risks from fuels, especially diesel.

Greens will push for the introduction of a carbon/energy tax and an excise duty on aviation fuel. All EU financial assistance towards the construction of airports and highways must stop. The funding for EU energy networks must be switched to energy conservation and the development of renewable energy.

All nuclear power stations must be closed down. The Euratom Treaty must be revised to oversee decommissioning and to protect worker safety. The recycling of radioactive waste into consumer goods and its dumping into rivers must be banned.

In 1995 the European Parliament met the calls of Green MEPs to halve ozone smog levels. As a result, emissions from new cars will have to be cut to 30% of current levels by 2005 and this year the Commission will propose a tightening of the current Directive. During the next revision of Air Pollutants Directives Green MEPs will fight for sulphur, nitrogen oxide and particulate emissions to be reduced to 10%-30% of current levels.

Green MEPs propose the reinstatement of the 50% target for recycling and reuse of plastics and the introduction of a proper waste management hierarchy, i.e. first prevention, then reuse, then recycling and biological conversion, rather than incineration and landfill.

The European Parliament is directly elected but the real power lies with unelected officials. This results in a lack of accountability.

Remote and unaccountable

Few people understand how the EU works or what decisions are being taken on their behalf. It is remote and closed.

In many ways the unelected and unaccountable European Commission is more powerful than the elected European Parliament. The recent controversy over mismanagement and fraud, which led to the resignation of the whole Commission, demonstrated the inevitable outcome of this total lack of accountability. The Commission has lost the trust of ordinary people.

Greens seek co-operation throughout Europe to set minimum standards on areas of common concern. We do not support the current push towards standardisation (or 'harmonisation' as it is officially known). However strong a member state's legislation may be, there will be times when it could be overturned in this push for standardisation. This would lead in many cases to reductions in human, civil and animal rights, and the weakening of environmental standards.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has wide-ranging powers and is accepted in the UK as a superior court in those areas specified by EU treaties. It also allows individuals to appeal on points of EU law. The Court, however, has strayed into areas which would be better dealt with by national courts.

Our solution: consent of the people

Greens propose that the powers and competencies of the EU be defined precisely in a new European Treaty, approved by referendum. This would go some way towards the EU regaining the respect of its people.

Greens have always called for a restriction on the political role of the unelected Commission. The Comm-ission should simply give administrative support to the EU, draft the annual budget, submit new legislation, implement expenditure decisions, and supply factual information on the activities and policies of the EU. The Commission should act as a neutral civil servant. The European Parliament must have the right to initiate legislation and appoint and dismiss Commissioners individually, helping to eliminate fraud and inefficiency. The ECJ needs a statute which defines and limits its powers. Judges must be appointed by the European Parliament. Appointments must be based on experience and knowledge of European Law.

Greens support the introduction of a People's Initiative which would require the European Parliament to consider proposals put forward by a sufficient number of people from at least five member states.

EU policies are often driven by self-interest rather than a desire for real stability and co-operation. They often harm the poorest countries, promote dangerous security policies, and disregard our neighbours in Central and Eastern Europe.

Exploiting developing countries

The economies of many developing countries are collapsing under the burden of foreign debt. The poorest are always hit hardest. Under structural adjustment programmes enforced by creditor nations, scarce resources are channelled away from public spending and into debt repayments. Reduced public spending often means drastic cuts in healthcare, education and family planning support, all of which further exacerbate the problem of poverty.

In an attempt to manage the debt, land is given over to cash crops for export rather than food for local communities. Instead of strengthening these vulnerable local economies, the EU's strategy is all too often guided by the desire to prise open developing country markets for EU goods. At the same time the EU protects its own markets with tough tariffs on many of the most significant exports from those same developing countries.

While EU aid policy clearly states that the participation of local communities is essential, in practice the reality is often all too different. Many EU aid schemes still create large projects which are designed with little understanding of the needs of the local people.

Our solution: promote self-reliant economies

Greens are determined to tackle the inequalities that exist throughout the world. Green MEPs will push the EU to bring pressure on member states, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to write off the debt of the poorest countries.

