EGP Resolution adopted at the 28th EGP Council in Antwerp, 18-20 May 2018
Today, the European Union is at crossroads. For the first time, one of the Member States has decided to leave the EU. Brexit is the result of dangerous drifts that are now occurring in too many EU countries with the emergence of national-populist forces, and in some cases purely right-wing, too. At present, the presence of those parties which share an anti-European and anti-immigration political agenda is one of the EU’s greatest challenges. Moreover, our continent has suffered several crises which have put the construction of Europe at risk. This is why these elections are going to be very important in shaping the European project in the long term; the European Green Party is committed to run – for the fourth time – a genuinely common campaign for the European Parliament elections in 2019.
As expressed in the resolution ‘TOWARDS 2019: Let us move Europe!’, adopted at the 27th EGP Council in Karlstad in November 2017, European Greens have always stood for the politics of progressive change, favouring environmental and social responsibility, freedom, democracy and openness to the world. In the current societal and political climate, many people fear change as much as they strive for it. Our politics of change and hope must also address the question of security. To restore the confidence and trust of the people, we must advance economic balance and social justice as alternatives to fear-mongering right-wing politics. Thus, we as Greens will continue to fight for improvements concerning transparency, reliability and more democratic control in order to strengthen the EU not to weaken it.
Even though the European elections are still national elections, the European Greens want to provide added European value to the campaigns of the member parties which, in some cases, are running more than one campaign simultaneously. At the same time, our goal is also to represent a credible European alternative in the political spectrum in order to have a stronger voice on the European project.
Currently, the Greens/EFA Group counts 52 members from 18 countries and represents the fifth largest group in the European Parliament. Our ambition for 2019 is to elect more MEPs, from more countries, and to make sure that our group moves up in the Parliament ranking.
1.1 Green parties in Europe
The Green parties in Europe align around the same values and principles and the European Greens are a unified force. However, Green member parties do differ in organisational strength and political representation: where some parties are involved in government negotiations, others do not reach the threshold to be in Parliament. Recently, the Greens have had some very good results – such as the national elections in the Netherlands, Germany and Hungary and the presidential elections in Austria and Finland. However, in other elections, the outcome was rather alarming and, in some countries, Green parties are still too small to be able to elect a Member of the European Parliament on their own.
1.2 Electoral system
As a result of Brexit, the number of seats in the European Parliament will fall from 751 to 705 after the elections in 2019: 27 UK seats will be shared out among 14 under-represented EU countries. The elections will take place from 23 to 26 May 2019, depending on the country.
1.3 Leading candidates process
In 2014, for the first time, the President of the European Commission was the leading candidate in the European political party which received more votes in the European elections.
The European Greens have strongly supported the leading candidates process since it was first proposed because we consider it to be a step forward towards a deepening of European democracy and a way to bring citizens closer to the European institutions and the European decision-making process.
In 2014, it was difficult to get a green light from the Council, but the European Parliament and the European political parties managed to win that battle. However, we cannot take this process for granted in the 2019 elections as some Member States are still trying to resist it. Therefore, together with our member parties, the Greens/EFA Group and the other European political parties we must keep up the pressure.
Should the process be confirmed, the European Parliament will probably focus its efforts on these leading candidates and will organise (televised) debates among the candidates.
The leading candidate(s) will be elected at the EGP council in autumn 2018. They will be given the opportunity to present themselves to the member parties before this election. This will be done through profiles on the European Greens’ website, online debates or Q&A sessions. At the council, the delegates will have the opportunity to ‘meet and greet’ the candidates, and to do some more internal campaigning.
The elected leading candidate(s) will be an intrinsic part of the campaign. They will be its public face and will represent the Greens in events all over Europe. As far as possible, they will visit member parties, participate in their campaigns and take part in planned public debates. Through a social media and online presence, we will build a distinctive profile around the leading candidate(s). The personalisation of the campaign will revolve around the leading candidate(s), both on- and offline.
1.4 Turnout for the European elections
Turnout for the European elections is usually low and has declined since the first elections were held in 1979. In 2009 and 2014, the turnout was respectively 43% and 42.61%, which demonstrates a huge challenge in engaging voters to participate in the European elections. That is why we want to use this campaign as a tool to engage people to get out and vote – for this purpose, we will use, in particular, our newly built TILT! – Changemaking Network. This platform is aimed at mobilising as many sympathisers, activists and, more generally, citizens in view of the elections through specific actions, campaigns, petitions and other customised activities.
In particular, we will cooperate with the Federation of the Young European Greens to create synergies in order to raise the turnout by young voters.
In many countries, our Green parties will be battling against a Eurosceptic tide and a growing sense of nationalism. We as Greens will fight these sentiments and the political parties that promote them. One of the greatest challenges the EU is currently facing concerns the parties that share an anti-European and anti-immigration political agenda. Greens have always been pro-Europe and we believe that with this common campaign we will once again demonstrate our determination towards the European project.
We will also have competitors on the pro-European spectrum – some old, some new. Several initiatives are being created with the aim of occupying space within the progressive camps. While we recognise that at the national level our member parties might find it interesting to ally with some of these forces, as a European family we will carry on our campaign independently.
