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"The European Union, created after the devastation of World War Two, has succeeded in building a lasting peace across the continent. The future of the EU is now being debated. My vision for the EU is of one which sees the defence of human and workers' rights, protection of the environment and accountability to the people of Europe at its core".

Keith Taylor, MEP

Our Europe

All of us are affected by decisions made by the European Union. From the number of hours we work, to the air that we breathe, the EU plays a part in our daily lives.

The European Union isn't perfect and that is why Greens in the European Parliament are calling for some major changes. But, at the same time, the EU has provided us with some considerable benefits.

The European Union gives us, and our continental counterparts, the ability to live and work in other countries. It has also delivered progress on issues that matter, from climate change and health to workers rights.

In 2014 voters in the UK will be given a chance to elect their Members of the European Parliament. This is your opportunity to shape the European Union's direction for the next five years.

3 Things the EU has done for us

Our Health
In Britain alone air pollution kills 27,000 people every year and shortens the life of another 200,000. To counter this massive threat to public health the European Union has placed strict regulations on air quality which apply to all local authorities and member states' governments.

Our working rights
Laws from Europe have enshrined certain rights for workers. These include an entitlement to paid holidays, health and safety protection at work, equal treatment for part-time workers and women, protection when a business is sold off, and a voice at work.

Our environment
With at least 11% of global greenhouse gas emissions coming from the EU, Europe-wide action on reducing emissions is vital if we are going to make a serious attempt at averting catastrophic climate change. Climate change legislation from the EU has set the target of reducing CO2 emissions by 20% by 2020 compared to 1990s levels.

3 changes we'd like to see:

Putting People First
The European Parliament should strengthen its defence of workers rather than promote free trade and so-called 'liberalisation'. Greens want to clamp down on the lobbying power of big business and promote human and workers' rights as the core principles of the EU.

Making the EU more accountable to us
Greens want to strengthen the democratic elements of the European Union. This means giving more power to the Parliament. It also means giving people across Europe a vote on who should be the President of the European Commission.

A single seat for the Parliament
Many people don't know it but the European Union actually has 2 parliament buildings: one in Brussels and one in Strasbourg. MEPs and their staff have to travel between the cities every month. Greens would end this waste of resources by having only the one parliament in Brussels, thus saving the British taxpayer £28 million annually and reducing CO2 emissions from travel between the cities by 20,000 tonnes per year.

European Parliament Elections

The 2014 Elections The elections for the European Parliament are taking place in May 2014. These elections, which happen every five years, give European citizens a chance to influence the direction of the EU. At the last elections for the European Parliament only 34% of British people turned out to vote.

Proportional System
Unlike elections to the British Parliament, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) are chosen by proportional representation. This means that you have more than one MEP representing you and also that you have a better chance of being represented by the party you voted for. The system used is called the d'Hondt method - click here for an explanation.

Don't forget
The European Union makes decisions which affect your everyday life. The elections this year will give you a chance to shape the future of the EU. Make sure you vote!

Published and promoted by Bill Linton for Enfield Green Party, both at 39A Fox Lane, London N13 4AJ