UK Election / It's time for the UK to review tones and priorities for the Brexit negotiations
9 June 2017
Commenting on the results of the UK election, European Green Party co-chair Monica Frassoni said:
"The outcome of the election in the United Kingdom clearly shows that the political options of the conservatives which took over the tones and the political priorities of UKIP did not win.
"Theresa May’s claims on security were clearly not convincing and, fortunately for her, the call to suspend human rights did not really serve the purpose. Now the scenario seems different as the option of a hard Brexit doesn’t seem to be widely supported as well as the policies that go with it. Unfortunately, though, there is not support for a clear alternative either.
"This is thus another confusing day in our old continent, while on the UK's side, it should represent the beginning of a revision of their tones and priorities for negotiations, notably on citizens’ rights and on the perspective of a transformation of the economy towards sustainability.
"We congratulate the co-leader of the Green Party of England and Wales Caroline Lucas, who retained her Brighton Pavillion seat with a massive majority of the votes."
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The EGP regrets the decision of a majority of British voters to take their country out of the EU, and considers that such a decision is negative both for the EU and the UK.
We also note that a majority of voters in Scotland (62%), Northern Ireland (56%) and Gibraltar (96%) favored remaining in the EU. This places them at clear odds with the majority of those in England and Wales who voted to leave, but that due to relative population size this means the people in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Gibraltar might be dragged out of the European Union against the will of the majority of their population. There is also particular concern for those in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland for whom the implications of an EU/non-EU border could have even more serious security consequences.
The campaign for the referendum, largely acrimonious and flawed by false claims, which frequently fostered xenophobia, revealed a very divided country:a country which had been struggling to deliver fair economic development in the face of multiple challenges of globalization and weakened by socially unjust and short-sighted governmental policies as well as internal fighting in the ruling Conservative party for years. The EGP condemns the rise of violent attacks on minority groups, EU citizens and other third country residents and their property in the aftermath of the referendum
The UK Government has so far been unable or unwilling to embark on a clear course vis-à-vis the desired future relationships towards the EU. Although we consider that the people in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Gibraltar have given a clear mandate to their representatives to stay in the European Union, it is completely unclear how the wishes of the voters in these jurisdictions will be taken into consideration in the negotiations. A strong group within the Conservative Party seems to be aiming for the deepest possible break-up with the rest of the EU.. It is already apparent that the Brexit referendum will have negative consequences both for the UK and the other 27 member states.
We consider that:
1. The first and most important priority for the EU is now to keep the EU together in the Brexit process and beyond. We need to align the diverging interests of the different member states with a strong common negotiating position. It must be clear that the fundamental values and all founding principles of the EU treaties must not be called into question.
2. All options will be explored to ensure Scotland, Northern Ireland and Gibraltar and their peoples can retain their membership of the EU.
3. If at any moment the British voters would want to reverse the course taken in the Brexit referendum, the EU should stand ready to welcome the UK back.
4. We must be extremely cautious about the Brexit procedure, so that it does not cause a precedent allowing other member states to design their own way out. The agreement to bring the UK out of the EU should be negotiated fairly for both sides, in full transparency and with the involvement of elected representatives of both the EU and UK. We want the European Council to appoint the European Commission to lead the negotiations with participation of the European Parliament.
5. The UK Government should include representatives of the devolved administrations in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales directly in the negotiations. We want the negotiations to redefine a partnership that keeps the UK and the EU together as closely as possible and that ensures the future of the EU is not jeopardized. The voices of the 48,1% UK citizens that voted remain should be taken into account.
6. It is in the interest of both the EU and the UK citizens, workers, students and economic actors that the agreement does not reduce their current rights and liberties. Introducing hurdles and obstacles to the every-day life of the citizens and residents and to their business and activities must not be allowed to be the result of an ill guided attempt to “regain sovereignty”; In this context, we reaffirm that the four freedoms (free movement of goods, freedom of movement for people, right of establishment and freedom to provide services, free movement of capital) are inseparable and will oppose any deal which would allow free movement for services, goods and capital without allowing free circulation of people. We will also be vigilant about the proposals of the UK concerning the European Convention on Human Rights and the Touquet Agreement (allows British officials to operate border controls in Calais and vice versa for French counterparts in Dover).
