Resolution from the Copenhagen Spring Council, May 11-13, 2012
The European Union is in the middle of an economic, social, ecological and democratic crisis that jeopardises many of its achievements and undermines the continuation of its political integration process.
Since 2008, millions of Europeans have lost their jobs or fallen into poverty. Many more people worry about their livelihood, the public services they depend on and their children's future. Despite a flurry of summits, European leaders have not yet found a way out of the multiple crises. By endlessly recycling commitments on budget discipline and foot-dragging on solidarity, they have left it to the European Central Bank to keep the euro afloat. The exclusive focus on austerity is plunging Europe into another deep recession as well as dramatically increasing social inequalities both within societies and between member states and regions.
European Greens have solutions to bridge increasing inequalities, to combine financial stability with innovation, quality jobs, economic and social well-being and sustainable use of resources. The Green New Deal is the comprehensive, concrete and systemic programme development of the Greens to foster the ecological, social and economic transition to a sustainable model of development. We want to contribute to restoring the trust and self-confidence of Europeans. Budget discipline must go hand in hand with building a credible financial firewall, strong enough to drive down interest rates on sovereign debt. Restoring the confidence of Europe’s citizens as well as the markets requires a shift from austerity-only to structural reforms, especially in the financial sector, and smarter investments.
We believe that we should face these crises and turn them into an opportunity for the EU to take a more democratic and sustainable path. While strengthening economic union, the EU must also become more democratic, more transparent and more cohesive.
European Greens are convinced that the current EU institutional setting is not up to the challenge the EU faces. We need to engage in a new round of reform of the EU, but this time we must ensure that it is marked by a positive engagement and with the full commitment of Europe’s people who must feel part of the European project and should not be confronted with a done deal. Moreover, we want to create the alliances necessary to change the Treaty's revision system, by removing veto rights for single member states, extending ratification powers to the European Parliament and introducing a new EU- wide referendum.
This is essential to put into practice the Green New Deal, our project to ensure prosperity and well- being for all, across the planet and generations. The inequalities within and between societies shall be reduced, and our lifestyles - the way we live, produce and consume – shall be reconciled with the physical limits of our planet. The ecological reconversion of Europe’s economy and society can only take place within a democratic, transparent and efficient institutional framework.
Together we can choose another way for Europe and build a political (federal) union of European citizens, regions and territories!
The European Green Party meeting in the Copenhagen Council on May 13, 2012:
Reiterates its commitment for a democratic European Union of solidarity, sustainability and solidity;
Considers that the new intergovernmental Treaty ‘The Fiscal Compact’ is both unnecessary and harmful as it deviates the attention from the real solutions to respond to the crises and is approved outside the EU institutional framework.
Moreover, whereas the European Parliament does not have the power to ratify the Fiscal Compact, the freedom of national parliaments to choose to approve it or not is seriously undermined by the link between the ratification and the access to the future European Stability Mechanism. This link, instead of restoring confidence, creates new doubts about the willingness of EU countries to support each other and to find common solutions to these crises.
A. Stopping the socially harmful austerity measures;
B.A set of new legislative proposals to revive the EU economy on an environmentally and socially sustainable basis, enhancing innovation, reducing inequalities and promoting the transition to a
new model of development;
C. Opening a process of reform of the EU, aimed at strengthening the cohesion, the democratic legitimacy, the solidarity and the effectiveness of EU action;
D. Leading the way to a political union taking a responsible role to promote a more just and inclusive world.
A. WHAT THE EU NEEDS TO DO NOW: NEW MEASURES for a Green and social economy
The EGP calls on the EP to propose new legislative measures aimed at strengthening the revenue side of national and EU budgets and/or enabling governments to shift the tax burden away from labour while eliminating flat taxes. Such measures should include:
•A financial transaction tax;
•A CO2, environment and energy tax;
•A compulsory common consolidated corporate tax base and minimum rates, taking care of the catch up process of weaker economies within the EU;
•A "tax competition disarmament pact" whereby Member States would dismantle the tax havens built into their own laws and commit to actively fight against tax evasion by closing loopholes and limiting avenues for tax avoidance;
•A progressive tax commitment pact. Should any of these proposals be blocked in Council, the enhanced cooperation procedure should
be used to implement them for the willing member states.
2. The European Investment Bank should be turned into a catalyst for sustainable investments, through an increase of its subscribed capital, activation of its banking license and/or a contribution from the EU budget for project bonds. This requires a shake-up of the EIB's priorities towards sustainability, greater transparency and accountability in its functioning.
