Wednesday, 14 May 2014

The Helvetic example: How to achieve green policies without the EU

Ladies and gentlemen, I am in no doubt about the fact the EU membership has helped Britain get some green achievements and helped Britain commit to some type of reduction in carbon emissions. However, the EU's Common Agricultural Policy and Common Fisheries Policy are two of its main environmental blackspots, especially regarding the discards issue the CFP has created.

However, I am also in no doubt that if the European Parliament's MEPs pass the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), all those environmental gains made by the EU will eventually be undone, especially when companies use Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) to sue nations basically over any regulations, including environmental regulations, that cause them to lose profits, meaning that in practice further environmental laws cannot be implemented, and it may be very difficult if not impossible to ban new chemicals found to be harmful. For this reason and others, I believe withdrawal from the EU will be Britain's best option to save itself if the TTIP ever passes.

In case Britain does indeed withdraw from the EU sometime within the next decade, I can tell you that we can still achieve Green policies outside the EU- and there is no better example of a non-EU country achieving green policies than the country of Switzerland.

In the past 20 years, Switzerland has achieved early on conservation of its forests, a ban on motor traffic in the centres of important cities like Geneva, and most recently, its voters voted in favour of a basic income for all Swiss citizens-the basic income is a key Green idea. It has also been better able to protect its agriculture and help it become more sustainable due to the fact that the EU's CAP cannot affect Switzerland, or other non-EU nations such as Norway and Iceland, which are also pleased to be free from the CFP as well. The OECD has also praised them for their pollution-reducing achievements and effective implementation of green taxes.  The direct democratic parts of Switzerland's constitution have been instrumental in achieving many of these green policies due to the fact Swiss governments are normally quite socially and fiscally conservative.

So in case TTIP passes (we will do our best to stop it) and Britain then ends up having to leave the EU to protect itself from multinational corporations' greed, do not worry- the Helvetic example I have cited above is one we can use to help achieve sustainable and green policy outside the EU's influence.



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