Rebecca Harms: Better regulation a 'worrying statement of EU's priorities'

Finding common ground with the Commission can prove tricky at times, but the Greens remain optimistic, especially ahead of the 'make or break' COP21 summit in Paris, says Rebecca Harms.

By Julie Levy-Abegnoli

11 Sep 2015

It's not always easy for Parliament's smaller groups to make their voices heard. Greens/European Free Alliance (EFA) co-chair Rebecca Harms feels that "the Commission has displayed a clear preference for working with the so-called 'grand coalition' of the European People's Party/Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, albeit with the occasional liberal mudguard."

"However, we remain optimistic and hope we will find common issues to work on over the next four years."

For the Greens, "the ongoing moves towards an energy union will be a top priority. To this end, we want to ensure the focus is on sustainable and future-oriented energy sources and systems. This means facing down the ongoing moves to revive dirty fossil fuels and risky nuclear power."


However, Harms says that "the Juncker Commission's 'better regulation' initiative is little more than a euphemism for scrapping important social and environmental legislation. It has left a bad aftertaste and is a worrying statement of this Commission's priorities".

Last year, MEPs failed to agree on a joint resolution on the college's work programme for 2015, following proposals to scrap clean air and waste legislation.

World leaders are set to convene at the UN COP21 climate summit in Paris later this year, something the Green MEP sees as "a make or break moment. The EU will need to seriously up its ambition if it is to play a leading role at the conference."

"Sadly, instead of encouraging EU policies and laws that promote win-win sustainable development, the European Commission is scrapping important laws under the banner of better regulation."

"Unfortunately, many of the challenges facing the EU persist. Addressing the malfunctions of the common currency and the consequences for countries such as Greece remains one of the top priorities. This means continuing the process of creating an economic and monetary union and tackling unmanageable debt burden", says Harms.

She warns that "reckless flirting with 'Grexit' could fatally undermine the EU. European leaders need to take a clear stand on the integrity of the euro. The EU response needs to focus much more on the social and humanitarian crisis in Greece, and on providing a viable economic perspective for the country."

Continuing on the topic of EU exits, Harms says "it is deeply regrettable that the British political establishment has sleepwalked its way into a possible 'Brexit'."

"The EU is nothing without a unity of purpose among all its members. It would clearly be a serious setback if a major member state was to leave. All responsible political actors - both within Britain, across Europe and beyond - need to make a positive and energetic case to prevent a 'Brexit'."

"This has been yet another unhelpful distraction preventing Europe from addressing the real challenges it faces. However, moving on will be one positive to emerge, whatever outcome the referendum yields."

One of the most pressing issues for EU policymakers is the ongoing refugee crisis. Harms sees this as "a result of the short-sighted and irresponsible refusal by member states to coordinate on immigration and asylum policy. We need a total shift of thinking, addressing the issues that force people to leave their countries of origin."

"We also need to create a fair and functioning asylum system providing proper legal routes for migration and more protection for those refugees who continue to take dangerous journeys."

Nevertheless, she did praise "the clear way in which Juncker has been addressing the need for an ambitious common strategy on asylum and migration".


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