7. We oppose the idea that the British Government might try to base the economic future of the UK on building a tax haven for multinationals and rich individuals, on lowering social standards that have been achieved within the EU, or on rolling back environmental goals and standards that we have fought for so long. We consider that a trend towards UK basing its economic future on unfair tax competition and social dumping, mainly benefiting to large companies, or any attempts to build a tax haven, will only lead to more tax injustice and less well-being in the UK and in the EU. We will fight for the right of all, including young people, university students, apprentices, researchers, young entrepreneurs and workers to continue to have full access to free travel and exchanges throughout Europe.
8. The EU referendum result is already affecting the life of three million EU citizens living in the UK and 1.3 million Britons living in the EU. The Greens demand that all EU citizens currently living in the UK keep all their rights they are currently entitled to in the UK. This has to be negotiated at EU level and should aim at establishing reciprocal rights for Britons living in the EU.
9. The EGP supports the stance of EU Institutions that negotiations over Brexit can only start after the official invocation of Article 50 by the British Government. The prospective agreement between the EU and the UK shall be comprehensive and broad but cannot infringe upon the acquis communitaire. In the course of such negotiations, we want the EU to press for strong cooperation beyond single market related issues also in the future, e.g. climate policies, environmental protection, migration, domestic security, anti-terrorism, foreign and security policy, development cooperation, international rule of law and the defense of democracy and human rights.
FUTURE OF THE EU/RESET
10. The European Union was and still is a project of peace, overcoming borders and nationalism and bringing people together. We are determined to defend its achievements with regards to our shared European values, the rule of law, security and development, and continue to promote the EU is the best level of governance to tackle the major current challenges, such as climate change and globalization. But over the last years, the EU has progressively lost for many of its citizens the ability of protecting them from impoverishment and precariousness, to demonstrate that public policies at the EU level guarantee the general interest and its capacity to take positive decisions in such important issues like migration and security.
11. EGP believes that today, it is not just the EU’s ambitions - to build and strengthen a common European space of freedom, security, prosperity and democracy - that are being challenged. It is the very idea of a common future, shared sovereignty and core democratic values that is being undermined, with a steady rise of attacks against minorities, opposition forces and independent media and a widespread EU bashing coming from populist forces and governments.
12. In light of the wave of populism continuing to gain ground, many European leaders are adopting the intolerant and scapegoating rhetoric of the far right. This is a threat to a democratic and diverse Europe. Countering right-wing and populist movements, fighting the hostile atmosphere minorities are currently confronted with and standing with marginalised groups is a matter of common responsibility. More than ever, social and political alliances against the extreme right are needed in order to counteract this trend and to promote the values of a Europe of solidarity.
13. That is why EGP wants the EU to “reset”, in order to be able to deliver credible solutions to the citizens. It is possible to implement policies which aim at solving the persistent economic uncertainty and a growing sense of insecurity; policies of empowering citizens; policies of realizing a green transition of our economies; policies of responding to the desperate needs of people escaping from wars and misery. Such solutions must be an alternative to the mainstream policies, carried out today by an increasing number of national governments. Whether it originates with member states or with the Commission led by Jean-Claude Juncker, we will oppose policies that reduce social and citizenship rights, that seal borders, that seek competitiveness through deregulation, and that limit our capacity as European citizens to act together.
14. For the EU to reset, it needs to change. We need to start the process for a democratic reform in the institutional framework, which currently focuses on intergovernmental procedures and lacks transparency and public ownership of the decision-making. We are in favor of a strong parliament, composed partly on the basis of European lists. We remain convinced that democracy can be expanded at all levels in Europe. Facing a risk of collapse, Europe’s policies need to provide more efficiency, transparency and accountability. The EGP rejects the myth that in order to regain control and ownership of the most important decisions and to face the challenges of growing economic and social insecurity, it would be necessary to dismantle the EU, just the contrary.
