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Europe

Greens Across Europe

The Greens are the only Europe-wide political group campaigning for European Parliament elections jointly. Despite their small numbers, they've made a mark on EU politics.

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The Greens kicked off their pan-European party in February

Greens from throughout Europe established a pan-European Green Party in February and agreed to mount a joint EP campaign.

In most of the 11 states fielding Green candidates identical campaign posters in the different languages all trumpet green topics: demanding an end to nuclear power, supporting renewable resources and rejecting genetically-modified foods.

The Greens first entered the European Parliament (EP) in 1984. Twenty years later, the initial group of Belgian, Dutch and German politicians has grown to 35 from 11 different countries. Although the Greens make up one of the smallest political groups among the 626 parliamentarians (MEPs), they have managed to make their voice heard.

"Today we organize majorities in this parliament, above all in my area, agricultural policy," German MEP Friedrich Wilhelm Graefe zu Baringdorf, one of the first Greens in the EP, told Deutsche Welle. "The ideas that were then smiled at -- a social-ecological approach -- can obtain a majority in Parliament today."

Preparing for the future

The party has set out an agenda for the next five-year EP term that includes 44 goals. Top of the list is constitutional reform, human rights and environmental and consumer protection. Despite their weakness in numbers, the Greens are usually able agree on issue among themselves, and is thus better able to act as a block to reach its aims.

But consensus doesn't reign. The euroskeptic Swedish green party Miljöpartiet de Gröna, for example, says in its election platform the EU is going in the wrong direction and that Sweden should leave the bloc. Two of the country's 16 MEPs are greens.

And in many of the Union's countries, the European Greens' message doesn't get through. Despite the recent EU enlargement that added ten mainly eastern European countries to the bloc, it's likely that Green MEPs will only be elected in the old member states, above all from Austria, Finland, France, Germany and the Benelux countries -- traditional Green party strongholds. Candidates from eastern Europe have poor chances of being voted in, since the Greens have little support there.

Green leader and MEP Daniel Cohn-Bendit plays down the weak backing in the East: "A company has to plan for the long term. The work that we do with the many Greens in the expansion countries is an investment for the next European elections -- not 2004, but 2009."

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