We’re working hard for the Common Good in Europe, say Greens

The Greens in Europe are working really hard for the common good. That’s the end-of-year assessment by Molly Scott Cato, who has just completed her first six months as an MEP for the South West. She said:

Molly in Brussels
Molly in Brussels

“I am really delighted to have joined a group of MEPs who are working so constructively to bring about positive change in Europe. It is great to have witnessed at first hand how our group is leading the way on reform and helping to create a fairer Europe; one that works for its citizens, rather than a Europe driven by a corporate agenda working for the wealthy few.”

Molly Scott Cato was elected in May and is the first Green MEP for the South West. She points to a host of Green achievements which include leading the political opposition to the US-EU TTIP trade deal; an agreement to curb excessive payment card fees; pushing through a historic deal on tackling plastic waste; and the cap on bankers’ bonuses, which although challenged by George Osborne, was upheld by the European Courts. Greens have also long supported the official recognition of the state of Palestine and, as well as helping secure a vote for that, Green proposals for a ‘Parliamentarians for Peace’ initiative was also agreed by MEPs.

“These are all areas where Greens have taken the initiative; persuading others of a common sense approach based on social, economic and environmental justice.”

Greens have also had their disappointments. They strongly opposed the appointment of particular Commissioners. In particular they opposed former financial sector lobbyist, Lord Hill, being given the financial services portfolio, and former oil businessman Miguel Arias Cañete, being given responsibility for Climate Action and Energy. Molly Scott Cato also opposed the election of Jean Claude Juncker himself as Commission President. However, the agreement by the outgoing Commission to back the financial deal for Hinkley C nuclear reactor was the greatest disappointment so far for Dr Scott Cato. She said:

“There are enormous economic and environmental opportunities offered by renewable energy technologies in the South West. I am hopeful that we will yet be able to save energy innovation in our region from the threat posed by this hugely expensive, and legally dubious, subsidy for nuclear.”

There are also issues where Greens have initiated action, but have failed so far to gain enough support from other groups. As a member of the Economics Committee in the European Parliament with special responsibility for tax affairs, Dr Scott Cato has led the call for a Parliamentary Inquiry into the ‘LuxLeaks’ tax avoidance scandal. In the autumn, Luxembourg authorities were exposed as having helped ‘facilitate’ tax evasion by a number of large corporations and Greens have called for a powerful Committee of Inquiry. This requires the support of at least 188 MEPs; around 25 more are needed. Molly Scott Cato said:

“This is a critical moment to galvanize the fight against tax evasion in Europe and beyond and an Inquiry would provide the impetus to do just that. It is shameful that so far Labour and Conservative MEPs have failed to match their rhetoric on cracking down on tax evasion with action by supporting this Green initiative. We believe that the Commission must now set out a comprehensive plan of action to include an extension of country-by-country tax reporting, along with competition policy and EU state aid rules being used to their full potential to crack down on tax dumping. I am confident that in the New Year we will gain the support to push through such an Inquiry, marking yet another Green success story.”

Molly Scott Cato concluded: “If Greens can achieve this much in just six months, imagine what we can do in 2015.”