Following an increasing number of flooding incidents across Europe MEPs asked for an annual report from the Commission on flood prevention. This gave Molly an opportunity to use experiences learned from last winter’s floods in the South West and give a Green perspective on tackling flood alleviation and flood prevention. She spoke to the Parliament:
“As Greens, we call for three elements of a responsible flood policy. First there needs to be adequate investment in the infrastructure that prevents flooding, and we must not allow austerity cuts to increase the risk as our communities become inundated.
“We also need to take a whole-catchment approach and consider how our farming practices have reduced the land’s ability to absorb rainfall for longer before it drains into the river. Land management that involves maintaining hedges and trees and using organic methods that reduce soil run-off should be prioritised in the CAP subsidiary scheme.
“Thirdly, we must make explicit the link between flooding and climate change and be reminded by flooding incidents across Europe of the urgent need to agree meaningful carbon-dioxide reductions at the COP 21 negotiations in Paris next year.”
New banking rules: propping up big, risky banks
The European Commission has adopted rules on how to calculate the contributions by banks to the EU’s banking resolution fund, established to help cover any costs associated with future banking failures. Greens fear that proposed levels of contributions, based on bank’s total assets rather than calculated according to the risk of their business, would prop-up bigger, riskier banks, at the expense of smaller, more stable banks like savings banks and cooperatives, which contribute to the real economy. Molly says:
“The European Parliament must now change the unfair approach proposed by the Commission. Their proposals will not effectively prevent risk-taking or put sufficient pressure on banks to operate in the social interest rather than seeking to maximise profits.”
Molly has had a response to her challenge to Joaquín Almunia, outgoing EU Competition Commissioner, on his recommendation that the financial deal for Hinkley C nuclear power station be given the green light. In his letter, Mr Alumunia claims the Commission’s investigation shows that supporting the deal ‘would address a genuine market failure’. Molly is now seeking clarification on what exactly this means but she is clear about the Greens ongoing opposition to the Hinkley financial deal:
“Nuclear has never existed in the market and has proved time and again that it is not economically viable; there are very few suppliers and no real competition. In the case of Hinkley the supplier is another government so no market competition at all. The real market is for renewables where there is real competition between suppliers and forms of technology. Renewables offer huge opportunities in the South West and this innovation is threatened by the unwarranted financial support the Commission is offering to nuclear.”
Concerns over ‘biodiversity offsetting’
Molly has jointly signed a letter to the Commission regarding an EU initiative: ‘No Net Loss of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services’ which expresses concerns that the proposals will allow ‘biodiversity offsetting’ as a means of justifying development projects that damage biodiversity.
Extract: Offsetting should not be used as a means of justifying development projects that damage biodiversity, and which would otherwise be rejected through the planning process. Offsetting amounts to an attempt to commodify nature. In the vast majority of cases it will be impossible to replace complex and important habitats; they cannot simply be offset. Full letter
The issue most frequently raised by South West constituents in the last two weeks has been that of EU subsidies for farms that raise Bulls for bull-fighting. The Greens put forward an amendment to the budget to end the subsidies but unfortunately this was not voted on by enough members of other groups to pass this time. However, a different motion on the principle of ending these subsidies in the future did pass.
‘Constituency week’ in Plymouth and Cornwall
Constituency weeks are those set aside during the Parliamentary year for work in MEPs constituencies. Molly has chosen to visit Plymouth and Cornwall this week. She was invited to unveil a plaque marking the first Passivhaus retrofit in Plymouth and attended a questions and answers session on what Europe can do for Plymouth.
It has been a busy couple of weeks for media appearances. Molly appeared on BBC Sunday Politics West to discuss the issue of air quality amongst other issues. She also appeared on BBC Daily politics, to discuss (yawn) UKIP and the collapse of EFDD, the group to which UKIP belong in the European Parliament. The collapse occurred because the group found themselves without members from enough different EU countries. UKIP salvaged the situation by drafting in a highly controversial member of the Polish Congress, who has reportedly said that men hitting their wives can “help them come back down to earth”. However, Molly points out that UKIP’s isolation in the EU will continue, as they use the Parliament as a stage to perform national politics which alienates serious MEPs. Finally, Molly was interviewed on BBC Radio Gloucester, on a new report claiming EU restrictions on pesticide use will see the demise of popular British crops like apples or carrots. Molly dismissed such scaremongering and on the back of the interview had a letter published in the Western Morning News