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Green Blog posted a article in Business & PoliticsEvery year around 100 billion plastic bags are manufactured, sold and used on the European market. In 2010, there was 200 plastic bags for each person living in Europe. As one can imagine, many of these plastic bags end up as litter in nature where they pollute the environment, especially aquatic ecosystems, and harm wildlife. But this past Tuesday, the European Union moved one step closer to reduce the use of plastic bags in Europe. It was the European Parliament which voted in favor of a proposal from the European Commission to reduce the consumption of lightweight plastic bags by half in 2017 and by 80 percent in 2019, compared to 2010 levels. It’s hoped that the so-called light bags, which are mainly used to wrap up loose food, will gradually be replaced by biodegradable and compostable bags by 2019 in Europe. The vote, however, was just the first reading of the bill and the future of this legislation will be decided on after the upcoming European Parliament elections at the end of May. “MEPs have today voted to significantly strengthen draft EU rules aimed at reducing plastic bag use and waste, notably to include obligatory European reduction targets and a requirement that plastic bags come at a cost,” said Margrete Auken, a Danish MEP who is a member of the Green group, shortly after the vote. “As front-running countries have demonstrated, dramatically reducing the consumption of these disposable bags is easily achievable with a coherent policy.” This reduction could be achieved by imposing taxes or fees on plastic bags, issuing advertising rules or even banning the use of plastic bags in certain shops. But it will be up to each member state to enforce their own rules and guidelines. This legislation advocates for a mandatory charging of carrier bags in the food sector and a recommendation to charge for plastic bags in the non-food sector. “The huge and growing consumption rates of plastic bags - 100 billion bags per year in the EU alone - demonstrates a reckless waste of resources. Plastic bags are a symbol of our throw-away society and unsustainable lifestyles,” said the European Commissioner for Environment Janez Potocnik in a statement. “We use them for a few minutes, but their legacy lasts for hundreds of years, often as harmful microscopic particles that are damaging the environment worldwide, especially the marine environment. In the North Sea, the stomachs of 94 percent of all birds contain plastic,” Potocnik added.
Ska Keller, from Germany, and José Bové, from France, have been selected to lead the European Green Party in their upcoming European campaign. After closing the polls yesterday, the election result was presented at a press conference earlier this morning. "I’m looking forward to an enthusiastic election campaign, for the whole of the European Union," Ska Keller said during today's press conference. "It will be our task as top candidates to bring a European dimension to the national Green campaigns." "In our campaign, we Greens will be clear about what our Green alternatives are for Europe: a fair and Green way out of the crisis, putting youth unemployment on the top of the agenda, protecting the rights of refugees and migrants, fair trade not free trade, more ambitious climate targets, and more democracy," Keller said. The European Green Party, which is a transnational political party consisting of 40 green parties from throughout the European Union, asked people whom shared their "values" to choose their party's two green leading candidates for the upcoming European Elections, which are held between 22 and 25 May later this year. This was the first ever Europe-wide online election for a parliamentary group in the European parliament. But the election had quite a low voter turnout with only 22,676 people participating. It's therefore doubtful that the result is representative for the members of the green parties in Europe.
Simon Leufstedt posted a article in Business & PoliticsThe European Green Party, which is a transnational political party consisting of 40 green parties from throughout the European Union, are asking you to choose the two green leading candidates for the upcoming European Elections which are held between 22 and 25 May this year. This is the first ever Europe-wide online election for a parliamentary group in the European parliament. José Bové, Monica Frassoni, Rebecca Harms and Ska Keller are the four contenders in the Green Primary and have participated in live-chats and debates in several European cities, such as Berlin, Prague and London. All four of them are green politicians from across the EU who want to represent the Greens on a European level in the European elections 2014. Before they become contenders of the Green Primary, they were nominated by their national Green party and their candidacy had to be supported by at least four Green parties from across the EU. In an effort to counteract declining trust in the EU, the European Greens wants to give people a stronger voice in European decision-making. And they see the Green Primary as a way to reinvigorate European democracy. “This is an important step in European democracy,” EGP Co-Chair Reinhard Bütikofer MEP said. “Amidst the declining trust in EU institutions, we need new ideas. The Greens are the first to invite citizens to select our two leading candidates in an open Europe-wide online primary. Our innovative e-democracy project promotes the idea of giving Europe back to the people.” Voting ends tomorrow (Janurary 28) at 18:00 CET. So if you are an EU citizen, over the age of 16, and you share “the values, goals and work of the European Green Party” you can help choose the two leading candidates for the European Green Party. To vote, just go to www.greenprimary.eu and register. You will need an email address and a mobile phone. You can also vote with your smartphone or tablet. The contender with the highest number of votes will be elected. The second winner will be the