The first of two Green Primary debates scheduled to take place in Germany was held in Northrhine-Westphalia on Sunday, watched by a live audience of over 200 local Greens. The event, which was also streamed online, took place in the historic city of Cologne which is at the centre of Europe. According to debate organisers Bündnis 90/Die Grünen NRW, “although the European Union is suffering a major crisis at the moment, we are still strongly convinced that European problems can only be solved by the people living in Europe working together.”
The debate was split between different sections: ecology and energy, democracy and social justice, and what is the EU's role in the world. People online were invited to ask questions through Twitter, while audience members could submit questions in person.
Energy transition, an important theme in the recent German elections, was a hot topic of conversation. All three Contenders agreed that it was important for Europe's environmental and economic future that a comprehensive transition towards renewables happens sooner rather than later. “The political will is still lacking,” said Rebecca Harms sounding a realistic note.
Contenders also debated democracy, focusing on privacy in the wake of information released by Edward Snowden, and trade relationships. The proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership raises some interesting questions on how Europe handles its own data. According to Ska Keller, the agreement must not be signed without strict rules on what the US can do with European data.
The debate soon shifted onto European migration policy. The Dublin convention (which limits the rights of migrants in where they choose asylum in the EU), new boarder control methods and the recent tragedy off Lampedusa were focused on, with a consensus that Europe needs to be more open. “We cannot, should not and will not close our boarders,” said Monica Frassoni.
This week, you have two chances to ask questions to some of our contenders directly. Ska Keller will take part in a live chat on the EGP Facebook Page from 18h30 CET on Tuesday 3 December, while José Bové will do the same a week later on 10 December. The next debate between Contenders takes place on 15 December in Gothenburg, Sweden.
It will be livestreamed on greenparty.europeangreens.eu.