More than ever, the EU needs an ambitious climate policy aimed at 100% renewable energy by 2050, with binding intermediate targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, the deployment of renewables and energy conservation A move to a 30% emission reduction target by 2020 is needed in order to spur investments and innovation for the green industrial revolution.
3.The promotion of cultural openness and access to knowledge in a broad range of policy fields (labour migration, research, higher education, digital rights), which fosters innovation, is an essential part of the recovery plan.
4.The financial sector, which is at the origin of the crises, still needs a strong re-regulation, based on the 'polluter pays'-principle and aimed at fostering ethical banks and social investment funds. The ‘too big to fail’ problem in the banking sector has to be addressed.
B. TOWARDS A MORE DEMOCRATIC AND EUROPEAN UNION
5.Today we are facing the challenge of helping the EU regain the hearts and minds of its people and be an efficient actor for change: in the last few years, the combination of unsuitable policies, increasing divisions among member states and their unwillingness to allocate sufficient resources and instruments to implement positive measures, deepened the feeling of distance between public opinion and the EU. Moreover, despite the relative increase of the role of the European Parliament as a co-legislator and the transparency of the EU decision-making process with the Lisbon Treaty, which still is unsatisfactory and needs to be improved, there is a wide feeling among citizens that they have little role in the decisions taken at European level.
6.Still, the solution is not to retreat within national borders. We have to change the policies and the way of functioning of the EU, not undo it; and we have to strengthen the joint governmental responsibility between the European institutions and the member States, not to increase the power struggle among them. We cannot implement our Green New Deal proposals and rescue our economies and our environment with only a patchwork of national measures, with imposed austerity programmes, with little or no involvement and ownership by civil society.
7.European Greens want to revive the European project, to overcome the short-term and inward looking perspective dominant in many national governments. We remain convinced that a short Constitutional text with the clear indication of its objectives, decision-making procedures, institutions and competences is needed, to increase the legitimacy and the ownership of the EU by its people. We think it is time to define the contents, the method and the way to engage in a new round of reform of the EU.
Beside the proposal of new legislation, we need to change the rules of the game and fill the gaps and weaknesses of the Lisbon Treaty:
1.The EU is not yet a common area of social security, justice and solidarity - there are too few instruments and minimum standards to guarantee EU-wide social protection and job creation.
2. The budget is still too dependent on national contributions and too easily held hostage by national vetoes; there are no mechanisms to allow Eurobonds and the ECB to act as lender of last resort, whereas both these instruments could have prevented the deepening of the current Eurozone crisis.
3. The powers of the European Parliament are still incomplete; the role of the Council of Ministers is too dominant in very important areas, such as foreign policy, economic governance, migration and taxes;
4. The Charter of Fundamental Rights is still not fully enforceable, making it extremely complicated to intervene quickly and put a halt to Member States’ violations of the rule of law and basic civil freedoms and democracy. Not only do these violations undermine the rights of individuals, they also tarnish the moral authority of the EU and hurt its economy. Some economic woes are partly caused by abuses like corruption, nepotism and political control over the media.
5. There is no provision for a European Referendum. Changes to the Treaty still end up in the hands of intergovernmental conferences acting unanimously without even requiring the approval of the European Parliament; direct democratic instruments such as the ECI need to be made more stringent and some members of the EP should be elected on the basis of transnational lists, so as to encourage participation of citizens, increase the transparency of EU decision making and reinstate trust in the EU.
Most of the advances contained in the Treaty of Lisbon can be attributed to the work of the European Convention that laid the groundwork for it. The calling of a convention, which brings together members of national parliaments and the European Parliament, representatives of governments and the European Commission, is now an established procedure to modify the Treaty.
Still, we cannot underestimate the fact that the first European Convention started its work in 2003 with the great ambition of opening up to the public and civil society, but was undermined by the lack of a public debate and involvement before and during its work, and by the subsequent Intergovernmental Conference, which reversed part of the innovations that the Convention had agreed upon.
European Greens commit to involve civil society in the next round of EU reforms and to promote a timely, Europe-wide debate. Moreover, we want to create the alliances necessary to change the Treaty's revision system, by submitting the reforms to an EU-wide referendum, removing veto rights for single member states and extending ratification powers to the European Parliament.
c. The next steps
The right time to start making the EU more democratic and cohesive is now, two years from the next European elections. The EGP calls on the European Parliament to use its powers to propose Treaty changes (art. 48) and start working on the central elements of a comprehensive reform of the EU, with national parliaments and civil society in a large public debate and consultation, to define the direction and the instruments of the next steps for Europe.