From supporting businesses to protecting conservation sites, what the EU has done for Peterborough - Green Party MEP

Catherine Rowett MEP
Catherine Rowett MEP
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People in Peterborough were right to vent their frustration in this year’s elections, given the mess mainstream politicians have led our country into, writes Green MEP for the East of England Catherine Rowett in this week’s Speaker’s Corner column.

Theresa May was right to step down, having failed to get Parliament to support her Brexit deal. But now we are faced with a government that will only make things worse.

As the Green Party MEP elected for the East of England, I believe the best way of shaking up the establishment is to use our power in the EU to fight for the things that make us proud to be British: the values of honesty, care for each other and for strangers, and for responsible management of resources to preserve our own countryside and our planet, within a reformed European Union.

Readers might ask, “what has the EU ever done for Peterborough?”. In contrast to our Government in Westminster, which has consistently let the richest corporations get away without paying their fair share of tax, the EU supports smaller businesses and start-ups that provide greater benefits to the local economy. For example, since 2014, the EU has invested millions of pounds to help transform Peterborough into a hub for sustainable jobs, with more than 50 new start-ups at the Peterborough Workspace. Peterborough is now a leader in developing essential new technologies like solar power and filters to remove poisonous gases from diesel exhausts.

European legislation has also been key in protecting vital conservation sites such as the Nene Washes and the Orton Pit.

EU projects have not been imposed on us without our consent. The UK’s active participation in Europe for the last 40 years has been essential in securing these and other benefits. Brexit-supporting politicians might argue that we don’t need Europe to make our own laws or shape our economy. But we need cooperation to tackle the global problems that are affecting local communities.

The EU is working to stop the world’s wealthiest companies getting away without paying tax, and to protect workers’ and consumers’ rights so people aren’t exploited when they travel or go to live in another country. Working together, the 28 EU nations can take global action on the climate emergency, and deliver the benefits of new research and technology to businesses across Europe.

The UK could be at the forefront of this. Instead the Government will give tax breaks to the rich, strip our land of the protections it needs, and cut Britain off from trade and learning networks.

The EU is far from perfect. Too often it acts as a forum for global corporate interests and not in support of local communities. But that can change, especially if the new larger group of Green MEPs in Brussels get our way. My promise to Peterborough is to ensure that we continue to enjoy the huge benefits that come from EU membership, and to retain our position of influence in Europe. We need to make sure that everyone reaps the rewards, not just Boris’s rich friends.