Greens/EFA

The Greens/EFA are one of the most pro-EU groups in the European Parliament today, yet current polls suggest they may not fare well in the coming election. By Roisin Berghaus

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The Greens/EFA are the only party with two candidates for the European Commission presidency; Ska Keller (pictured) and Jose Bove.

The Greens/European Free Alliance fraction was founded in 1999 as the successor of the former Green Group and Radical Alliance. The group is composed of parties representing green politics on the one hand, and progressive regionalist and minority politics parties on the other hand. The two Pirate MEPs elected in Sweden in 2009 also became members of this faction. Currently, the party has 58 MEPs. Germany and France sent the largest numbers of MEPs to this group in 2009, voting in 15 and 14 representatives respectively.

The group publishes manifestos prior to European elections. The policies in their 2014 manifesto include the following:

European Governance

The Greens/EFA acknowledge that there is a democratic deficit in EU institutions. They believe this deficit can be overcome by giving greater power to the European Parliament and promoting the use of the European Citizens’ Initiative to introduce new legislation.

The group is in favour of greater European integration insofar as this leads to greater transparency and citizen participation in EU affairs. They support the election of the European Ombudsman, as well as that of the Commission President by the Parliament. The group is also in favour of EU-wide lists for Parliament elections.

Economic Policy

The Greens/EFA advocate for a new economic model in Europe which they refer to as the “Green economy.” This model is similar to other social welfare models in that it supports the continuation of social and public services, higher taxes and stronger regulation of large corporations, and job security. In addition, the party is in favour of a financial transaction tax, arguing that such a system will help curb certain forms of financial speculation.

Their green economy model differs from standard social welfare models, though, in that it puts a stronger emphasis on the “physical limits of our planet.” The party is against development in sectors that would cause environmental degradation, and instead aims to fund research, development, and sustainable jobs in the green energy sector.

Internal Policy

Because the Greens/EFA are in favour of greater EU integration, it comes as no surprise that they wish to see a more far-reaching European internal policy.

Most notably, the faction aims to develop a common asylum system to replace the current Dublin Regulations. The party emphasizes that such a system should be humane and efficient, and should thus eliminate the use of detention camps in some EU Member States.

The group is also for a strong online data protection policy. This policy should focus on protecting individuals’ right to privacy and also ensure the sanctity of intellectual property in digital formats.

As the name suggests, the party advocates stronger policies to combat climate change. The party would like to see a stronger emphasis on initiatives like Energy2020. In addition, the party supports initiatives that promote biodiversity, as well as the protection of waterways and forested areas.

As the group contains several regionalist parties, the group is also for greater EU involvement in regional development projects.

External Policy

The Greens/EFA  believe the EU should “play a more active role at its doorstep and in the world, promoting peace and in preventing the need for military intervention.” The fraction is thus in favour of greater EU-level coordination of armies in peacekeeping efforts. They also emphasize that the European Parliament should have power to debate Europe’s involvement in military operations.

The group also emphasizes the importance of promoting human rights overseas. The group sees a greater deployment of aid to developing countries as fundamental to the EU’s goals. As a collection of Green parties, the group is for nuclear disarmament.

Prospects in the 2014 Election

Current polls suggest that the Greens/EFA will drop to 47 seats in the next election. In this scenario, they would tie with the United Left as the fourth largest party in Parliament. Notably, polls conducted in the last two months have shown them winning between 40 and 50 seats, which suggests that there has been relatively little change in voter intentions since the election campaign began.

Whether the Greens/EFA will gain more seats cannot be fully determined prior to the election. What is certain is that this group supports greater EU integration as a means to overcome the democratic deficit. As such, this is one of the most pro-EU groups in the Parliament today.

Image: ‘Ska Keller’ courtesy of Heinrich-Boll-Stiftung via Flickr, released under Creative Commons 2.0.

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