person with the next highest number of votes who is from another national list to ensure that the two leading candidates represent different parts of Europe. Meet the four candidates: Rebecca Harms My political work began in 1975 in the German anti-nuclear movement. As Co-Chair of the Greens/EFA Group in the EU Parliament, I have always fought hard for our ideals and aims. The continuing dispute over energy transition and climate protection tells me that we Greens, being a relatively small party, need not just passion, but a lot of patience for our big ideas. This also applies to Europe. We want and we need to take new steps on the path towards political union. We need passion and patience to regain the trust of the people for this idea. In our European campaign, I want to speak out against shortsighted policies and campaign for sustainability, solidarity and a good quality of life. Learn more about Rebecca Harms. Ska Keller I grew up in the Eastern Bloc, but have lived Europe for as long as I can remember. Anti-racism and internationalism became guiding principles as I worked on cross-border solidarity in my home on the Polish border. Young Greens and Green Parties of Europe spoke to this in a way that never quietened, but still calls me today. For our shared environment, for a united Europe of peace and freedom, capable of facing social, economic and international challenges, for the things that hold us together. A Europe of solidarity of generations and regions; for all people, against austerity. With your support, I will campaign in all parts of Europe to convince people that now is the time to vote green. Learn more about Ska Keller. José Bové Member of the European Parliament since 2009, I am first of all, a farmer of the world. On the Larzac, where I milked sheep for years, I struggled to save my land against the army. From Seattle to Porto Alegre, with NGOs, I claimed that our world is not for sale! Since 1970, when my opposition to nuclear power started, my life has been guided by ecology. I fought GMO with civil disobedience and ended up in jail, but in the end, we secured their banning. Years of mobilisation forced the French government to ban fracking. With the Greens, I am ready to be one of the 2 leading candidates for 2014 for an ecological Europe, the only subversive dream which empowers citizens and protect our planet. Learn more about José Bové. Monica Frassoni To restore our self-confidence and have a positive influence on world affairs, we have to transform the next EP Elections into a real competition. We must do it noisily by stirring controversies and debates with the other parties, by mobilising our members and finding new support. We have to convince citizens that they have a say in EU affairs and that, unless they speak up, EU will split again. If they don't, we will not solve the crisis and our collective irrelevance will be inevitable. My decision to run in this Primary stems from an ambition to participate in a team with the other contenders to make our proposals visible and credible across the EU, well ahead of the EU elections. Learn more about Monica Frassoni.
Simon Leufstedt posted a article in Business & PoliticsGreen political parties from across Europe made a successful European parliament election this past week. The European Greens gained 11 new seats in the parliament and will now have a total of 46 Green MEPs, an increase with 31%. The Greens/EFA Group is now likely to have 53 MEPS (46 Greens and 7 EFA MEPs). "To have increased the number of Green MEPs from 35 to 46 is a great success. Our showing is even more remarkable when you consider that we have 11 more seats than before in a parliament with 49 fewer MEPS and that all other groups have shrunk", said EGP Co-Spokesperson Philippe Lamberts, who has been elected a MEP for the Belgian French-speaking Green Party Ecolo. In France the green political party Europe-Ecologie gained 16% of the votes and will thus send 13 green MEPs to the European parliament. Belgium, Germany, Sweden, Denmark and Finland are other countries where the greens will receive more MEPs than from the last EU election. In Greece 3.48% of the people voted for Ecologoi-Prasinoi and as a result Greece will be able to send their first green MEP to the European Parliament. "The Greek Greens' campaign demonstrated European solidarity as an Austrian-Greek Green stood as a candidate to support the Greek party". "What our 31% increase in seats proves beyond any shadow of a doubt is that the Greens are a major political force to be reckoned with and that we are gaining the trust of more and more voters, not only in our traditional areas like the environment and climate policy and human rights, but also economics and social policy", Lamberts said. The greens across Europe will together and stronger than ever work hard to gain support in the parliament for their â‚¬500 billion new Green Deal which will help solve the economic crisis and save our climate. EGP Co-Spokesperson Ulrike Lunacek, who was also elected a MEP for the Austrian Greens and managed to maintain their 2 seats despite heavy waves of rightwing populism, thanked all the people who dared to "Think Big, Vote Green". "We will fight hard on their behalf for a Green New Deal for Europe, which was at the heart of our common election campaign and obviously appealed to many voters, including many who had never voted Green before," she said. "The Green New Deal would not only create 5 million new Green-Collar jobs in 5 years but would also help fight climate change as 500 billion Euros of public and private funds would be invested in renewables, energy efficiency and other future-oriented technologies". I am happy to see that the Greens has a growing support among the voters across Europe, and that they will with the support of the voters get at least 10 more seats in the EU parliament. And I am happy to see that Sweden (for now) isn't taking part in the Europe-wide trend of sending far-right extremist, racists and anti-democratic political parties to the European Parliament.