THE school strikes started last year by young Swedish activist Greta Thunberg may well have had a considerable influence on the European Parliament elections at the weekend.

With reports across the continent of an increasing number of young people exercising their democratic right to vote in these latest elections, the rise of the Greens across Europe could well be attributed to Greta and co.

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The UK, France, Germany and several other countries all saw the advance of the Greens, but the problem now for the European Parliament is how does it deal with the demand for action on climate change when the European Union is already one of the world’s leading forces in the fight for the planet’s future.

In France Europe Ecology – The Greens (EELV) won 13.5% of the vote to end up in third place, well ahead of more traditional parties,

The Greens in Germany did even better, finishing in second place with 20.5% of the popular vote, while Greens also did well in Finland and Portugal where they won their first-ever seat.

Greens leaders had no doubt what had happened. Jean-Francois Julliard, the head of Greenpeace France, said: “It is the mobilisation of young people that has produced this result -- above all in France and Germany. While we feared that young people would abstain, they mobilised for ecology.”

Ska Keller, a German Greens MEP and a leading candidate for European Commission president, said: “The Green Wave has swept across Europe. We want to thank everyone who has voted for change and climate action.

“This trust given to us by voters is both a task and a responsibility to put green polices into action.”

Bas Eickhout, vice-president of the European Greens, said: “It’s time the European Union puts all its efforts into a sustainable future and starts caring for its citizens.”