Greens will work to ensure that the EU withdraws its export subsidies, particularly on agricultural produce, which currently undermine the economies of many developing countries. Instead, we will promote policies to increase the food security of the poorest countries. Long-term food aid should be phased out and emergency food purchased from regions as near to the affected area as possible, thereby strengthening local and regional economies.

Future development aid should go to sustainable, community-led projects, in particular those which target the primary needs of women and children. Measures to increase girls' and women's access to education and strengthen their status and self-determination are essential.

The poorest countries must be given preferential access to EU markets until their own economies are much stronger. Greens believe that all low income countries willing to meet basic social and environmental standards should be given access to an enhanced European Development Fund (under the Lom? Convention).

Structural adjustment programmes should be redesigned to benefit the poorest communities and to ensure that the costs of adjustment are borne by those in a position to pay.

War and insecurity

We now live in a world of ever increasing insecurity and conflict. Many of these conflicts result from economic inequalities, ethnic tensions, and scarcity of resources such as land, water and oil. Scarcity is likely to increase as populations grow and exploitation of the natural environment accelerates. The EU treaties provide a framework for foreign policy and military co-operation known as the Common Foreign & Security Policy (CFSP). The recent Amsterdam Treaty provides for a new Department of Foreign Affairs and the creation of a Foreign Minister who would speak for (but be unaccountable to) the people of Europe.

Peaceful external relations should be of paramount concern for all the countries of Europe. It will not always be possible to reach consensus in all aspects of foreign policy. Europe is simply too diverse and the historical obligations of member states differ too widely.

Our solution: peace and co-operation

Greens believe that the UK should play a positive part in developing and implementing a consensual and common approach to foreign policy in the EU. However, Greens reject all attempts to develop and implement formal foreign policy in areas where no consensus is possible.

The CFSP should seek to encourage co-operation and resource sharing between potential enemies and encourage disarmament at every opportunity. The CFSP structure must be changed to make it more accountable and senior CFSP appointments must be confirmed by the European Parliament. The EU must strive to protect the world by reducing and controlling the arms trade. The EU must reject any attempt to make it into a military superpower. Greens oppose any Eurobomb nuclear capability.

There are times when a peace- keeping role is necessary. However, we oppose the creation of a European Army which would lack the necessary peacekeeping skills. The EU should concentrate on defence which is truly defensive and be discouraged from external military action. Consequently, the EU must not adopt the Western European Union (WEU) as its military arm nor become the European pillar of NATO. The existing Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is a better way of developing peace across Europe. Unlike the EU or NATO, the OSCE includes all European countries and, unlike the WEU, it actively seeks consensus and is not dominated by the richer countries.

The OSCE is keen to demonstrate the value of openness and transparency in building mutual confidence. It encourages governments and others to work together on problems within an area rather than simply sending in troops to repel a perceived threat.

'Fortress Europe'

The recent Amsterdam Treaty paved the way for greater co-operation in the EU on areas including crime, asylum and refugee issues. With this has come a reduction in cross border checks between member states but, at the same time, tougher security arrangements have been introduced. These arrangements, known as the Schengen Convention, are a serious threat to the civil liberties of us all. Schengen aims to counteract the opening of internal borders by introducing much stricter surveillance of people inside the EU, and much tougher policing of its external borders. EU citizens could be required at any time to provide proof that they are EU citizens. These arrangements discriminate against those ethnic minorities perceived as 'non-European'.

The Schengen Convention fails to understand the diverse histories of member states. It neither recognises the distinction between land and sea borders nor the different nature of traffic across each. Schengen ignores the needs of those states on the periphery of the EU on which the principal burden of external border control falls.

Greens welcome the opening of internal borders but do not wish to see this lead to a 'Fortress Europe'. At a time of widespread conflict and abuse of human rights, we have a responsibility towards refugees and those who seek asylum. Europe must not become a closed and intolerant society.

