( translation )
URFIG/Foundation Copernic, 16 June, 2006
Conservative plutocrats of the Right and Left call for a « Euro-American-style Europe »
On June 1st, the European Parliament adopted two resolutions dealing with relations between the European Union (EU) and the U.S. In each case, the resolutions arose from initiatives deliberated by a policy group even though no request had been made by the Parliament.
The first resolution concerns a transatlantic partnership agreement . It issues from a group within the Parti Populaire Européen which chose Elmar Brok to draft it. Mr. Brok is a German Christian Democrat who is well-known for his decisive rôle during the work of the convention which prepared the treaty project establishing a Constitution for Europe. This resolution, which concerns political relations with the United States, was introduced by the committee on foreign affairs of the European Parliament.
The second resolution concerns transatlantic economic relations . It issues from a group of the Parti Socialiste Européen which chose Erika Mann to draft it. Ms. Mann is a German Social Democrat who happens also to preside over the « Transatlantic Policy Network » (TPN), an American think-tank with headquarters in Washington and an office in Brussels. The purpose of this lobby is to influence European policies in favor of a reconciliation with the U.S. which is presented as a partnership. Members of the TPN are: ABB, Deutsche Bank, Pechiney, Accenture, Dow Chemical, Pfizer International , AOL Time-Warner, EDS, Philips BASF, Ford Motor Company, Bertelsmann, General Electric, Boeing, Honeywell, Siemens, BP, IBM, Unilever BT, Merck, United Technologies Corporation, Caterpillar, Michelin, UPS, Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Xerox, DaimlerChrysler, and Nestlé. Ms. Mann is also a member of the « Kangaroo Group », a forum of members of parliament devoted to the promotion of free-exchange and, in particular, to the free circulation of goods, services and capital. Her resolution had been introduced by the committee on international commerce.
The two resolutions were adopted thanks to an alliance of Christian-Democrats and Socialists. They come just weeks prior to a EU-U.S. summit meeting. This, then, uses the European Parliament, the only European institution which issues from direct and universal sufferage, as a means of support for Europe's corporate decision-makers.
The resolutions explicitly make reference to the « new transatlantic agenda » adopted at the EU-U.S. summit in London in 1995. They resolutely follow the direction desired by the European heads of government who declared on December 2nd, 2003 that: « transatlantic relations supercede governments. The links between business communities and societies are the base of these relations. »
They both invoke the reinforcement of EU-U.S. ties in order to advance, within Europe, the program of deregulation and competitiveness which was baptised, « the Lisbon strategy ».
They both lead to what Pierre Bourdieu called a « Euro-American Europe ».
These two documents have, no doubt, no legal force. The policy message which they contain is, however, of considerable weight.
The Brok Resolution (PPE)
Even if it isn't apparent by its form, this document really contains two parts: one lists the grievances held against the United States, on one hand; one appeals to a partnership in the name of « common values », on the other hand. It's as if the point of the document is to underline the necessity of the partnership even as it enumerates criticisms.
In the catalog of grievances more often implicit than explicit, the resolution notably mentions:
the need to include the respect for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the promotion of a model of government [while it's evident that this is the least of the concerns of the United States];
the encouragement of « common action » in such domains as the International Criminal Court, the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of prisoners of war, the United Nations convention against the practice of torture, and the abolition of the death penalty [while the U.S. categorically refuse such choices];
the regret « that the government of the United States remains so reluctant to adhere to any serious international partnership in the domain of climate change » [but this regret is immediately attenuated by the statement that the U.S. « do in fact want to engage in a thorough and constructive dialogue »];
the view according to which the American authorities must work together with European institutions on « the alleged use of European countries by the C.I.A. for the illegal transport and detention of prisoners » [one notes that the text speaks of the allegation...];
the condemnation of « the extraterritorial approach which characterizes the numerous aspects of the U.S.'s external economic and commercial policies as well as other external policies as the Helms-Burton Act, the Toricelli legislation or section 301 of the law on commercial exchanges demonstrate » [here, at any rate, it must be taken in context with European management's preoccupations];
the need for an end to the judicial void in which the prisoners held at Guantanamo are being kept and for the request that this issue be placed on the agenda of the next EU-U.S. summit;
the request that the citizens of all EU member nations be treated in the same way concerning visas and the request that discrimination against the nine new member states cease.
