2 February 2016
Responding to the letter by EU President Donald Tusk to members of the European Council on proposals for a new UK-EU settlement, Green politicians have reinforced the party’s commitment to campaigning for the UK’s continued membership of the European Union.
Molly Scott Cato, Green MEP for the South West of England and Gibraltar and one of 50 Green/EFA MEPs in the European Parliament said:
“Today the focus has been on red cards, emergency brakes and negotiating a special deal in the narrow interests of the UK. But in the European Parliament today we witnessed the EU at its best; working in partnership for the common good for our continent as a whole.
“While our government is happy for a fracking free-for-all and wants to push GMO technology down consumer’s throats, members of the European Parliament overwhelmingly called on member states not to approve any fracking operations and to apply the precautionary principle to any GMO approvals. It also voted to oppose any revision of the Bird’s and habitats Directives.
“This has shown again that the European Union is a beacon to the rest of the world on standards of environmental protection, animal welfare and employment rights. These things are not red tape which challenge competitiveness but symbols of living in a civilised society. This is what makes me proud to be a European, and Greens will campaign whole-heartedly for the UK to remain a member of the European Union.”
Caroline Lucas, the Green Party MP for Brighton Pavilion said:
“It’s welcome that these protracted discussions seem to be drawing to a close and we can start talking about the bigger issues at the core of the EU referendum debate.
“Though I’m strongly opposed to Cameron’s desire to water down EU regulations, it’s clear that the vast majority of the protections we enjoy because of the EU will remain.
“Ultimately Britain is better off in Europe. Being in the EU creates jobs, protects our environment and allows us to work with our neighbours on the huge cross-border challenges we share. Indeed it’s heartening that only today MEPs voted to back a biodiversity strategy that reinforces the EU’s central role defending wildlife and nature in the UK.
“Even if we left the EU, we’d be deeply affected by the decisions made in Brussels. By remaining a member we have the opportunity to have our say and make the EU more democratic and accountable to people here in Britain.”
Lucas also spoke out against Cameron’s proposals to limit in-work benefits to EU citizens working in the UK.
“Taking away in-work benefits for EU citizens working in the UK is both unfair and unlikely to be effective. People who come here from other EU countries pay more in tax than they take out in public services. You won’t hear it from Government Ministers but the fact is that EU nationals are actually less likely to claim benefits than British people.
“Even in their watered down form, Cameron’s proposals will penalise those who contribute hugely to our society. Furthermore, cutting tax credits for EU Nationals will likely fail even on its own terms - given that the Government hasn't produced evidence to suggest that tax credits are a major draw for EU nationals who come to live here.”