2. Aims and objectives of the 2019 campaign
European Greens are determined to carry a pan-European campaign despite the failure of the transnational lists. The main aim of this campaign is to show that European Greens are aligned on the same values and principle and that we share strong commonalities on our vision for the European project. We were the first political force to understand that the many-fold crises facing Europe cannot be resolved at the national level but only through the European project. We were the first to acknowledge that the European construction is the best tool we have to be game-changers in a globalised world and in this campaign, we want to voice this even louder.
Our campaign will provide member parties with the tools to campaign on Green successes and the Green vision for our continent. Moreover, we believe that it will be particularly useful for those parties with fewer resources to build their own European campaign.
2.1 Campaign topics
We want to build a manifesto that identifies our own priorities and reflects the European Greens’ vision of the European project.
2.2 Campaign message and tone
The campaign message will be positive and with a clear view towards the future. We will be an optimist and pro-Europe voice. Rather than sounding pedantic, we will offer useful, practical and realistic solutions. We will show that, rather than being a party of naïve idealists, on the contrary, we have achieved many Green successes over the last five years and have become a force to be reckoned with. We will tackle the emerging political cleavage. We will position ourselves as pro-EU, but also as pro-change and pro-democratic deepening.
2.3 Involvement of member parties
The European election campaign is a common campaign involving all the member parties in its creation, planning and execution. We will create the following working groups:
Together with the member parties, we are writing a manifesto that will function as our political programme during the campaign. This will comprise a full working group, with all EU member parties represented, and an editorial working group to do the actual drafting of the manifesto.
- General campaign working group
All EU member parties are invited to send one representative to the general campaign working group who will be updated on the process of the campaign and will be asked to implement the campaign within their party.
- Campaign steering group
With a small group of representatives from various member parties, the Greens/EFA in the European Parliament, and the Federation of Young European Greens, we will shape and define the common campaign and make sure it offers added value for all member parties.
- Campaign communication group
This working group comprises representatives from all EU member parties, and specifically those working on campaign communications. This group supports the general working group with practical campaign work, such as discussing the narrative, slogans, symbols and visuals.
Beyond its involvement in creating the campaign, our member parties will also be at the core of its implementations through:
- Action days
The leading candidate(s) will be the public face(s) of our shared campaign. They will have the task of representing the European Greens during official debates with the other leading candidates and will also tour Europe to visit member parties and support them during their campaign efforts.
In the national context, the MEPs on the lists can become ambassadors or ‘heroes’ in the campaign. We will find the right people to support the manifesto topics and find the best ways to use them in the campaign.
2.3.2 Tilt! the ChangeMaking Network
We started to build the Tilt! network in the first part of 2018, long before the start of the campaign. Tilt! is a tool through which we will do pre-campaigning and, most importantly, it is our way of engaging with the activists and Green-minded people outside Green circles who deeply care about the same issues for which we are putting forward solutions. Cooperation with the member parties is the basis for the success of the Tilt!, which should have an active role in creating content, and will also be used to promote and find supporters for their events and challenges. With Tilt!, we will reach out to new target groups, and use this opportunity to push the Greens to the forefront on relevant topics for Europe. Furthermore, we will reaffirm ourselves as the political allies and representatives of the grass-roots movements and Green-friendly activists around Europe.
Together with the member parties, we will run topical campaigns on Action Days as well as other events or actions that we see fit for the network. This will prepare us and the network for the EU election campaign. We will also engage through petitions, online actions, polls, etc.
During the election campaign, Tilt! will be our main tool to reach out to European citizens and make them aware of our Green values and ideals. We will use the information we receive during the pre-campaign – such as most shared campaigns, issues that raised the most signatures, topics that generated most online content – during the campaign. Tilt! will give us more insight into what our target groups find most interesting and important, while bringing hope and showing people that they can make a difference and be actors of change. Tilt! is a joint pan-European project we need to build together.
2.3.3 Action Days
The European Greens have identified multiple Action Days which will be used for separate campaigns on the following days in 2018:
- International Women’s Day – 8 March
- Earth Day – 22 April
- Commemoration of the Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster – 26 April
- Europe Day – 9 May
- World Refugee Day – 20 June
- Coastal Cleanup Day – 15 September
- Anti-corruption Day – 9 December
We will involve the member parties in these campaigns, offering them different ways of joining them. We will also use Tilt! to grow our audience and reach out to Greens across Europe.
2.4 Cooperation with partners
In this campaign, we will rely on our partners to provide the necessary input. Through their work, the Greens/EFA in the European Parliament provide a good political basis on which we can build our campaign. We can use the successes and the successful campaigns of the last five years as proof that Greens are noteworthy.
We will continue to cooperate on the organisation of regional European Ideas Labs which are a powerful tool to get closer to civil society, and take them into account when building our programme for the European elections.
We will work closely together with the Federation of Young European Greens, which will create a campaign specifically focused on reaching out to young voters in Europe, and focus on young candidates from their different member organisations. The Foundation will be a great resource for research during our campaign, and we will often call on their expertise on Green topics.
The whole EGP office will slowly but surely evolve into the campaign hub, with everyone having a role to play in the campaign. Under the guidance of the secretary-general and the campaign manager, the EGP office will carry out this fourth shared European election campaign.