More democracy, not less, is the answer to the crisis. Structures such as the troika are fundamentally undemocratic. We believe that a shift towards more citizens’ participation, accountability and transparency is crucial to gain legitimacy for future European cooperation. This means that we Greens are working for increased transparency in the entire decision-making process from the Commission via other EU-institutions to member state governments. Even more importantly, we work for the right of citizens to determine the future of the Union by increasing their choices throughout the law-making process.
WITHOUT GENDER EQUALITY THERE IS NO DEMOCRACY
Gender democracy means that women are part of the public life of our societies and take decisions in institutions and companies on an equal footing with men. The Greens believe that the EU's response must be to mainstream gender issues at all policy levels. We support the Commission in its work on legally binding quotas for women in corporate boardrooms. However, at the present pace it would take more than 50 years until 40% of all boardroom members of European companies are women. Therefore, we demand a quota to achieve this objective by 2020.
To reach equality, we believe that the EU should adopt a more comprehensive policy approach against gender-based violence, including EU legislation in the form of a directive proposing measures to address violence against women based on policy, prevention, protection, prosecution, provision and partnership. The EU Convention on Human Rights requires all EU member states to define rape and sexual violence against women within marriage and intimate informal relationships as a crime.
CITIZENS AS EUROPEAN DECISION MAKERS
We want to strengthen the opportunities for EU's citizens to influence decisions. We want to work for more participatory democracy. Greens helped introduce the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) which allows for EU citizens to call on the European Commission to make legislative proposals. Now it is time to take the next step. We want to broaden the scope of the ECI and make it more efficient and citizen-friendly. We also want to create a legal basis for EU-wide referenda.
Where citizens are being deprived of their rights in an EU member state without remedy from that country’s judicial system they should have the possibility of taking collective legal action in the EU’s Court of Justice. We will continue to fight hard against the well-established and well-funded lobbies like the agro-chemical industry or the giant seed companies. We are calling for food democracy, where citizens reclaim control over what they eat and can create fair and sustainable food production and supply systems.
STRENGTHEN THE ROLE OF PARLIAMENTS
By choosing the Members of the European Parliament, citizens have a say on how crucial issues of our times will be tackled, from climate change to bank regulation, from the policy on refugees to youth unemployment. We want to give the European Parliament a stronger role, particularly in EU crisis management and economic policy making. It should be empowered to co-decide on the priorities of economic policy coordination. We want to lower the voting age to 16 for elections to the European Parliament and to additionally introduce pan-European lists with transnational candidates.
The growing influence handed to the European Parliament by the Lisbon Treaty must be exercised responsibly and not be undermined by lobby interests. More transparency and accountability is needed in the Council of Ministers of the European Union, for example by publishing all voting results.
To get a broader and more open debate it is necessary that the national parliaments take more responsibility by imposing better control over their governments’ actions in European affairs. We also want to strengthen the national parliaments’ opportunities to react when the EU exceeds its authority by not following the rules on subsidiarity. National parliaments should also have more avenues of cooperation with the European Parliament. At all levels of governance, from the local to the regional, the national to the European, we call for strengthened interactions and synergies in order to better articulate European policies and their implementation within regional and territorial realities.
FIGHT CORRUPTION AND FRAUD
The EU needs a stronger anti-corruption policy and more effective instruments against organized crime to strengthen democracy and the rule of law, and also to strengthen the European economy. Corrupt behaviour by EU officials or parliamentarians in their relations with lobbyists must be met with very strong reactions. Big business still influences the Commission too much. Almost 80% of all stakeholders appointed by the Commission represent corporate interests, despite a commitment to change. Greens also fight to tackle the problem of “revolving doors” where top bureaucrats and politicians in European institutions join private organizations which they were previously responsible for regulating. We want to safeguard democracy from corruption by introducing robust regulation and transparency for the financing of political parties, candidates and election campaigns. We want to provide the Court of Justice of the EU and the European Court of Auditors with stronger tools to control the way in which EU resources are spent and to act against corruption both within the EU institutions and in the case of serious problems within the member states.
