UK Green Party Joins Anti-Euro Campaign

By Mike Wendling | July 7, 2008 | 8:11 PM EDT

London ( - Pro-business groups and the British green lobby have finally found an area of political common ground - opposition to the U.K. joining the European common currency.

The U.K. Green Party has teamed up with the anti-euro No campaign, claiming the euro will speed up globalization by handing control of the British economy to an unaccountable European Central Bank.

Caroline Lucas, one of two British Greens in the European Parliament, said Wednesday that the euro debate transcends traditional right-left political boundaries.

Lucas said that the European Union suffers from a "fundamental lack of credibility and legitimacy" which adversely affects democracy throughout the continent.

The Greens advocate local control over economic systems and the party says joining the euro would hinder progress towards that goal.

"We stand for the most progressive and radical ideas in politics," Lucas said. "So the fact that we are associated with the anti-euro campaign will stand out and make people realise that it is a much broader alliance than they might have thought."

She acknowledged that the Green stance on the euro in Britain is contrary to the position taken by most other European Green parties.

"There is this rather naive idea that if you are a big internationalist then you must be in favour the euro," Lucas said. "People who are against the euro are seen as being xenophobic ... but it doesn't necessarily follow."

She said that the Green principal of "sustainability" lies at the heart of the party's anti-euro sentiments.

"If we are trying to shift our economy to a more sustainable path it simply does not make sense to hand over the key levers of economic decision-making to an unaccountable (central European) bank in Frankfurt," Lucas said.

The U.K. government has promised to hold a referendum on Britain joining the euro if five economic tests are met. Prime Minister Tony Blair's administration has refused to speculate on the timing of any such vote, but recent reports say the ballot could come as early as next spring.

The anti-euro movement in Britain has attracted varied support from across the political spectrum. The No campaign comprises the right-leaning Business for Sterling group and the progressive New Europe organization.

Political attacks on the single currency have come mainly from the Conservative Party, but sizeable contingents in the other two main parties have come out against the euro. On the fringes of the debate, anarchist groups and the extreme-right British National Party have also expressed their opposition to a currency switch.

Anti-euro campaigners hope the addition of Green support will allow their movement to shed a somewhat xenophobic image.

"The No campaign has always been a cross-party coalition," said No director Dominic Cummings. "The stereotype of those opposed to the euro as being old-fashioned or right-wing is wrong."

Cummings said that polls show that women and young people are heavily against bringing the euro to Britain.

"With unemployment in the eurozone almost double that in Britain, it's no surprise that more people on the left are coming out against the single currency," he said.

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