EUROPE: Protection for environment

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People ask ‘what has the European Union ever done for us?’ Less air pollution, cleaner drinking water, cleaner beaches, and protection for our wildlife are some of the things that have resulted from our membership of the EU.

In the 1970s and 1980s, the UK was known as ‘the dirty man of Europe’, and it was thanks to EU rules that our country was forced to clean up its act and make it a healthier place to live.

Alnwick Area Friends of the Earth will be encouraging its members and supporters to vote to ‘remain’ in the European Union referendum.

Precautionary principles, the need to take action before damage occurs, are enshrined in EU treaties, and EU-wide laws prevent countries setting lower environmental standards to gain competitive advantages. If we vote to leave, Friends of the Earth fears that the impact on our environment could be negative and long-term.

Our wish to remain in the EU isn’t an unconditional one. Friends of the Earth is campaigning alongside other Europe-wide environmental organisations to urge the EU to change its priorities and move away from the dominant free trade ideology, such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which aims to ‘harmonise’ US/European environmental, food and consumer standards, many of which are far weaker in the USA than in Europe.

We also argue that much-criticised policies, such as the Common Agricultural Policy and Common Fishery Policy, need to be overhauled to put sustainability and environmental protection at their core. Most of these negotiations are taking place at a global level.

Only by voting to remain in the EU on June 23, and by then using our voice to insist that the European Union uses its collective strength to reprioritise environmental and human welfare, can we continue to protect our increasingly fragile and threatened environment.

Alnwick Area Friends of the Earth