On the other hand, the document insists on « the necessity of a transatlantic agreement taking effect from 2007 » and « of anchoring the transatlantic relation in a solid institutional structure ». It also underlines « the pressing need to fix without further delay the objective consisting of completing, without encombrances, the transatlantic market by 2015, as the European Parliament, the Congress of the United States, the academic and the business worlds have proposed on numerous occasions. »
The resolution affirims the necessity of establishing a EU-U.S. « community of action » in the political, economic and security domains. It takes delight in the debates underway over regulatory cooperation [that is, in fact, the alignment with American law] and over intellectual property rights [the abusive use of which we are familiar on the part of pharmaceutical companies and agri-businesses]. This « community of action » must operate « in all the sectors where the common values and interests of the two partners are at stake ».
The resolution underlines the importance « of increasing the military capacities of Europe », but this is not in order to reinforce its independence (if it is true that such is an effective way to achieve that), it's in order to submit Europe to American command in the framework of a NATO which is confirmed in the rôle of « guarantor of stability and transatlantic security ».
The resolution seeks « a common approach to relations with Latin America, China, India, Japan and Russia; the same goes for the Middle East [no policy specific to Europe, thus, the destiny of Europeans is tied up with that of the United States].
The resolution seeks « a common strategy concerning the security of supplying energy and raw materials » [in the same manner as above, no European autonomy in the choices of supplying energy and raw materials; we shall pillage together the natural ressources of the rest of the world].
The policy implications of this resolution are major their reach: it ties the future of Europe to that of the U.S.; it ties Europe to the U.S. as concerns the view which the rest of the world takes of the U.S.; it renounces any promotion of a multi-polar world.
The Mann Resolution
Still more radical than the preceeding resolution, the socialist text (the amendments of the GUE and the Green Party had been rejected) « recommends that during the next summit in 2006, the European Union and the United States agree to put into effect both the new transatlantic agenda of 1995 as well as the transatlantic economic partnership of 1998 and to put the finishing touches on the new transatlantic agreement which covers both of the former and leads to establishment of an unfettered transatlantic market between now and 2015. »
It must be kept in mind that it is on the recommendation of the very powerful lobby, TransAtlantic Business Dialogue and at the initiative of the European Commissioner for international commerce, Leon Brittan, that the idea of a « new transatlantic market » (NTM) was launched by means of a communication from the Commission, March 11th , 1998. It concerned creating a true EU-U.S. free-trade zone. The reactions which the project elicited were all the more hostile for the fact that it was at about that same moment that the contents of a project negotiated in the greatest secrecy at OECD headquarters, and baptised « Multilateral Agreement on Investment » (MAI), were revealed. In both cases, the objective was to put back into question the free choice of states to manage their economy and to substitute for this the free choice of private firms. The Council of Ministers had not authorized proposing the NTM. But despite that absence of approval, the British, who were then presiding, took advantage of the occasion of the EU-U.S. summit which took place three months later in London, on May 18th, 1998, to have signed a « Joint Declaration on the transatlantic economic partnership » (TEP) which, by a slightly differing vocabulary, incorporated the essence of the propositions of the NTM. On the support of this « Declaration », the Commission then prepared a « plan of action for the transatlantic economic partnership » which was adopted November 9th, 1998. It concerned a program of negotiations between the EU and the U.S., but also a catalog of subjects on which the EU and the U.S. should adopt a common attitude in the nengotiations at the World Trade Organization. It is this TEP which Socialist member Erika Mann meant to bring about in order to lead to the creation of a « unfettered transatlantic market » by 2015.
What's found in the propositions since 1998 which Ms. Mann wants to bring about and have decided is extremely dangerous. In effect:
a) the TEP would submit Europe to the wishes of multinational businesses. As with the MAI, what is planned consists of erasing public powers' capacity for regulation to the advantage of a new sovereignty: that of private enterprise. In the TEP, the EU and the U.S. have, incidentally, undertaken to « assemble the points of view of the business community, notably in the framework of the TABD » and to work together « on the basis of recommendations of industry ».
