The world is going down the drain. We are witnessing climate change-related disasters in so many places around the world. At the same time, we see conflicts and wars on the rise. And we are facing right-wing populism and antisemitism right on our doorstep. If I wanted to accept this, we could end the text here. But I would like to tell you about why this is worth the effort for us Greens to fight for a better world.
In 2019, thanks to your support, I was elected to the European Parliament. In Brussels, there are naturally many moments when you might feel despair and bury your head in the sand. For example, when the Conservatives keep trying to block the essential Green Deal. We are often the only ones who consistently tackle the fight against climate change. This shows that strong Greens are needed in the European Parliament to lead Europe into the future.
Far too few people have a positive image of the EU. Yet it is such a great gift. It is the idea that we speak different languages, enjoy different food, listen to different music, dance different dances and still – or precisely because of this – get on well together. We have the idea that we are united in diversity. We have to convince people of this idea again.
Rural areas: trusting the people
If we want to strengthen faith in and also our democracy, we need to look at rural areas in particular. I’m talking about rural areas where young people are moving away, where the bus simply doesn’t run at all and where people no longer believe in “established parties”. It is often simply said that the region is “left behind”. These rural areas, often in the east of Germany, hardly get any attention. We urgently need to change that.
So much is currently being decided in these rural areas: Will we manage the food, energy and transport transition? Will society still hold together? It takes us Greens to be able to answer these questions positively and ensure that the transformation towards a sustainable economy is socially just. To do this, we need to use the expertise on the ground and trust the local people.
I try to get to know all the rural regions of Germany and Europe. People there tell me about their projects for their region – from small multicultural village cafés to large networks for sustainable structural change. And then I often hear one sentence: “I’m on the verge of giving up.” EU funding is too complicated. The bureaucracy is more of a deterrent than an incentive to get involved.
One third of the entire EU budget is available for regional development. A total of almost one trillion euros is being invested. However, this will not help us if this money does not reach the people in a targeted manner.
These cohesion funds must be fully focused on feminist, social and ecological transformation! Citizen participation must not just be the cherry on top, but the whole cake! From the 2028 funding period onwards, it must be clear that Europe is reaching out to you locally, taking you seriously as a person and valuing your commitment to improving our society.
Culture: defending freedom
The diversity of art and culture is under threat. Media freedom is not only being suppressed in Hungary, there are also documented cases in Italy and Greece. Rectors and employees of art academies, theatres and museums are being brought into line by some governments. Children’s books with LGBTIQ content are being censored in some places, and bookshops across Europe are reporting attacks.
Yet cultural diversity is what makes Europe what it is. Artists, cultural and media professionals must be given special protection. It is a great Green success that we have convinced Parliament to call for a Europe-wide artists’ social security fund. But we must do much more. Europe must become the guarantor of a free and diverse culture. I want to enshrine this as a treaty principle.
Space: for people instead of billionaires
At the same time, space is rapidly gaining in importance. The development is comparable to that of the internet in the early 1990s: initially only nerds used it, but in the end it became an integral part of our everyday lives.
We have long been able to organise our everyday lives from space. Our satnav uses satellites, as does the Champions League broadcast. And we rely on information from space: for international supply chains, for targeted aid in the event of floods, earthquakes and forest fires. And for the fight against climate change, because 80 per cent of the findings in the IPCC report come from space data. Without our space infrastructure, our society would quickly collapse.
But it is at great risk. Space debris is already threatening critical infrastructure satellites and manned missions. Meanwhile, nations and crazy billionaires like Elon Musk are engaged in a space race – higher, faster, further. There’s more and more junk up there, but too few people care about real sustainability.
Since 2019, I have been fighting for a European space law that creates sustainability and legal certainty. European industry should be able to develop better, but it must also view space as a common heritage of humanity. I have held numerous discussions with industry, ESA, the EU member states and the Commission. Now the time has finally come: this law is due to come into force at the beginning of 2024 – and will then become a global model.
We Greens have already been successful in the EU’s largest space project in recent times. The new satellite constellation “IRIS2” is intended to bring stable internet to all regions, especially in times of crisis. We are investing 2.4 billion euros in it. Thanks to us, it is the world’s first space project that has to fulfil sustainable criteria for propulsion and disposal.
Europe: The vision of the Republic
I had the great honour of attending the Conference on the Future of Europe on behalf of Parliament. This conference was an important step – but we need to step up the pace when it comes to European unity. Especially in times of great challenges such as the climate catastrophe, a changing world security order or other rapid changes, we need a European Republic.
A Europe that stands united in defence of our values. A European Republic that stands up for a more gender-equal, more social, more sustainable world. But above all, a European Republic that protects democracy, freedom and peace everywhere.
Before the world goes down the drain, let’s make it new, better and greener. We’re getting to work and invite everyone to join us.
I would be delighted if you would support me. I want to give my all once again in Brussels for you and a better world.
At the start of the “Future.Land.Life” conference, guests from all over Germany were shown one of the most beautiful sides of the rural area. The sun shone on Thursday morning at Lake Kummerow and on the green areas around Malchin. “But this beautiful side is not enough in rural areas,” emphasized Niklas Nienaß at the…
At least 2 percent of the 673 billion EUR budget from the Recovery and Resilience Facility (in 2018 prices) dedicated to the Cultural and Creative Sectors (CCS) – today I requested the Budgets Committee (BUDG) of the European Parliament to include this demand in the regulation they are currently working on together with the Economic…