15. We see 5 areas of common action that will have to play a major role in regaining citizens trust:
- We need a paradigm shift from austerity to investment, with a particular emphasis on building a “Transformation Union” that, against the backdrop of the threats of climate change, drives the necessary green economic transition. We want to make the Energy- und Climate Union based on renewables efficiency and energy savings a key element of a strengthened European integration project. The EU should finally comply with the Commission's promises to create a "Social Europe", including an effective spending of available means to fight poverty, precarious work and social exclusion. Member States urgently need to deliver a fair wage for a fair day's work.
- We need more European cooperation on domestic as well as foreign security, while insisting that the respect of human and civil rights must not be seen as an impediment to, but the basis of such cooperation.
- The EU must continue fighting against tax evasion, tax fraud, unfair tax loopholes and tax havens, because it is obviously easier to force big corporations and rich individuals to pay their fair share if EU member states act in unison. This would help financing the welfare state and strengthen social security including unemployment insurance schemes, public health, pensions and basic social security.
- Whereas it seems to be very difficult at the moment to find unanimity on a pan-EU level on a humanitarian refugee and migration policy, we advocate that the countries that take a more progressive stance on this issue should break the deadlock by going for enhanced cooperation between them, within the legal framework of the EU and with the involvement of the Commission and the EP. Furthermore, EGP is in favour for introducing a mechanism, which would support countries accepting to relocate refugees and encourage the others to reconsider their decision not to participate in the relocation scheme, decided on the basis of the Commission's proposal. There must be consequences if a member state does not take its' share of responsibility.
- Young people are the passionate advocates of our common European future. The EU cannot afford to fail young people by not answering to their needs; youth policies, in particular a consistent fight against youth unemployment, which is still hovering at about 20%, is of paramount importance. We additionally need to strengthen the cooperation and the exchange via Erasmus+ and other programmes between young people in Europe. We want to advance ideas like the free inter-rail ticket for young Europeans - to make Europe a reality for the young generation.
14. The EGP intends to be an active part and promoter of a large alliance between civil society, trade unions, social movements and progressive political forces to lead Europe out of the crisis, towards an efficient multi-layered democracy. The supranational level of competences must be matched with adequate resources. As demonstrated by the large mobilization against TTIP, the increasing importance of campaigns such as Divestment and the important involvement of local authorities and citizens in favor of migrants and refugees in many countries, it is possible to have an impact on decision-making and revert decisions that seemed already done. The building of such alliances and mobilizations in favor of a EU democratic reform represents for EGP a major challenge and priority for the years to come.
No doubt about it: the EU is on the brink. This constitutes a huge danger, but it could be turned into an opportunity. Since the outbreak of the financial disaster in 2008, member state governments and the European Commission have been hopping from summit to summit, plagued by their inability to act adequately on the various challenges they have had to face, and without a care to the proposals and initiatives coming from both the European Parliament and civil society. Too little, too late, too scattered, too technocratic and too undermined by the many reluctant member states? Yes. But still strong and too necessary to be left abandoned. The necessity of a united Europe is why we want to change the EU.
The multiplication of walls and fences between countries and peoples could be the straw breaking the camel’s back, destroying the EU already tainted by disunion. Riddled with sharp divisions and inequalities mirroring those existing at the national level, the EU has lost clout and legitimacy each time its national governments responded with a resounding “NO” to a common solution. 
As a consequence of this self-inflicted and increasing collective weakness, the forces opposing the EU have been strengthened, even without directly entering many governments. Bolstered by a new generation of populist leaders, these movements gained enough dynamic to seriously disrupt democratic communality in many countries, to taint the European Parliament, and to interfere with the balance of power between the member states. Still, today's crisis is not the sole responsibility of populist and nationalist movements. Deaths in the Mediterranean, closing of the borders, breaches of Human Rights, secret negotiations on the TTIP fall under the responsibility of current ruling majorities.
What will it take to bring European governments, media outlets and the public at large back to the awareness that only EU solutions and solidarity are fit to address the current challenges? Since regression is always possible, a new trajectory has to be based on proposals that demonstrate that the EU is the adequate framework to deal with global challenges. To reach this goal we are building alliances with democratic, social and environmental forces and movements. But what we need most urgently is to find ways to rekindle the desire for European integration, through renewed purpose and direction.
Many national governments blamed problems of a changing world on the EU. As Greens we see European integration as part of the answer for the challenges we are facing together. Breaking the European project would on the contrary make joint solutions more difficult. That is also why we want the UK to stay part of the European Union.