Europol, the EU's policing arm, has been given powers which no national police force is allowed to have. We fear the creation of another increasingly powerful and accountable body. All Europol is obliged to do is present a yearly report to the European Parliament. Such a powerful organisation needs to be democratically controlled.

Our solution: tolerance and asylum

Greens are fully committed to shared development, open borders, diverse cultures and the eradication of racism. All residents of the EU must have the same level of rights. We must not have Europe-wide identity cards forced upon us. Greens will defend the rights of any country to stay outside the Schengen Convention and we will resist any attempts through Schengen or Europol to reduce the rights of any group. We are opposed to the use of the Schengen Information Service (SIS) database which keeps track of people and their vehicles. It undermines civil liberties by evading accountability for and scrutiny of the information it holds.

There is no need for a common EU border and migration policy as separate national policies allow countries to meet their differing historic obligations to migrants. Greens oppose the Dublin Convention, which prevents residents of one member state from applying to other member states for asylum, and prevents refugees and asylum seekers from applying to more than one EU country. Europol fails to offer sufficient safeguards to protect the individual. It is remote, secretive and unaccountable to the people of the EU. The role of Europol must return to the distribution of information and to the building of co-operation between national police forces. Surveillance must remain the role of national forces. Cross border organised crime must be combated through the co-operation of national police forces and not through Europol or any other unaccountable body.

Expansion of the EU

The first half of the 20th century saw much instability and conflict in Europe. It was hoped that, if countries could be brought together in a European Union (EU) on issues of common interest, mutual trust and understanding would grow and Europe might avoid another world war.

Currently the EU has 15 member states and is looking to expand into Central and Eastern Europe. The first wave of expansion involves Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, Estonia and Cyprus.

However, inappropriate western market reforms have left the economies of Central and Eastern Europe in disarray. The standard of living for many has declined sharply while social protection has been swept away. Instead of providing expertise and investment to Central and Eastern European countries, western companies have exploited their cheap labour, cheap natural resources and low environmental standards.

Furthermore, current EU expansion negotiations are unfair. Applicant countries are being forced to free up their markets to allow EU companies to dump surpluses. The economies of these countries are then further wrecked as the EU imposes tariff barriers on their exports.

Our solution: good neighbours

We must strive to be good neighbours to the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. Membership of the EU should be open to any democratic European state which meets certain criteria. A referendum must be held by that country and the people's assent given before membership can take place. New members must have a free press, an independent judiciary, commitment to environmental standards at least equal to those of the EU, civilian control of the military, and be at peace both outside and within their borders.

Greens believe that a transition period of a few years is required to protect the fragile local economies of new members. Financial help should go towards encouraging the setting up of local production and markets, rather than the transportation of goods over long distance. Countries need to be self-reliant rather than simply suppliers of cheap goods to the richer parts of the EU. The EU provides assistance to Eastern and Central Europe and former Soviet states through TACIS and PHARE programmes. These should be used to protect the environment and promote economic self-reliance.

The governing statutes of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) should be changed, giving priority to environmental protection and enhancement. The bank must be allowed to provide loans for public sector infrastructure projects. The potential environmental impact of the bank's activities needs to be made far more public.

Central and Eastern Europe has a legacy of unsafe and badly maintained nuclear reactors. The EU has a responsibility to use its expertise to decommission nuclear reactors safely. Western firms must not be permitted to build any new reactors. Greens want to see investment in safe and renewable forms of energy and support for energy conservation.

Meeting our needs

Ill-conceived government policies have encouraged the poisoning of our food by unnatural farming practices, the pollution of our waters, the impoverishment of developing countries by impossible debts, and now threaten our very existence through climate change. Let's face it, the old approach doesn't even meet our basic needs.

In this manifesto we have explained what is wrong with the unsustainable policies of the EU and how they affect every part of our daily lives. We have also shown you that there are practical solutions to these problems - Green solutions.

