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Interview with Margrete Auken, Green MEP

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Margrete Auken has been a Member of the European Parliament since 2004. She represents the Danish Socialist People’s Party (SF) and in the parliament she is part of The European Green Party. For more than 40 years Margrete has fought for the environment. One of her main goals is to make the EU more social and transparent. She was recently the spokesperson and the driving force behind the reduction of the use of lightweight plastic bags by 80 % in the EU. Besides the fight against climate change, she is also fighting tax havens, greedy banks and trying to make it obligatory for politicians to register meetings with lobbyists.

What can be done to create more jobs for young people?

We have to create new jobs – not only for young people – through green adjustment. That means helping the progressive industries which work with sustainable growth and readjustment. The jobs created in for example the waste-sector when we start recycling more resources cannot be outsourced to China or India. They stay local. The same thing goes for increased investment in green construction and farming.

What is your standpoint on unpaid internships as part of helping the youth finding a job? Are they really a solution, as they don’t seem to be an all-inclusive option for all layers of young society?

An internship can provide so much experience for young people, which can be very difficult to learn from books. But it is important that young people are not exploited – an internship should provide competency to the young – they should not be used as cheap labour.

Meanwhile, we also have to make sure, that internships are not used as compensation for a “real” job. Meaning that you use interns to carry out tasks, which otherwise would be carried out by someone who would be paid.

Given that over 5 million young people in Europe are unemployed, do you think that the EU is doing enough to tackle youth unemployment and that the current initiatives such as the Youth Guarantee Scheme are working?

I think that an initiative like the Youth Guarantee Scheme is a step in the right direction, but it is essential that resources are also provided for the project. We cannot continue this policy of cutting down, like the right wing does. We need to invest in young people if we want to help them out of unemployment. Meanwhile it is a challenge for the countries in the south that their labour markets are so unudynamic – it is difficult to hire and to fire. In Denmark it is easier for young people to enter the job market, because we have a “flexicurity”-system.

What do you as an MEP hope the parliament gains or learns from the Europe Youth Event in May?

I hope that we get a lot of good and innovative ideas from young people about how we create a closer connection between the EU and the young people, how we best recover from the crisis, how to speed up the green adjustment and ensure a social and fair Europe. It is the young people who are going to carry on and create Europe in the future.

Why do you think young people aren’t as willing to vote?

I consider it a big problem that there is so little attention towards the EU in general. That goes for both the media and in the educational system. We need to make the EU obtainable to young people and stop the story that the EU is dangerously complicated and difficult to understand.

The targets for reducing carbon emissions have been set at a lower rate than the Parliament originally proposed. Will you pursue raising them after the elections?

Yes, the Green Group and I are definitely pursuing raising them. It was very disappointing that the goals were so unambitious.

What are the Green Party’s main priorities to tackle climate change?

The Green Group is fighting for green adjustment of energy. We need to reduce our use of resources and become better at recycling. It is possible to shift from fossil fuels to sustainable energy sources without resorting to nuclear power or shale gas.

A green adjustment is also the answer to how to get out of the financial crisis, as it creates millions of jobs that will stay in Europe.

What do you feel is the future in sustainable energy?

Sustainable energy will be the cornerstone of our society. The numbers of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the World Bank show that we should leave fossil fuels in the ground; therefore we only have sustainable energy left. We need to invest in the expansion of the sector as fast as possible instead of giving subsidies to nuclear power. If we want a planet which is also inhabitable for our great-grandchildren, we have to change the direction now.

What should the EU focus on in the future?

Green adjustment and growth. We have to tackle climate and environmental challenges while we create jobs in Europe. This is best done through Green New Deal.

What could be improved in the framework/ structure of the European institutions?

It is essential that we get more transparency in the European institutions and implement rules on the practices of good administrative behaviour.


Ellen Christensen is from Denmark and is currently an intern at the United Nations regional Information Center (UNRIC).


Last modified on Wednesday, 21 May 2014 12:29

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