The European construction must be a shared project and horizon; a democratic union based on a community of values and not just of currencies, not an end in itself but a tool to build a just, safe and sustainable society. It will take more than a single market or a single currency in order to strengthen peace, tame globalisation, defend civic and human rights and organise a transition towards a sustainable Green economic and social system. Much in the same way, none of these crucial challenges can be tackled with a return to nationalism and chauvinism.
It is time to step up to the plate to show fighting spirit and to wage a valiant struggle for the European dream.
Think EUROPEAN, act Green:
- Our cultures and societies are stronger than those who gain consensus through fear and claims of simplistic solutions; we are convinced that current tendencies leaning towards a disaggregation of the EU project can be stopped. Despite what Euro-sceptics and other anti-EU forces say, Europe is the future of democracy – it’s about reclaiming power and sovereignty at the level where it is yielded, and from international corporation, financial markets, transnational networks and organised crime. The future of democracy will also be played out both on a local, national and global level and we will be all the more secure if we will play together with our neighbors: it is a fascinating challenge, and we are ready for it. This challenge is about opening a reform process that would not only allow the construction of truly democratic institutional framework but also a shared ownership of the European political space.
- In a world where currently more than 60 million people have had to leave behind their homes due to conflict or natural and climatic events, going back to borders and building real or imaginary fences between EU countries is wrong. Borders are a reality, but to try making them impenetrable is not only morally unacceptable but politically ineffective and economically disastrous: they violate our values of human rights and freedom as established by International and EU Law and do not ensure our security; they increase the human suffering of refugees who are left stranded; they instill a sense of failure in European citizens, who see borders and barriers erected once again after it took so long to tear them down; and they have an absurd economic cost (up to 110 billions euro in the next 10 years ), where security measures are wasted on helpless women, men and children instead of on effectively using our means to stop war, terrorism and its causes. Solidarity, respect of human rights and rule of law are among the very reasons which attract so many people to our shores: they are the most effective approach to find working solutions at a sustainable cost, the prerequisite to govern a situation which is challenging, but perfectly manageable for the richest continent on earth. Just imagine how many decent shelters or integration measures could have been organised with the supposed 106 million euros spent in Hungary to build its fences, or the 200 million pounds spent by the UK to stop migrants and asylum seekers in Calais. Our main message is one of building a collective “common sense”, able to face what is no more an emergency but is becoming a “new normal”; a collective “common sense”, which radically rejects the catchy logic of populist and nationalist rhetoric, simply because their solutions never functioned. Let us reassert this truth: solidarity works.
- Years of blind austerity measures, promoted under the flag of pursuing necessary reforms, where public expenditure and investments were treated as deficits to be cut, contributed to bringing many EU economies to a standstill; they helped undermining the European promise of shared prosperity, brought back resentment and prejudice between Europeans and made void the value of solidarity. We witness the feeling of a growing distance between technocratic elites and citizens. But opposing austerity and technocracy is not sufficient to turn our fate around: we must indeed build a new future on the basis of sustainability within planetary boundaries. In the framework of a wider democratic reform, aimed at overcoming its current deficit of decision-capacity and legitimacy, the EU must change its economic governance. We need a roadmap with a timetable for EMU reform, including its democractisation. In particular, it is necessary to limit and frame the powers of the Eurogroup, where we should get rid of its opaque, informal procedures and uncontrollable decisions and make it subject to the rules of normal EU decision-making. Moreover, the European Parliament must be able to fully participate in the decision making process of all economic and financial matters. The President of the Commission should continue to be elected by the European Parliament after a public process enhancing citizens' participation and involving European parties (Spitzenkandidaten). And national parliaments should make their governments accountable over how they act on the EU level. This can happen only with the strengthening of a European public sphere, of Europe-wide media and political debates over our shared continent.
