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Europe has to take on social and ecological challenges
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Clear commitment is essential in the European Parliament elections (22-25 May)

The negotiations of the free trade agreement between the United States and the European Union (TTIP) are symptomatic: held almost in camera and with intensive "advice" from the business lobby, new rules are to be established for "non-tariff barriers" - including labour conditions, environmental standards, food standards or the conditions in awarding government tenders.

Michael Müller, federal chairman of Naturefriends Germany, says "The TTIP would severely restrict the sovereign rights of the states involved, who would become the market's hostages. This would result in an aggravated economic crisis, in a growing social divide, in the ecology being pushed to the fringes and in a weakened democracy."

The elections to the European Parliament, held from 22 to 25 May 2014, will also decide whether Europe will be increasingly left to the markets or whether social, ecological and democratic standards will govern these markets. And then there are populist right-wing parties making use of this crisis to catch more votes, repeating xenophobic and protectionist slogans.

We need Europe to take on the social and ecological challenges of the 21st century. We need solidarity in Europe, a focus on job security, a pensions scheme, education and training instead of market orientation only. We need the rich to be forced to contribute to the public budget instead of banks and their risky trading being saved at the expense of the public budget and thus, at the expense of the population. We need active climate and environmental policies to curb climate change which has already begun, to secure sustainable and healthy alimentation by protecting the oceans, and we need to fight the errant industrialisation of agriculture.

Therefore, we need clear commitment from the citizens in the upcoming elections on the one hand, and on the other the programmes of the parties campaigning in the elections have to be closely scrutinised: whether they address the social and ecological challenges, or sacrifice the interests of the citizens on the altar of the "market", or whether they are just populist "vote hunters" that go their own, national ways - again at the expense of the voters.

Manfred Pils

President of Naturefriends International

 

Further information:
Naturefriends International supports the campaign 'Democratic Europe Now!’: The campaign calls for the initiation of a new EU Convention to work on strengthening democracy in Europe. The Convention – consisting of representatives of the member organisations – is the legal process for making substantive changes to the EU Treaties, and to be able to get real democratic reforms in the EU on the agenda.
To sign the petition: www.democraticeuropenow.eu

 

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