3rd Dec 2023

Parliament to turn darker shade of green in 2009

With the European Union having placed the fight against global warming at the heart of its agenda, green policies are likely to gain a more prominent place in the 2009 European election campaign.

However, despite the advance of environmental symapthies in the EU, the Green group in the European Parliament does not expect a huge increase in its share of seats.

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  • The trouble for the Greens is that the greater success they achieve in raising environmental issues, the more other parties steal their proposals (Photo: Wikipedia)

"We hope to win five to six seats more, but we expect to keep it as it is," says Monica Frassoni, a co-president of the parliament's fifth most influential group, which currently has 43 members from 14 countries.

According to Ms Frassoni, the Greens are planning to run a "trans-national" campaign, with a number of events to take place in co-ordinated fashion in several EU states at the same time.

In terms of its content, the campaign will focus on three main topics - climate change, social issues and civil rights.

The issue of nuclear energy will also feature prominently, with the group setting out to shatter the "illusion" that atomic power plants are able to reduce the EU's dependence on external energy sources. They want people to realise that no EU country has enough uranium.

The Greens' results will differ from country to country, Ms Frassoni told EUobserver, citing two different philosophies that environmentally-oriented voters tend to follow: they either seek to have a strong Green party or they vote for a powerful political party that is seen as more capable of enforcing pro-environment policies.

Ms Frassoni compared Germany with her home country, Italy, saying that while some 54 percent of Germans believe that the Greens are more credible in addressing environmental issues, polls in Italy show very different results.

Nonetheless, the group hopes to achieve a satisfactory election score in Austria, Belgium, France, the UK and in the Nordic states, the Italian MEP says, while they expect the opposite in southern and eastern European countries, particularly in Slovenia and the Czech republic.

But with the EU as a whole promoting its 20-20-20 targets to tackle global warming, issues linked to the fight against climate change are no longer seen as the exclusive focus of Green parties.

Under an 2007 agreement by all 27 EU leaders, the union must boost production of energy from renewable sources, cut greenhouse gas emissions and increase energy efficiency - each by 20 percent by the end of the next decade.

"It is reasonable to expect that the green agenda will be visible [during the campaign]," Julian Scola, a spokesman for the Party of European Socialists, told EUobserver, pointing to the party's declaration on the financial crisis (5 November).

The document suggests, among other things, to make sure that "recovery plans are an integrated part of common efforts for smart green growth and jobs and to meet Europe's climate and energy goals."

In the paper, the party has also floated the idea of European green bonds offered at a zero percent interest rate to finance green investments.

According to Ms Frassoni, the very fact that more parties will flag up environmental issues in the 2009 election campaigns brings about a "possibility of having real discussion about green issues."

But she urged voters to remain vigilant about some political parties' credibility when it comes to dealing with green matters. Conservatives may include the climate change into their manifesto, but in fact, they have fought tooth and nail against many measures aiming to stop it, the Green politician said.

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