The UK's record in Europe

The Conservatives have always been willing to surrender national sovereignty when it suited big corporations or the Single Market, but objected when it might do something for Europe's people or its environment. The Lib Dems enthusiastically promote the Single Currency despite all its inherent dangers, and have often voted against Green MEPs' environmental proposals.

New Labour used the UK presidency of the EU to make many empty promises: there would be reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP); air quality would improve; EU foreign policy would become ethical; jobs would be easier to find. What actually happened under New Labour:

  • the CAP remains a costly disaster
  • industrialists have been allowed to drastically water down regulations on air quality
  • over 50 export licences to Indonesia for arms supplies have been approved since May 1997
  • the EU has failed to encourage much meaningful job creation, leaving unemployment well over 10%.

The UK Government has failed to deal with the real issues in Europe. Its concentration on economic competition has not delivered a safe and healthy environment, or secure and constructive work, or a fair society. It has failed to see the positive role the EU could play as an ecologically sustainable and socially just region.

The Greening of society has begun

We depend upon a fragile, natural world of which humans are only a small part. It is insane to damage the very ecosystems that we depend on. Many of you share this view and are working towards the agenda we set more than 25 years ago, but more is needed. It is vital that we change the way the world is run. We need to see more Greens elected to and influencing all levels of government. At grassroots level, local people are forcing the UK Government to respond to local needs. Government policy is beginning to promote environmental sustainability in areas such as transport and air quality. A Green vote will accelerate such changes.

In local government, Green councillors are pushing Green planning and transport solutions up the political agenda and were the first to defend the rights of school children to be given food free of genetically modified ingredients. In the UK Parliament, the Green Party has co-authored and financially supported three Bills. The Home Energy Conservation Act and two Acts on Road Traffic Reduction are now law.

There are Green MPs in 17 European countries. The Green Party is a partner in government coalitions in France, Germany, Poland, Finland, Georgia and Italy. When you join us, you join a movement that is established and growing throughout Europe and world-wide.

Ten reasons to vote Green

  1. Green votes count: For the first time in the UK, the voting system for this election is Proportional Representation. So this time, you can vote for what you believe in and get Green MEPs elected!
  2. Green MEPs fight unemployment: By reducing average working hours; creating work in useful activities like social care, energy conservation and public transport; and protecting employee rights for those in full and part-time work.
  3. Green Taxes are fair taxes: Green taxes ensure that businesses pay the full costs when they needlessly pollute and support growth of the renewable energy sector.
  4. Green MEPs support natural farming: Until the safety of GM crops can be guaranteed then they should be banned. EU agricultural subsidies must be shifted away from intensive farming and instead give support to safe organic methods.
  5. The Green Party opposes UK membership of the Single Currency: Decisions which affect people's livelihoods should be taken at as local a level as possible. Green MEPs will ensure that the central European Bank is made as democratically accountable as possible.
  6. Greens seek the end of nuclear power: We are appalled by the long list of deadly leaks and accidents from this dangerous industry. Nuclear subsidies must stop and be replaced by support for clean energy production and energy conservation.
  7. Green MEPs promote peace: We do not want the proposed EU army nor a Eurobomb nuclear capability. We would instead invest in a peace corp skilled in peacekeeping, nuclear disarmament, and the control of the evil European arms trade industry.
  8. Greens demand compassion in farming: We believe that animals have rights and are not industrial products. Animals are sentient creatures and must be treated as such. We support the Farm Animal Welfare Charter of the CIWF.
  9. Green MEPs defend the poorest countries: Their international debts must be written off quickly so that they can make a fresh start. The Green Party is a member of Jubilee 2000.
  10. Green MEPs make a vital difference: There are already 27 Green MEPs from 8 countries in the European Parliament. They have led the way on key issues such as pollution control, climate change, the transportation of live animals, and in exposing corruption and incompetence in the Commission.

Read the European Greens Common Manifesto
(click here)

To receive a copy of the Common Manifesto, write to:

The Green Party UK
1A Waterlow Road,
London
N19 5NJ

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 Green Party of England & Wales - Euro Elections '99.