As the second hybrid event, the 33rd European Green Party Council reunited the Green family with events and actions occurring both virtually and in person. If you missed it, or just want to look back on your time with us, here's a summary of the two days!
Friday 28 May
The Council was opened by Evelyne Huytebroeck, Co-chair of European Greens, Meyrem Almaci, Co-chair of Groen, and Rajae Maouane, Co-chair of Ecolo – our Belgian member parties. It was followed by a Plenary Session on challenging Green stereotypes and several Parallel Sessions on biometric mass surveillance, the Greens' approach to developments in the European climate law and Fit-for-2030 Package, and the ongoing campaigns of the Greens/EFA Group in the European Parliament. In the much-awaited conversation between Annalena Baerbock and Vula Tsetsi, the candidate for the German Chancellorship revealed how she envisions a Green post-pandemic Europe.
Evelyne Huytebroeck, Meyrem Almaci, and Rajae Maouane's speeches emphasised the importance of this year for climate and the need for good ideas, expertise, and a growing Green presence to ensure that the EU doesn't step back from its commitments.
Caricaturing the Greens: A desperate move from competitors?
As Green parties grow as a political force, they face increasing attacks from across the political spectrum. In the Plenary Session, Green stereotypes were discussed between Green leaders Maria Ohisalo, Philippe Lamberts, Sandra Benčić, Grégory Doucet, Terry Reintke, and Ernest Urtasun who were interviewed by journalists and writers Tonia Mastrobuoni (Berlin correspondent for la Repubblica), Erika Solomon (Berlin correspondent for Financial Times), and Rokhaya Diallo. Through a series of discussions, they deconstructed assumptions about the Greens and spoke, among other issues, about their position on human rights, minority rights and foreign policy.
"Investing in public facilities has a cost. But what's the cost of not investing? What Green policies are about is to provide well-being to our inhabitants" says @GregoryDoucet the Green Mayor of Lyon at #EGP33— European Greens (@europeangreens) May 28, 2021
When asked about critiques that the Greens are elected by the majority but only govern for the minority, Terry Reintke replied: "The attacks on minority groups are far too often used as a guise to hide the dismantling of the basic principles of democracy and the rule of law. It is scapegoating that goes far beyond hurting people it is aimed at." She furthermore highlights that the fundamental rights that Greens defend are guarantees from our Constitutions and Treaties and that 'this is the promise of the Declaration of Human Rights'. Many speakers also affirmed that economic and social justice are at the core of a Green transition.
Annelena Baerbock in conversation with Vula Tsetsi
In the keynote session of the day, Annalena Baerbock, co-chair of the German Greens, Member of the Bundestag, and German Green Party candidate for Chancellor, was interviewed by Vula Tsetsi, a Committee member of the European Greens and Secretary-General of the Greens/EFA Group. They discussed the need for leadership during and after this crisis, especially in the context of the European Union.
"We are in the aftermath of the Eurocrisis of 2009, people are dying in the Mediterranean, and now a pandemic. Europe is crisis after crisis. People are looking at which Europe we can build, and how you could shape the project of the EU," – Vula Tsetsi
Annalena highlighted the crossroads that we are at, comparing it to the aftermath of World War II and the level of mobilisation needed to rebuild Europe. She emphasised the need for not only a carbon-neutral but also a just and fair economy: "We have everything in our hands to build a better future together", she says. In their conversation, Tsetsi and Baerbock touched on a variety of other issues, including foreign policy, human rights and the rule of law:
"Challenges to the rule of law do not only concern some Eastern European countries. There are also democratic parties who support undemocratic parties in other countries. We must stand for European values in north, south, east and west." – Annalena Baerbock
In her closing remarks, Annalena pointed at the people's demand for change: "There is a movement that is all over Europe, if not all over the world. There is a big majority that says: We need change, and we need change now."
Save The Green Deal - Street and Online Action
As a response to key pieces of the Green Deal being watered down in the last few months, we held a street action virtually and in person at Mont des Arts in Brussels to #SaveTheGreenDeal.
Yesterday for #EGP33, the Green family in Brussels gathered to ask the EU to #SaveTheGreenDeal 🌍🌱— European Greens (@europeangreens) May 29, 2021
The European Green Deal is being watered down & not on track to meet our climate commitments. But we can still save it & Greens are keeping up the fight! pic.twitter.com/ZA7MA2oJuX
To take part in the action remotely, you can still take a selfie with our protest filter available on Instagram and Facebook, sharing it with #SaveTheGreenDeal and tagging us!
Saturday 29 May
On the last day of the Council, Green member parties defined, with a high level of consensus, the political direction of the EGP for this new period. As the climate crisis impacts vulnerable communities the most, we also held a plenary session on 'Climate and Biodiversity', in which we had a wonderful discussion between youth movements, Global South activists and Green policymakers.
The Parallel Sessions featured discussions about the digital gender gap and digital feminism, biodiversity, the EU Recovery Fund, and how Green local leaders can act for quieter, safer and less polluted streets and public spaces. We also gave a demonstration of our Local Councillors platform, a new tool that connects Green councillors across Europe. It offers a space to share projects, events and ideas to enable more Green initiatives to be implemented!
Petra De Sutter, the Deputy Prime Minister of Belgium, gave a Keynote Speech highlighting the difference that the Greens make for citizens when they are in government. Mar Garcia, the Secretary General of the European Greens, closed the Council with words of gratitude to all those who took part and a special tribute to those born during the war or in the immediate post-war period; the generation who rebuilt Europe and whose "old age was disturbed, when not extinguished, by this pandemic."