b) the TEP is a formidable blow to democracy and the rights of states to conduct themselves as they see fit. We can, in effect, read in the plan of action of the European Commission that « the agreements negotiated in the framework of the TEP apply to the whole of the territory of the parties, independently of their constitutional structure at all levels of power and in the conditions which are set. »
Thus, by means of international agreements, they would put local, regional and national autonomy in question. It must be noted that, in these EU-U.S. negotiations, the partners are not in the same situation: we have, in the case of the U.S., a sovereign federal nation in which the executive is checked by the Congress; in Europe, it is the European Commission which takes the place of the sovereignty of the states and which negotiates a free-trade agreement which completely escapes the checking of national parliaments, except when, in the end, everything reaches conclusion during a quasi-automatic ratification. On one hand, the nations of Europe are constrained, once the negotiations have ended, to mechanically integrate into their national laws the measures negotiated ex parte by a European Commission very largely at the beck and call of the business milieux and particularly of the TABD, a Commission-inspired creature; on the other hand, an American government which had complete leisure during the negotiations to weigh the pros and cons of the measures under consideration while promoting its own interests.
The Socialist resolution adopted by the European Parliament covers all of the matters which usually constitute a very integrated free-trade zone and, chiefly, cooperation in regulatory affairs, an ensemble of joint legal instruments and the cooperative agreements concerning various economic sectors. The resolution calls for the creation of an « environment in greater harmony regarding regulatory matters. » Comment: if the wishes of the European Parliament were to become fact, a Europe entirely re-made in the image of the Anglo-Saxon model would be the result.
The resolution « asks the transatlantic partnership (...) to exercise the rôle of global manager ». In view of the fact that the EU and the U.S. are « invested with a unique responsibility and share common objectives, it is in their interest to cooperate in a constructive manner in the multilateral negotiations at the WTO. » Comment : the resolution calls for the establishment of a worldwide governance under American direction as assisted by Europe.
With regard to financial services and capital markets, the resolution asks that the « unfettered transatlantic market » be in effect by 2010. Comment: the resolution thus conforms perfectly to the project for merging the stock exchanges of Amsterdam, Brussels, Lisbon and Paris with that of New York. With the adoption of American accounting norms, the European Union proposes the opening of its market to American actors which these latter would control since the exchage merger envisions the preëminence of American law.
The resolution asks that it be preceeded by the deregulations forseen in the propositions discussed between 2001 and 2003 at the WTO in matters of investment, of public markets, of competition and of facilitation of trade (propositions called « Singapore matters » which take up the defunct provisions of the MAI). These propositions were rejected at the WTO ministerial conference of at Cancun (2003) when 90 governments opposed them.
Let it be said: this resolution calls for the constitution of a global politico-economic directorship following a complete European alignment along terms of U.S. design. The Socialist resolution invites subordinating the interests of Europe to those of the U.S. in order to encourage in Europeans the hope of being associated with an American domination of the world.
A political choice which is a choice about the society
That the powerful propose to transform the nations of Europe into docile auxiliaries of the U.S. Department of State and of the Pentagon and, by extension, of the American market for American firms, no one should be very surprised to learn. They always look outside for their support. This is a permanent given of History.
On the other hand, that European social-democracy renounces a european Europe and pushes for alignment on the model of American society constitutes the abandonment of a society forged over the course of centuries in social and political struggle. It constitutes the abandonment of the demand for a society of solidarity which privileges the defense of the weakest. This is an incontestable sign of a real change of camp. This Left is no longer of the Left.
What about the french and belgian socialists? With courage--it is never easy to adopt a position contrary to the majority within one's own parliamentary group--certain belgian and french members of parliament have not followed the majority of their own group during the vote in open session. Yet, is there not to be found in that some duplicity? Because they are, after all, members of a group which had proposed this resolution and which had chosen, for its drafting, Ms. Mann, whose ties to the U.S. are known to all. And yet, the frenchman Harlem Désir is vice-president of the socialist group. Who could believe that the president of the french delegation within the socialist group, Bernard Poignant, hadn't been consulted on such choices? Moreover, in the parliamentary committee on international trade, out of the view of the public, the french socialists had voted for Ms. Mann's text. Even if in open session they disclaimed it--undoubtedly one of the positive effects of the victory of the « no » vote over the European constitutional treaty--these belgian and french socialists belong to a parliamentary group which made the choice of a Europe dominated by the United States of America. As the party had also already done in supporting a treaty which constitutionalized the adherence of Europe to NATO. This is more than a political choice, it's a choice about the society.
(original text in french) by Raoul Marc JENNAR
URFIG / Foundation Copernic
consultant to the GUE/NGL of the European Parliament