At a party convention on 1-2 March, Socialistisk Folkeparti, the Danish Greens, voted to apply for full membership of the European Greens. SF, who joined the EGP as an observer party in November 1998 at our council meeting in London, are hoping to return Margrete Auken to the European Parliament in May. The party, who made the difficult decision to leave the Danish government earlier in the year, are hoping for a strong campaign where they can once again prove that they are an important voice in Danish politics.
The event also saw a new SF Executive Committee chosen - congratulations to everyone who was selected!
In an inspiritng speech to the conference, new party chair Pia Olsen Dyer said, "dear friends. We have a good opportunity to take our party back. But it requires a joint effort. We have a duty as a party on the left. We need to ensure results. We need to change the world, not just talk about it. We must act for the here and now. And we must do it together!"
Her words were echoed by European Green leading candidate Ska Keller, who said, "the elections in May will be a milestone. It depends on every one of us to make Europe a better place. And we’re not fighting alone. Greens from Finland to Spain; from Ireland to the Czech Republic are fighting for a Greener Europe. Together we are strong and together we can do it!"
Read the full text of Ska's speech below.
Thank you for inviting me. I’m extremely happy to be here just at the same day as you hopefully will decide to join the European Greens. This would be a very happy moment for me. With you, the Green family would win a new member that belongs to the strongest green parties in Europe. From you experience, a lot of other green parties can learn.
You would take this decision in a year in which we will hold very important European elections. Elections that will decide on how we get out of the crisis, if Europe goes for more backroom deals or more democracy. More blind austerity or social justice. A Fortress Europe or an open Europe.
But 2014 is not only election time. It’s also time for memories.
In 2014, we have a lot to remember. We remember 100 years since the First World War, whose every depressing step towards the Second World War with its atrocities and genocide will be commemorated. And where we are gathered today, we have the 150th anniversary of the second German-Danish war. Yet another one of these national wars. Another example of the relentless building of state and nation through reckless military force. Communities and people built one against the other. The “laws of arms” before “the arms of law”.
All these wars are the reasons why our forefathers and mothers started building our “European Community”. A community that wouldn’t be built against somebody, against an enemy, like too many nations before. A European Community whose enemy; whose “other”, is not another country, another power or an “Other” like Islam.
The “other” of Europe is its past.
Europe has built itself on its cemeteries. Europe has built itself on the reconciliation of old enemies. On scaring off the ghosts of Europe’s past.
If there is a sense to these celebrations of our shared European history, it has to be: “let us not forget”. All of us – all generation, all communities, all nations in the EU and beyond. Let us not forget why we built this Community. Why we do not want to abandon it to those whose dreams of domestic interest, national pride and nationalism are threatening it. Let the demons rest in the past.
“United in diversity”, the motto of the European Union – it means what can each of our nations, each of our cultures, each of our political experience bring to the common pot? How can we make the whole better with the best of its parts? Europe is not about harmonisation and standardization into one-size-fit-all solutions. It’s about “togetherness”. It’s about expanding and enhancing our rights together. It’s about taking the best of each to reinforce each other and the whole.
And what could Denmark bring into the pot? I can think of a few examples:
- the idea that everybody is at the same level, nobody is better than the other
- the sense of common good, of contributing to society and the general interest;
- the meaning of transparency in public life
- and certainly also the limits of social-democrats… when it comes to transforming the system and make it really fair and socially just.
Those experiences are much needed in the European Parliament. Therefore, I would love to see more people from SF in the European Parliament! And if all of you are as full of energy and enthusiasm as Margrete is, than I’m sure that this wish will come true!
And it really needs you as part of a strong green force in Europe to get things right.
This European election will decide about how we get out of the crisis and if Europe can be more than just a single market; if it can be also a social Europe.
Let’s not forget, we’re still in the middle of a crisis with deep consequences for the people and their social rights. People in Greece can’t pay their medicines and child mortality is going up. People in Spain are thrown out of their houses. Youth unemployment is reaching up to 60% in some regions of Europe.
It needs our Green ideas to get us out of the crisis. Blind austerity has led us nowhere. Yes, reforms are needed, but what sort of reform is that, when the Troika demands cutting the salaries of teachers and the small pensions of people who worked all their life?
Reforms are much more needed in closing tax loopholes, in creating more equality in society, in making also the rich contribute!
And yes, this might take longer than firing teachers, but it’s certainly more sustainable.
We Greens combine social justice with environmental justice. Because social justice cannot work if we’re not also caring about people’s possibility to live in a healthy environment, to live in a sustainable way, to afford Green energy.
The jobs that we want to create in Europe are Green jobs. They have to be green, because only if we invest into the ecological modernisation of economy will we create jobs that are still there in 20 years. Only if we invest in common goods like education and health are we creating the quality jobs that benefit society.
Social issues are at the heart of all Greens. Because we put people at the core of our thinking; we put people before banks.
It is the industrial sector’s workers and employees, as well as the innovative and creative entrepreneurs who will be the engine of the development of renewables, the conversion of the automotive industry, the urban renovation combined to the fight against fuel poverty, the de-pollution industry and all these new employments, whether qualified or not, that are brought about by the potential re-industrialisation of our European territories.
"The Green transformation" is an industrial project but one for a post-industrial society.
And even as a small group in the European Parliament, we Greens were at the forefront of several important decisions, such as caps to bankers' bonuses and the establishment of financial supervision bodies. We successfully brought the ECB's banking supervision powers under parliamentary control. We were one of the driving forces behind the Financial Transaction Tax.
We introduced the idea of the youth guarantee at EU level and fought for the rights of posted workers. Thanks to our pressure, Small and Medium Enterprises will benefit from more research funds. More money will flow into renewables and energy efficiency. We also helped pave the way for flexibly reducing co-financing of regional funds for the Member States most hit by the crisis.
But we also had to face a lot of opposition. From the Member states, who prefer to defend their national interest rather than the Europeans’ general interest. The heads of government deliberately kept the European Parliament away from the decisions over the most important safeguard mechanisms against the crisis, such as the European Stability Mechanism. Blind austerity brought us deeper into the crisis and many people into poverty.
Let’s face it: for the sake of social justice we need more Greens in this Parliament!
As European Greens, we will put the green economy and social justice at the heart of our election campaign. We know, it needs strong greens to make Europe more social and it needs strong Greens to make Europe greener.
The elections in May will be a milestone. It depends on every one of us to make Europe a better place. And we’re not fighting alone. Greens from Finland to Spain; from Ireland to the Czech Republic are fighting for a greener Europe. Together we are strong and together we can do it!
Thank you very much and I’m looking forward to campaigning with you!