In Europe, environmentalists face a political impasse

What will remain of the environmental group after the European elections of June 2024? Five years after their historic success in 2019, when the European Greens obtained 10% of the vote at Union level – an unprecedented score – it is doubtful that they will repeat this feat as political ecology is in decline. speed. Fourth force in the European Parliament, after the conservatives of the EPP, the socialists and the liberals of Renew, it is quite possible that they find themselves behind the populist eurosceptics of the ECR (dominated by the ultra-conservatives of the Polish PiS), even the extreme right of Identity and Democracy (ID where the National Rally and the German AfD sit in particular), two deeply climatosceptic groups which have the wind in their sails. A shame at a time of climate emergency!

This possible underperformance, since nothing is decided ten months before the elections, is explained by the difficulties encountered by the Grünen in Germany and EE-LV in France. Germans and French provide, in fact, the large battalions of this group of 72 deputies (out of 705), which also include elected regionalists, respectively 25 and 12 deputies, the 15 other national delegations having only one to three members… Therefore, if these two parties achieve a bad score, it would take a highly unlikely breakthrough by environmentalists in several other countries to compensate. However, the Grünen, in power in Berlin in coalition with the Social Democrats of the SPD and the Liberals of the FDP, are now relegated to fourth position in the polls (at 13%), crushed by the extreme right of the AfD which rose to second position, a long way from their score of 20.50% in 2019…

The ecological transition is no longer the sole concern of ecologists

In France, EE-LV, according to the polls, would also lose feathers (from 13.5% to 11%). And it is not certain that the head of the list that the party has chosen, the MEP Marie Toussaint, unknown on the French political scene and whose ability to embody an ecology of compromise, can be doubted, will succeed in arousing enthusiasm, as Daniel Cohn-Bendit and José Bové knew how to do in 2009 (more than 16% of the vote, the best score ever obtained by ecologists in France).

Above all, and we have clearly seen this during the current legislature of the European Parliament, the ecological transition is no longer the sole concern of ecologists, but is widely shared by conservatives, social democrats and the radical left. However, the environmental group, co-chaired by the Belgian Philippe Lamberts and the German Terry Reintke, has tripped over the carpet of radicalism. In July 2019, he refused to participate in the majority along with the EPP, the Socialists and Renew, which would have allowed him to influence the political choices of the Commission. Worse, he voted against the German Ursula von der Leyen, candidate for the presidency of the Commission, despite her promise to present a “Green Deal”, yet an ideological victory for environmentalists. More incomprehensibly, the group refused to vote for the climate law adopted in 2021, the founding text of the Green Deal which sets carbon neutrality in stone for 2050… ‘didn’t need them to bring together a majority,’ commented a member of the Renew group.

To make matters worse, the arrival in business of the Grünen in Germany, at the end of 2021, transformed the green group into a real technical group, Germans and French no longer agreeing on much: the first, faced with the exercise of power, are now pleading for compromise with the other political forces, while the latter have locked themselves into radicalism by asserting against all evidence that Europe is not doing enough to fight against climate change. Similarly, the Pavlovian anti-Macronism of the French, but also of the Belgian co-president Philippe Lamberts, was no longer acceptable for Germans obliged to work on good terms with the French government.

Locked in short-sighted political calculations

Dispossessed of their ecological business, the Greens could have played in favor of greater transparency and democracy within the Union, a field neglected by other political forces. But there too, locked in short-sighted political calculations, they missed the boat. Thus, they have observed, apart from a few exceptions such as the German deputy Daniel Freund, an astonishing silence during the various affairs which have splashed the Community institutions. Similarly, Philippe Lamberts did not hesitate to negotiate with the EPP, which wanted to keep the key post of Secretary General of Parliament for one of his own, the sulphurous Italian Alessandro Chiocchetti, close to Forza Italia and compatible with Fratelli d’Italia , the neofascists of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni. The deal ended with a general manager job being awarded to the Greens. Or again, last July, the same Lamberts withdrew his signature from a joint letter sent by the presidents of the EPP, Socialists and Renew groups criticizing the appointment of the American Fiona Scott-Morton to the post of economist in Head of the Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition. Suffice to say that the green group appeared as a subsidiary of the EPP.

In short, a succession of political errors that leave you speechless. Losing momentum within the Member States, inaudible at European level, the future of the Greens is not the brightest.

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