Parliament’s youngest member voices hopes for EU

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Emilie Turunen, a 25-year old Danish Green who was recently elected to the European Parliament, told EURACTIV in an interview that she will fight for Europe to embark on a green ‘New Deal’ and to engage more young people in European politics.

“We need a change of direction and a change of politics. And not just on the surface, but a really dramatic change in thinking economic, social and environmental policies,” Turunen said as she attended the first plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

According to the young Danish Green, regulating financial markets goes hand-in-hand with restarting the economy via active fiscal policies. 

“So far we have had policies that were deregulating the financial markets, removing rules and barriers,” Turunen said, adding that recent decades have led to the creation of a bubble of debt and speculation.

“The state should play an active role in that [regulating] process,” she said, arguing that a green New Deal would need both private and public involvement.

“So far we have made investments, but not green investments,” Turunen said. “It is time to revert this trend. Within the Greens we have been promoting a green ‘New Deal’, which is an idea that goes back to the 30s. We have to tackle two crises today and that needs a change of paradigm,” she added, saying transport and energy are the first sectors in need of industrial change.

Turunen rebuffed suggestions that there was a lack of funding for investing in the green economy. “Everybody is coming up with recovery packages – why are they not making it green enough? The present recovery packages are job killers,” the young MEP argued, saying investing in the green economy “is not for fun, but for our future, for all of us”.

The Danish MEP says Europe should maintain its leading position at the UN negotiating table for a new global climate agreement. As for the negotiators, she said: “I will ask them not to think about the next election, but about the economy [and] social stability in a long-term perspective.”

Turunen also noted that the EU has so far produced legislation that has often been hostile to the younger generation, saying the time had come for the Union to become more youth-friendly and engage more people into the legislative process.

She said European politicians should stop sticking their heads in technical holes and talk about issues that really impact on people instead, so that citizens can associate themselves more closely with the EU.

To read the interview in full, please click here.

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