- Besides preparing future reforms, we need to stop and revert the erosion of common rules and long established social rights, which is today underway. The drift towards a subtle dismantlement of crucial citizens’ rights, a progressive emptying of the right of non discrimination of workers, and the introduction of loopholes and exceptions in the right of free establishment and circulation, are not just a cynical attempt to convince a reluctant national public opinion to stay in a less united Europe. They are a dangerous for all EU citizens. Too much political capital and a feeling of togetherness has already been wasted: we have to counter arguments in favor of re-nationalisation, by showing that a strong European framework can enlarge the scope of rights and freedoms for its citizens, and not restrict them. Enhanced cooperation among member states could be a useful tool.
But even the best procedures and decision-making are no guarantee that policies themselves will change. We need coherent EU wide political action and new alliances, to reverse the ongoing trend of unsustainable growth, scarce and low paid jobs, waste of talent, continued social exclusion and weak energy policies; we must take up the results and the global responsibilities derived from the Paris Accord. A “Green New Deal” is at the core of our European economic and social agenda: going Green is the most promising way to create jobs of quality and innovative economic activities, in which individual initiatives, a better distribution of profits and technological innovation are coherent with the need for an ecological transition, an ambitious sustainable investment policy. A new European investment strategy should focus on promoting resource and energy efficiency, the digitalization of industry and new industrial production technologies, while also safeguarding social justice. The EU should finally meet its responsibility to tackle the global climate crisis.
In these troublesome times, when so many doubt the value of our common endeavour, we have to remember what a group of young prisoners of the fascist regime on a remote island wrote in 1941, in the midst of the Second World War, when Hitler seemed unstoppable: “A free and united Europe is the necessary premise to the strengthening of modern civilization, for which the totalitarian era represented a standstill.” It is our obligation to continue defending this project.
There are a good number of reasons for pursuing the unfinished business of political integration in Europe. The achievement of a truly continental democracy might be the most compelling one. With fundamental, civic and social rights, the building of national democracy has been a historical journey of collective conquests and counter-balances to dominant established powers. The existence of a “problem with democracy” remains one of the most resilient thorns in the side of European politics, and a vicious circle when it comes to declining election turnout, credibility and legitimacy.
The next chapter in the history of democracy could then be to complete the enlargement of the scope of rights and freedoms beyond their national framework, and not to crush individual differences and cultures, but to make them safer and stronger.
We are and will remain committed Europeans, even in difficult times. We will continue to champion reform with courage and conviction – to make Europe a more prosperous, free and safe place for all.
 E.g. on debt pooling and solidarity at the beginning of the sovereign debt crisis; on a proposal to increase the EU budget in order to support investments and economic recovery; on the threats to the rule of law and democracy in Romania, Hungary, Poland, etc.; on the need for transparency and public scrutiny in international trade negotiations; on the urgency for more ambitious targets and policies to combat climate change; and on the adequate redistribution of refugees).
 In 1941, Ernesto Rossi and Altiero Spinelli, drew up a manifesto "for a free and united Europe" while held captive on the Italian island of Ventotene. It is commonly referred to as the Ventotene Manifesto.
Resolution adopted as amended, Athens Council, November 2012 (.pdf is attached)
A. whereas following several serious violation of basic freedoms, human rights and the rule of law in the course of recent months, there are increasing concerns with regards to Russia’s compliance with international and national obligations;
B. whereas the Russian Federation, as a member of the Council of Europe and of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, has committed itself to fully respecting fundamental rights, the rule of law and respect for human rights;
C. whereas these incidents indicating systematic neglect of human rights in Russia, and in particular the arrest, conditions of detention and subsequent death in custody of Sergei Magnitsky represent well documented and substantial evidence of violation of fundamental human rights;
D. whereas, despite the 2011 conclusions of the inquiry conducted by the Russian President’s Human Rights Council on the illegality of Sergei Magnitsky’s arrest, detention and subsequent denial of access to justice, the investigations are stalled and the officials involved have been exonerated and even assigned to the posthumous case; whereas such actions on the part of the authorities demonstrate the politically motivated nature of Magnitsky’s prosecution;
E. whereas the European Union as well as many international and Russian NGOs have urged the Russian authorities on many occasions and formats, from regular human rights consultations to summit-level meetings, to conduct thorough independent investigations specifically on this well-documented case, and to put an end to the current climate of impunity;
