Rebecca Harms

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Rebecca Harms
Rebecca Harms.jpg
Rebecca Harms (2011)
Member of the European Parliament
Assumed office
Personal details
Born (1956-12-07) 7 December 1956 (age 65)
Hambrock, Uelzen, Lower Saxony
Nationality German
Political party  German:
Alliance '90/The Greens
The Greens–European Free Alliance
Occupation Landscape designer

Rebecca Harms (born 7 December 1956) is a German politician and Member of the European Parliament for Alliance '90/The Greens, part of the European Greens. Since 2010 she has been the president of The Greens–European Free Alliance group in the European parliament.

Early life and education

Harms was born into a traditional working-class household[1] and grew up in a village near Uelzen in Lower Saxony. She finished school with the Abitur in 1975 and began her career with an apprenticeship in plant nursery and landscape gardening.[2] During her apprenticeship years, she moved with like-minded friends to an abandoned farm in the nearby district of Lüchow-Dannenberg and joined a local organic farmers’ co-operative.[3]

Political career

During the following years, Harms became active in the anti-nuclear movement and began to study at university. In 1984 de (Undine-Uta Bloch von Blottnitz) employed her as an advisor after being elected to the European Parliament. She returned to her home in 1988 to work as a production manager at the Wendland Film Co-operative, producing, among other films, documentaries about the Gorleben protest movement.[4]

From 1994 to 2004, Harms was a member of the Landtag of Lower Saxony. From 1998 she served as chairwoman of her party on the state level. She has since been a member of the Parteirat, the federal leadership body of Germany’s Green Party.

Member of the European Parliament, 2004-present

In 2004, Harms was the top candidate of the Alliance 90/The Greens for the Elections to the European Parliament and in 2009 she was elected again for parliament. Ahead of the 2014 elections, she lost out against fellow German MEP Ska Keller to lead the European Greens’ campaign alongside José Bové; however, she eventually led the German Green Party in the election campaign.[5]

Between 2007 and 2009, Harms served as Vice Chairwoman of the Temporary Committee on Climate Change; she was part of the European Parliament’s delegation to the 2007 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali.[6] She has led the Greens–European Free Alliance in the European Parliament since 2009, at first alongside Daniel Cohn-Bendit (2009-14) and later Philippe Lamberts (since 2014).

Harms was a Green Party delegate to the Federal Convention for the purpose of electing the President of Germany in 2004 and 2012.

Political positions

On nuclear energy

Living in the Wendland region which became known nationwide for the Gorleben atomic waste site, Harms is a declared opponent of nuclear power. In 2006, she commissioned two UK scientists for an alternate report, entitled TORCH, to the disputed November 2005 IAEA report on the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster. She has been an outspoken critic of EU funding for the experimental International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) fusion project, money that, in her view, would be better spent on research into renewable energy.[7] After European Union leaders in 2011 decided that nuclear reactors across all 27 member nations should undergo safety tests in response to the continuing radiation leaks from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan, Harms criticized that the tests were "designed to give the impression that there’s a new evaluation of the risks of nuclear power" but instead are meant "to win new acceptance for nuclear power."[8]

On NSA surveillance and Edward Snowden

After German newsmagazine Der Spiegel reported in 2013 that American intelligence agencies had monitored the offices of the European Union in New York and Washington,[9] Harms called for a special committee to investigate the claims and the possible cancellation of existing agreements between the European Union and the United States concerning bank transaction information and airline passenger data.[10]

On Russia and Ukraine

During the Ukraine crisis, Harms – a longtime critic of Putin[11] – made a number of statements supporting Kiev and criticizing Russia. In December 2013, she addressed the thousands of Ukrainians in Maidan Nezalezhnosti protesting the previous regime's rejection of a pact with the European Union.[12] In the context of European efforts to unify their political response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, Harms claimed that “in the face of a new threat of war in Europe, E.U. states have indeed agreed on a joint strategy towards Russia.”[13] In April 2015, Harms therefore sharply criticized Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras of Greece for threatening to break ranks on the EU sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine crisis, calling his visit to President Vladimir Putin “clearly pro-Russian and anti-European.“[14]

Harms was a member of the parliament’s monitoring mission during the Ukrainian parliamentary elections in 2014, led by Andrej Plenković.[15]

On September 25, 2014, Harms who arrived to Moscow to witness court trial against Nadiya Savchenko was denied entrance to the Russian Federation and was announced as persona non grata.[16] She was informed that her entrance to Russia could be qualified as a crime.[17] In 2015, news media reported that Harms was indeed included in a Russian blacklist of prominent people from the European Union who are not allowed to enter the country.[18][19]

When Finland announced plans in 2014 to build a nuclear reactor in cooperation with Russian firm Rosatom and on the condition that Finland maintains an energy partnership with Russia over the subsequent years, Harms described the decision as "wrong". She insisted that "with a Russian partner, it is even worse," as this was "totally contrary to the EU's energy security goals, which aim to cut the EU's damaging dependency on Russian energy."[20]

Harms is fundamentally supportive of the European Commission’s 2015 proposal for an Energy Union, but warned that while reducing Europe’s dependence on Russian energy imports "we escape into the arms of Azerbaijan or Kazakhstan instead of the home-grown renewables sector."[21]

Other activities


  1. Constant Brand (July 14, 2010), Grown-up anarchist European Voice.
  2. Biography in German
  3. Constant Brand (July 14, 2010), Grown-up anarchist European Voice.
  4. Constant Brand (July 14, 2010), Grown-up anarchist European Voice.
  5. Gabriele Steinhauser (January 29, 2014), European Greens Tap Lead Candidates for May Elections Wall Street Journal.
  6. Simon Taylor (November 21, 2007), Bali-bound MEPs European Voice.
  7. Constant Brand (July 14, 2010), Grown-up anarchist European Voice.
  8. James Kanter (March 25, 2011), Europe to Test Safety of Nuclear Reactors New York Times.
  9. Laura Poitras, Marcel Rosenbach and Holger Stark (August 26, 2013), Codename 'Apalachee': How America Spies on Europe and the UN Der Spiegel.
  10. Stephen Castle and Eric Schmitt (June 30, 2013), Europeans Voice Anger Over Reports of Spying by U.S. on Its Allies New York Times.
  11. Anton Troianovski (November 21, 2014), Broadcaster’s Russia Coverage Under Fire as Germany Debates Ukraine Crisis Wall Street Journal.
  12. Naftali Bendavid (September 26, 2014), EU Parliamentarian Refused Entry to Russia Wall Street Journal.
  13. Paul Taylor (March 31, 2014), How the Ukraine Crisis May Change the World New York Times.
  14. Sandra Schulz (April 9, 2015), "Athen schwächt EU-Kurs gegen Russland" Deutschlandfunk.
  15. Jeanette Minns (October 9, 2014), Parliament’s mission to Ukrainian elections European Voice.
  16. European Parliament member declared persona non grata by Russia. Europe Online. 25 September 2014
  17. European MP Rebecca Harms was denied entrance to Moscow. Deutsche Welle (Ukraine). 25 September 2014
  18. Laurence Norman (May 30, 2015), Russia Produces Blacklist of EU People Banned From Entering Country Wall Street Journal.
  19. European Union anger at Russian travel blacklist BBC News, May 31, 2015.
  20. Julie Levy-Abegnoli (December 8, 2014), Russia moves in on Finnish nuclear energy market The Parliament Magazine.
  21. Stephen Brown (February 25, 2015), [1] EurActiv.
  22. Rebecca Harms The Greens–European Free Alliance.

External links