At the Party Leader’s meeting held at the European Green Party Spring Council in Utrecht on May 21, 2016, I was asked to give a 3-minute appreciation on a possible breaking apart of the EU and of important topics at home. Here are the thoughts I shared with my colleagues.
What is the state of the (European) Union, several months before a possible BREXIT and an imaginable subsequent breaking apart of the whole? Which EU? The economic, the financial Europe is doing fine, advancing ever more on the road to liberalisation. But, what about the social dimension of the EU?
Its citizens see the EU as the Europe of multinationals and less and less as the one of the people. This of course gives food to all the right-wing populist parties, which on social issues awake the old nationalistic demons.
Luxembourg is a very typical example standing for Western European countries, whose people have achieved a certain level of welfare and social protection, good labour and health standards, okay consumer and environmental protection. These people, this electorate which is rather middle-class and aging – some may call it „good old Europe“ – are afraid to lose their rights and standards to globalisation. Populists surf on these fears. Which does not mean, that we Greens should not also address those legitimate worries, but in an appropriate manner, of course.
In the Western European countries, but much less in other territories, people’s worries about being possible losers of the ongoing globalisation and liberalisation, of having to give up acquired rights and standards to multinationals are projected on the TTIP negotiations and the already finalised CETA treaty.
Alongside the civil society actors, that do a great mobilising job, we Greens have a role to play. Jointly, we should not only heighten the awareness of the population on the threats on social, labour, health, food, environmental, legal, … standards and eventually on our democracy. We should also seek for further political allies. And I am especially looking towards our Social-Democratic friends, who should reflect their position on TTIP and CETA and analyse their electoral erosion in this light.