F. whereas in addition to the most prominent case of Sergei Magnitsky, a multitude of other juridical cases exist documenting abuse of powers by the Russian law enforcement authorities, heavily violating the rule of law, and using systematically the pretext of economic crimes and alleged corruption for eliminating business competitors or political rivals;
G. whereas visa restrictions and other restrictive measures constitute a political signal of the EU’s concern to a larger target audience and thus remain a necessary and legitimate foreign policy tool;
H. whereas EU sanctions on the Magnitsky case could prompt the Russian authorities to make genuine and fresh efforts to address, in a more concrete and convincing manner, the broader question of the rule of law in Russia and the current climate of impunity;
I. whereas several national parliaments of EU Member States – among them Italy, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Poland – have already passed resolutions urging their governments to introduce sanctions on the Magnitsky case, while several other national parliaments, such as those in Portugal, France, Spain and Latvia, are at the initial drafting stage for such sanctions;
1. Calls on the EU:
(a) to impose sanctions on Russian authorities for disregard of human rights and basic freedoms, in particular in relation to the well-documented Magnitsky case;
(b) to establish a common EU list of officials responsible for the death of Sergei Magnitsky, for the subsequent judicial cover-up and for the ongoing and sustained harassment of his mother and widow; to implement an EU-wide visa ban on the responsible officials and to freeze any financial assets they or their immediate family may hold inside the European Union;
(c) to remind the Russian authorities that a modern and prosperous society needs to recognise and protect the individual and collective rights of all its citizens;
(d) to urge the Russian authorities to guarantee systematic safeguard of human rights and basic freedoms, to put an end to the widespread corruption and to reform the judicial system, and bring it into line with international standards, by creating an independent, just and transparent system that cannot, under any circumstances, be misused for political reasons;
(e) to urge Russia to conduct a credible and independent investigation encompassing all aspects of this tragic case, and to bring all those responsible to justice, and conduct transparent and thorough investigations of all murder cases of Russian activists and lawyers linked to the democratic opposition as for instance the disappearing and murder of several prominent figures like the double homicide of Stanislav Markelov and Anastasia Baburova or the Nataliya Estemirova case;
(f) to systematically raise, in the course of bilateral meetings with Russian authorities, the issue of rampant neglect of human rights, as well as the issue of intimidation and impunity in cases involving human rights defenders, journalists and lawyers, in a more determined, resolute and result-oriented manner.
2. Calls on the Green Members of all European national parliaments that have not yet done so:
(a) to table resolutions urging their governments to impose sanctions (e.g. freezing financial assets) to Russia for the neglect of human rights and basic freedoms, in particular in relation to the Magnitsky case;
(b) to remind the Russian authorities that a modern and prosperous society needs to recognise and protect the individual and collective rights of all its citizens;
(c) to urge the Russian authorities to guarantee systematic safeguard of human rights and basic freedoms, to put an end to the widespread corruption and to reform the judicial system, and bring it into line with international standards, by creating an independent, just and transparent system that cannot, under any circumstances, be misused for political reasons.
3. Takes the view that the recent sentencing of three members of the feminist punk collective Pussy Riot to two years in a penal colony for "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred" is part of a clampdown on political dissent and opposition forces that further shrinks Russian democratic space and deeply undermines the credibility of Russia's judicial system; strongly condemns this politically-motivated verdict and expects this conviction to be overturned in appeal with the release of all three Pussy Riot members, and all other prisoners of conscience as for instance Michail Khodorovsky.
4. Underlines that the commitment of the Russian authorities to basic values such as the rule of law, and respect for human rights and basic freedoms, remains the main prerequisite for EU-Russia relations and for the development of a stable and reliable partnership between the two parties.
5. Urges the Council of Europe to make Russia, as a full member of the Council of Europe and therefore committed to the principles of democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights, accountable for its behaviour; to make clear to the Russian authorities that the recent worrying developments taking place in Russia are incompatible with the fundamental values upon which this organisation is based and to take in due account, therefore, the possibility to suspend the participation of the Russian Federation in the activities of this body until these questions are fully addressed in a satisfactory manner.
6. The EGP will present this resolution to the Russian EU-Embassy in Brussels.
|Possible EU sanctions on Russia for the neglect of human rights (as adopted).pdf||1.43 MB|