Green Party in Europe


Europe’s First Green Party

Despite the common belief that the German Greens were the Europe’s first Green party, it was actually founded first in the UK. The Party was established by the members of the ‘Club of Thirteen’ (named after the founders’ first meeting in Daventry that was held on 13th October 1972) in 1973 as PEOPLE. In 1975, the Party decided to change its name to the Ecology Party to emphasise its focus on environmental issues. In 1985, it was renamed again - this time as the Green Party.

Formation of Green Parties Elsewhere in Europe

The first Green parties on Continental Europe were founded in the late 1970s. The German Greens were founded only in 1980. But they received a lot of attention by the media which is thought to play an important role in the Party’s reputation as the Europe’s first Green party even if it was not.

Under the influence of the growing concerns about the environment all over Europe, Green parties sprang up in many European countries in the late 1970s. The first major success of Green politics was achieved in Belgium where the Green Party won the seats in the parliament and local councils in the late 1970s. German Green Party, on the other hand, had its first members elected into the Bundestag at the 1983 Federal Election.

In 1995, Finland’s Green League became the Europe’s first Green party to enter the government. The German Greens followed the example of their Finnish counterparts and entered the government with the Social Democratic Party in 1998. They remained in coalition with the Social Democrats until 2005 when Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU won the most votes. The two largest German parties formed a coalition in which there was no place for the Greens.

Green Party at the European Level

In 1984, the European Greens agreed to join their forces for the EU Parliament elections. The strategy worked and the Greens got their first Members of the EU parliament in the same year. Seven were elected in Germany, two in Belgium and two in the Netherlands. Since they could not for a parliamentary group, they connected with other Members of the European Parliament to form a group called GRAEL (short for Green Alternative European Link) which is also known as the Rainbow group.

After years of successful collaboration, the Greens decided to form a pan-European coalition that joined the majority of Europe’s Green parties. Together with the European Free Alliance (EFA), they are currently the fourth largest group in the EU Parliament.