11 Resolutions adopted; Catalunya en Comú joins the European Greens
In the event's voting session, Council delegates adopted 11 resolutions that were tabled by 14 member parties across Europe. The resolutions featured crucial topics such as the Future of Europe, European rail, Farm to Fork strategy, and fair distribution and global access to COVID vaccines.
Avui els i les Comuns hem estat acceptades com a #CandidateMembers als @europeangreens.— Catalunya En Comú (@CatEnComu) May 29, 2021
Posarem tots els esforços perquè els compromisos en matèria climàtica no es dilueixin. És el moment que la família verda lideri la construcció d'una Europa millor.@JessicaAlbiach 👇 pic.twitter.com/jouPc6lRKU
In addition, the member parties welcomed Catalunya en Comú (CeC), Catalonia (Spain), as a candidate member party to the European Green Party. "We want the Green wave to be a reality throughout Europe," said Jéssica Albiach . She added: "I am convinced we can bring an important contribution to help us strengthening the Greens in Southern Europe." With Catalunya en Comú, we are one step closer to a fairer, greener and feminist Europe."
Congratulations @BenniDeMarte, @j_feuerhahn, and @samuelgemurray on your election to our amendments committee at the 33rd Council Meeting. We wish you the best of success with your mandate! #EGP33 pic.twitter.com/r3lVe9xMHR— European Greens (@europeangreens) May 29, 2021
The delegates further elected three new candidate members to the EGP amendments committee. We congratulate Benedetta De Marte, Janik Feuerhahn and Sam Murray on their election. We also give a big thank you to Alexandra Medwedeff and Wouter Witteveen for their previous work in the Amendments committee.
Petra De Sutter speaking at the Council
Petra De Sutter recounted her political trajectory and the creation of the Vivaldi Government in Belgium, for which the Greens ensured gender parity. In her speech, she emphasised the need for an inclusive and sustainable COVID-19 recovery: "if a policy is sustainable but not social, it's not a Green policy". She mentions the creation of a transition fund of 750 million euros in Belgium for businesses part of the Green transition: "It's incredibly important that we use the European money as leverage for our own investments because we are now setting the scene for the economy and the industry of the next 20-30 years." De Sutter also highlighted that Belgium would be introducing new fiscal measures to Green all company cars by 2026 as well as investing in rail's accessibility to ensure that more people use trains as a mode of transport.
"We are fighting for equal opportunities for everyone", underscored Petra De Sutter. She highlighted the difference that Sarah Schlitz, Federal State Secretary of Belgium for Equal Opportunities and Diversity, has made through the revival of an anti-racism programme and her transversal approach: "In all our policies, she's watching, she's present." She also reaffirmed the Green fight for equal rights for women and men, for people with a disability, for refugees, and for LGBT people: "all over the country we are taking them aboard, leaving no one behind in our policies. This is in our DNA, and it is extremely important. Having Greens around that table makes a difference."
Lastly, she emphasised the importance of resilient and public healthcare systems: "The weakest element of the chain will determine the strength of the whole chain. We should strengthen all the healthcare sector in the EU to make sure that all the healthcare sectors are strong enough to be resilient in cases of crisis."
Youth movements, Global South activists and Green leaders discuss how to tackle the climate crisis
The Plenary Session on climate and biodiversity included a lively exchange between youth movements, Global South activists and Green policy makers. It was moderated by Thomas Waitz and featured Green leaders Beppe Sala, Pia Olsen Dyhr, Eleonora Evi, activists Elizabeth Wathuti, Tara Houska, Adélaïde Charlier, and Nyke Slawik, as well as spoken word artist Zaïre Krieger.
Beppe Sala, Mayor of Milan, emphasises that "Cities are at the frontline of our big challenges. Climate, inequalities, poverty, migration. Most importantly, the involvement and commitment of citizens can change our cities." Green MEP Eleonora Evi also underlined the importance of not only listening to citizens but also creating space for debate and exchange. Pia Olsen Dyhr furthermore highlighted that Green policies are social policies and that the transformation of our societies towards greener principles must also be just and fair.
Climate activist and Young Green Bundestag candidate Nyke Slawik highlighted that 'politics is more than parties and parliaments': "Politics is all of us. Citizens, parties, social movements. We need a broad coalition to address the climate crisis and hold all parties accountable." Tribal attorney and Indigenous rights defender Tara Houska noted the importance of Indigenous communities in this fight against climate change and recounted her latest fight against the Line 3 pipeline: "Indigenous communities around the globe see the fossil fuel industry expand and native land sacrificed to extractivism." Lastly, Youth for Climate leader Adélaïde Charlier emphasised that it is ultimately 'not normal' for youth to miss school due to lack of action on climate and urged politicians to take their responsibilities in the face of this crisis and represent the will of the people.
Closing of the Council
In her closing speech of the 33rd Council of the European Green Party, Mar Garcia, the Secretary General of the European Greens, spoke about the upcoming German election and its significance: "for the first time there is a real chance that a Green candidate, Annalena Baerbock, will be that person; the future chancellor of Germany."
Mar Garcia stressed that "giving hope and prospects for the future, especially to young people, is an urgent responsibility". She closed the council thanking all participants and looks forward to the 34th European Green Party Council to be held in Budapest this December.
Thank you for your participation in the Council and all those who helped us make it happen!