Plaid Cymru's Jill Evans urges 'keep focus on climate crisis'

Jill Evans MEP MEP Jill Evans said Wales needs investment in green jobs to build a sustainable economy

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The EU must not "lose sight of the climate crisis", Plaid Cymru's MEP has told her party conference.

Jill Evans appealed for backing in May's poll, promising to press for changes to make the institution "more relevant" and "democratic".

She said the challenge posed by climate change was "as real" as the economic crisis.

Ms Evans called for Wales and the EU to work together to exploit the nation's renewable energy potential.

She was addressing members on the second day of the spring conference in Cardiff.

"We've heard so much, in the past couple of days, about the huge potential we have as a powerhouse for renewable energy," she said.

'Shifted the focus'

Start Quote

I understand why people have lost faith in Europe, but the answer is not to walk away”

End Quote Jill Evans Plaid Cymru MEP

"We must work with the European Union to develop that potential.

"We need serious investment in green jobs to build a sustainable economy."

Ms Evans also echoed concerns expressed by Plaid leader Leanne Wood on Friday that "Europhobia" could win the day during the European election on 22 May and damage Welsh interests.

The MEP said: "I understand why people have lost faith in Europe, but the answer is not to walk away.

"The answer is to change it."

"The economic crisis pushed Europe to its limits, it shifted the focus from people and onto markets.

Peace corps

"That must change now, and we have to change it".

Concluding her speech, she said Plaid Cymru was the only party "that protects the Welsh national interest and promotes that interest in the European parliament".

"We're the only party that puts the interests of the people of Wales first.

"We're not told what to do by anyone other than the people of Wales," she said.

Ms Evans won applause for calling for the creation of a "European civilian peace corps" to mark the centenary of the outbreak of World War One.

"Instead of moving towards setting up a European army, which is what some are trying to do, let's establish a European civilian peace corps.

"Not soldiers - but teachers, engineers, lawyers, all those people with skills that can work in areas of potential conflict to prevent violence and increase tolerance and understanding."

Opening the second day of the conference, Plaid education spokesman Simon Thomas revealed plans for a taskforce to cut "red tape and form filling" in schools.

"In government we will move immediately to work with the trade unions and the (teaching) profession to eliminate unnecessary bureaucracy and, particularly, to free up good teachers to be innovative and flexible themselves," he said.

'Second rate'

"We will challenge the outcomes, rather than the processes, so things get done by professionals."

But Mr Thomas said that where teaching was "poor or mediocre", Plaid would intervene to improve things.

Criticising the performances of successive Labour ministers who had been responsible for education in Wales, he said they had avoided "responsibility for standards" and had been "putting up with the second rate".

He added: "Do Labour not understand that our education today is our economy tomorrow?"

Later, the conference will be addressed by Plaid Cymru's Westminster leader Elfyn Llwyd.

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