MORE OWN RESOURCES FOR THE EU BUDGET
The EU budget must be increased and must principally be based on a system of own resources, for instance a carbon and/or energy tax, to reduce the dependency on national contributions. Intergovernmental negotiations too often overlook the common interest as was the case in the 2013 budget negotiations which failed to come up with effective policies for fighting the crisis. Greens have been fighting a tough fight for greater accountability and transparency in budget-making. Here we are also suggesting more participation: citizens could be given the right to sign up for pilot-project initiatives to be approved by the budget committee of the European Parliament.
A DIGITAL BILL OF RIGHTS
The Greens in the European Parliament are at the forefront of the fight for digital rights. We helped stop the Anti-Counterfeit Trade Agreement (ACTA) and we are fighting for strong protection of personal data, for the right to privacy and for strict net neutrality. Now it is time to defend and protect both European citizens and the internet from pervasive corporate and governmental surveillance and to safeguard fundamental rights in the digital age.Personal data belongs to individual citizens, not to companies or governments. Privacy must be respected. The data retention law, which obliges telecom providers to store data about whom citizens communicate with, is a serious mistake and must be abolished. Governments have to abide by their own laws. Whilst national security is important, personal freedoms and liberties must not be overridden. Governments must ensure that national security agencies work for all citizens to secure freedom and liberty for everybody.
UPHOLD THE RULE OF LAW
The European Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights. Greens do not compromise on human rights. Pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men must prevail. There is a great lack of women in EU institutions and in many member statestoo many people are being discriminated against under all kinds of excuses. Greens will push for effective anti-discrimination policies to overcome such injustice and are long-standing advocates of the extension of the anti discrimination directives to become a fully-fledged Equalities Directive.
For our democratic rights to be upheld and recognized, we need to keep the integrity of the rule of law both at the EU and national level. The EU lacks tools for effective monitoring and sanctions when there are violations of our values in the member states. This is why Greens have been pioneers in demanding the creation of a Copenhagen Commission in accordance with the EU treaties and the European Convention on Human Rights to make sure that the democratic demands that are put upon candidate countries when applying for EU accession are not followed by backsliding into authoritarianism and cronyism once a member state has joined the EU.
The impressive list of guarantees and protections from the Charter of Fundamental Rights should be realized better in practice in our everyday life. Sexual and reproductive rights are essential elements of human dignity. We Greens defend the right of self-determination over our own bodies 1.
A GREEN DEMOCRATIC REFORM OF THE EU
Democracy is never finished or complete. Climate change and globalization are two challenges that have to be met by improved common decision-making. European Greens are convinced, that the current EU institutional setting is not up to the problems the EU faces. The development of the Eurozone and the banking union means we need adequate democratic reforms which strengthen the legitimacy, transparency and efficiency of European decision-making in these areas too. Greens call for a reshaping of the competences among the different levels of governance in the EU. This means, for example, that the EU should have some competences concerning tax policy and social policy where the European Parliament would be co-legislator.
Our demands for more democracy, more transparency and more accountability at the EU level require clear changes in the functioning of the EU. The European Parliament should have the right to initiate legislation. Europe cannot just wait for the EU heads of state and government to take limited initiatives that will only lead to more technocratic control. A most simple example: the European Parliament wants to have a say about its seat and to stop the travelling circus between Brussels and Strasbourg. Greens share that demand, as do most European citizens. The European Parliament needs more legislative co-decision powers while national veto-rights should be diminished. Some decisions must, on the other hand, be taken at levels much closer to the citizens.
The mandate and responsibilities of European institutions representing the regional and local authorities and socio-economic actors and civil society should be strengthened. Therefore we want a new democratic convention, with strong parliamentary and civil society participation with fully transparent procedures, or a constituent assembly, to determine the future of European integration.European citizens should indeed be able to decide on the future of Europe - and have a final say through an EU-wide referendum.