Ska Keller: We need more transparency in EU decision-making and strong citizen’s participation

nterview with Ska Keller, Co-Chair of the Group of Greens/European Free Alliance, MEP with Bündnis 90/Die Grünen.

What is needed to establish a fair and successful system of refugees’ allocation within the EU member-states?

We Greens have long been campaigning for a fair and binding allocation key for asylum seekers among all Member States (see our proposal for a “Green Alternative to the Dublin System”). Greece and Italy cannot receive all the asylum seekers in Europe alone. It is shameful how stubborn some Member States are when it comes to solidarity and responsibility sharing. The EU should cut funding for returning rejected asylum seekers for those Member States which refuse take asylum seekers. Solidarity is not a one-way street. Member States which oppose solidarity when it comes to taking asylum seekers cannot expect solidarity when they want to send away migrants.

Lack of transparency is an issue of great concern for the European citizens. How the EU can efficiently address it and re-instate trust between decision-makers and the people?

Citizens have a right to be able to follow and scrutinize the negotiations for the laws that govern them. Yet, particularly the Council is often a black box. Council’s activities should be as transparent as European Parliament’s activities. Citizens and the media have a right to know which positions representatives of their government take in the Council. We Greens are also fighting for making the European Citizens’ Initiative a more powerful participatory instrument. The Commission has to take initiatives which are supported by more than one million citizens serious and translate them into a legislative proposal. We also need to strengthen the European dimension of EU elections. EU-wide electoral lists were unfortunately blocked by the Conservatives. But lead candidates are an important first step. They will provide the European elections with a face and give voters with a say on who should become the next president of the European Commission.

Do you believe that the EU can fully implement the goals of Paris Agreement on Climate Change?

The EU has set up ambitious goals for Europe. But it is clear that the Member States need to step up their efforts considerably to achieve those goals. We need to get out of fossil fuels in Europe and should definitely not start new coal or oil projects. We also have to keep in mind that climate change is also a social problem: the poorest are hit the most. Its worst impact will be felt by developing countries – the World Bank estimates that more than 140 million people will lose their homes until 2050 due to droughts, storm surges and rising sea levels. But also in Europe poor people will be affected more. They tend to live in areas less well protected from floods and will suffer more from water shortage during hot summers. Small-scale farmers will struggle more with adapting to climate extremes than agro businesses.

Across EU we are witnessing a surge on far-right parties. How can the left and progressive forces address this phenomenon, regain political ground and shift political balances in national and EU level?

Right-wing populists across Europe pursue the same strategy: they mask social problems with identity politics. Instead of focusing social inequalities and demanding social justice they play off the poor against foreigner. They suggest that openness and trade and only benefit “the others” and that migrants and refugees have not place in our societies. Left-wing parties must go on the offensive against this. We are not nationalists, we are Europeans, we are open to the world. But we have to find more convincing answers to globalisation and digitalisation. For me the key is to take the people serious and to empower them – as workers but also as consumers and citizens – so that they can better take control of their own destiny.

© European Progressive Forum

*The interview was conducted in the context of the European Progressive Forum two-day event in Athens (March 16-17 2018).
MEP Ska Keller participated in the event, providing valuable input in the wider debate of progressive alliances in the EU.

For more please visit the source here: European Progressive Forum