Rome: Greens go back to where it all started

Keywords  Italy An interview with Co-Chair Monica Frassoni on the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome.  European Green Party:  The European Union is facing an...
Keywords 

An interview with Co-Chair Monica Frassoni on the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome. 

European Green Party: 

The European Union is facing an existential crisis. With the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome, which  established the European Economic Community, we are facing a very decisive and divisive moment in European history. What is the position of the European Greens in this respect?

Monica Frassoni:

The Treaty of Rome was an historical act of “democracy building” over national sovereignty and against nationalism, which caused two world wars in three decades. Today, our generation has the opportunity to reaffirm that choice or to stop this process of democratization of our continent.

We, Greens, believe that this democratization process should entail a real debate at the European level; giving voice to European-level means of expression. One important step could be to finally elect MEPs on the basis of transnational lists, who would break the cycle of an MEP who only has, at heart, the specific interests of his own constituency, rather than those of European citizens at large. Although, at this point, we are so interconnected and interdependent that we all share similar concerns, problems and opportunities.

European Green Party: 

Several demonstrations will take place in the city of Rome on 24 and 25 of March, both in favor and against the European project. Are the Greens taking part in any of those initiatives?  

Monica Frassoni:

Nowadays, many citizens want to have a say on Europe. That’s a positive result, but it’s not enough. The different demonstrations in Rome will be a good opportunity to be confronted with different slogans and proposals on how to overcome the current crisis. We, Greens, affirm peacefully our trust in the European project, which has to be reformed and relaunched, but must not be destroyed; we still believe that an open society is a safer community, where bio-diversity means prosperity. That’s the EU we want to build and we stand for.    

European Green Party: 

The Bratislava Summit conclusions announced the approval of a road map in order to re-launch the European Union on the occasion of the European Council meeting, which will be held in Rome on 25 March 2017. What should we expect from it?

Monica Frassoni:

The new Rome Declaration should state two points. First of all, a strong political will to reform the European Union in order to build a stronger link between citizens and the EU institutional level. Secondly, we need a clear indication to move forward in some strategic policies, such as migration, social policy, and environment. For instance, we, Greens, believe that a pivotal reform should be the decisive shift towards the Green New Deal, bridging together the economic and ecological crises of our time: by insisting on the greening of our economy, it will be possible to foster employment and sustainable innovation. If we achieve these two points, after Rome, the EU Member States that want more integration in the fields where we have failed until today will be able to relaunch the European project with very concrete steps. In this new scenario, the European Parliament has to play a stronger role because, in a democracy, political decisions have to be clearly legitimized, especially when they affect sensitive aspects.

European Green Party: 

Nowadays, there are not many occasions for civil society and the citizens of Europe to mobilize themselves for symbolic and long-sighted fights and to push the European political leadership to finally take strong, necessary decisions. Do you have a message in this respect?

Monica Frassoni:

Detachment from civil society is exactly one of the ills plaguing the European project, and actions such as the CETA agreement certainly do not help in making Europeans feel like their voices and concerns are listened to. Many citizens have turned their back on the EU for this very reason, thinking that populists instead do reach out to them.

It could not be further from the truth. Progressive forces need and must reach out to those members of civil society who are still pro-EU, and there are many activists and many organizations out there. We need to build a united front, bringing together political forces, institutions and civil society.

Moreover, we, Europeans, are also citizens of the world. We don’t want to be ruled by external superpowers, either undemocratic, like China, or less democratic than yesterday, like the United States (if we take a look at the first decisions taken by the Trump administration). Divided, we are lost; united, we can continue to offer positive contributions in this globalized age, as we have done so far for human rights, energy policies and in the fight against climate change.

European Green Party: 

In his speech in the European Parliament, Austrian President Alexander van der Bellen said: “The European idea is great, it’s unique, it’s worth all the effort”. What effort will the Greens make in short and medium term?

Monica Frassoni:

Van der Bellen proved that you can be pro-European and still beat populists; still win elections. This is exactly what we aim at: to show that there are alternatives to populists and authoritarian movements. We want to make our voices heard at the local and national level and are already working towards the 2019 European elections. At the end of his speech, Van der Bellen quoted a beautiful poem by Sarah Williams, which is the perfect key to understand the times we are living in:

Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light; I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.

European Green Party: 

The 1957 Treaty Establishing the European Community contained the objective of “ever closer union” in its preamble. In English, the wording they chose is: “Determined to lay the foundations of an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe”. Article 2 of the same Treaty also promoted the “spirit” of a closer union in the description of the aims of the Community, ending with “closer relations between the states belonging to it”. Where do the Greens stand in this respect?

Monica Frassoni:

Greens stand resolutely in favor of an ever closer union. We believe that the EU integration process is still an unfinished business, in terms of efficiency and democracy, and in terms of concrete policy fields where the EU must act together and in a spirit of reciprocal solidarity, such as migration, welfare orsecurity.

We believe that this ever closer union must be among peoples. We do not agree with the idea that the only constituent parts of the EU are its Member States: we are convinced that there is a space of initiative and participation of people, not just the European Parliament, but also European Citizens Initiatives, such as campaigns against chemicals in agriculture and against land degradation.           

The signing of the Treaty of Rome in 1957. Photo via the European Commission Audiovisual Service.

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Source: verdi europei

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