The Green party has recently had a difficult relationship with the European Union. On the one hand Karen Lucas - the sole Green party MP in the House of Commons - is decidedly if guardedly in favour of Britain remaining in the European Union. However she advocates the need for significant democratic reform as well as substantive changes of positions especially with regards to the balance between environmental issues and the power of business and industry lobbies in Brussels, seen as dominating current EU policies and practices. In a recent speech in the House of Commons Karen Lucas laid out in the clearest terms her position and that of a significant part of the Green party regarding EU membership:
"The EU has the potential to spread peace and make our economies more sustainable, and to promote democracy and human rights, at home and throughout the world. But it must urgently change direction, away from an obsessive focus on competition and free trade and towards placing genuine co-operation and environmental sustainability at its heart. Thanks to the bureaucratic and remote way in which the EU works, many people today are no longer sure what is it for. So the challenge now is to make those institutions more democratic and accountable - and to develop a more compelling vision of the EU's role and purpose”.
A sizeable wing of the Green party now believes that the European Union has been taken over the right-wing, free-market, anti-union business and industry interests and can no longer be salvaged. They have come to oppose Britain's continuing membership in the EU - not because it does too much but because it does not do enough to promote goals such as sustainability, fairness, social cohesion, and solidarity. Long-time environmental activist and author George Monbiot’s disillusioned comments at the top of this chapter illustrate best the position of these disillusioned young pro-Europeans who feel their concerns are ignored by all sides in the current EU debate and are left with no choice other than to abstain from voting or to reluctantly support the ‘stay in’ the EU side in the forlorn hope of drastic future reforms:
“The UK government champs and rears against the European rules that constrain it. It was supposed to have ensured that all our rivers were in good ecological condition by the end of last year: instead, lobbied by Big Farmer and other polluting businesses, it has achieved a grand total of 17%. On behalf of the motor industry, it has sought to undermine new European limits on air pollution, after losing a case in the supreme court over its failure to implement existing laws. Ours is the least regulated labour market in Europe, and workers here would be in an even worse fix without the EU. On behalf of party donors, old school chums, media proprietors and financial lobbyists, the government is stripping away any protections that European law has not nailed down. The EU’s enthusiasm for treaties such as TTIP is exceeded only by Cameron’s. His defence of national sovereignty, subsidiarity and democracy mysteriously evaporates as soon as they impinge upon corporate power. I believe that we should remain within the union. But we should do so in the spirit of true scepticism: a refusal to believe anything until we have read the small print; a refusal to suspend our disbelief. Is it possible to be a pro-European Eurosceptic? I hope so, because that is what I am.”