Europe against GMO crops! Please, sign the Avaaz petition! I already did.
It's us who decide, not Monsanto!!!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The new European order is coming?

Yesterday, our glorious president of the EC Mr. Barroso made a speech. A speech which kind of traumatized me. I am a huge fan of the EU. And this is why, I feel so offended by the way events develop recently. And especially by Barroso's speech. You can hear excerpts from it here or read the whole speech (I believe).
But before I comment on the speech itself, I'd like to present to you an article in NY Times that deeply impressed me and which is very relevant when considering the points proposed by Barroso.
Presidential Policy vs. Fed Policy on Jobs
"But Mr. Bernanke doesn’t have to wait for democratic machinations to play themselves out. (..) The important point is that he doesn’t have to contend with matters like legislation and Congressional votes. Not only can he act more or less at will, he also has the freedom to act with unbelievable force.

It’s something he did in the depths of the financial crisis. Almost single-handedly, Mr. Bernanke was able to get an additional $1 trillion pumped into the economy, something a politician can only dream of.

Something similar is now going on in Europe. The European Central Bank, under its president, Mario Draghi, has recently taken a more aggressive stance in its efforts to bring down the borrowing costs of nations like Spain and Italy. It has had a lot of success, perhaps more success than politicians’ policies to do the same.

Mr. Bernanke and Mr. Draghi are no doubt uncomfortable about the power they now have in relation to politicians. And they probably cannot wait for the day when they can go back to tinkering with monetary policy at the margins. The danger, however, is that the economy becomes dependent on the huge central bank stimulus. The longer it remains, the more the power of the Fed increases, perhaps at the expense of democratically elected politicians."

In short, my major fear is that using the crisis as an excuse, the Fed and the ECB gain immense power in their hands, without proper control from democratically elected representatives. And while the situation with the Fed is not ours to worry about, the vague possibility of the ECB copying it in Europe makes my hair stand on end. Because I believe in Europe, and in the European Union, and I want a better future for us. Democracy might have its flaws, but so far it's the best thing we came up with. I don't want to lose it, just because people are to scared to see the threat when it presents itself. And when you hear something like "Because when you are on a boat in the middle of the storm, absolute loyalty is the minimum you demand from your fellow crew members." (from the speech), you get a very nasty feeling of deja vu. People from Eastern Europe would know what I'm talking about. "a Decisive Deal for Europe" sounds awfully close to a communist rhetoric. And that's something which shouldn't be allowed to progress - the idea that those who are not with us are against us and that everyone needs to be absolutely loyal and so on.

Don't get me wrong, I'm also a federalist. There's nothing wrong in principle with the idea of a fiscal union, or a common prosecutors office, or the supervisory functions of the ECB. Or the whole bunch of other good ideas mentioned in the speech, which are basically known for years and nobody bothered to follow through with them. The real problem comes when those ideas meet the reality. And the net reality is that countries in Europe are not equal. The net reality is that you cannot go toward a federation, when you don't allow the free movement of people - for example the Roma problems in France or the complete denial of the Dutches to allow Bulgaria and Romania in Schengen even though we fulfilled all the requirements. Or even if you ignore the Roma problems, you still have the fact that many countries still won't allow for Bulgarians and Romanians to work there and threat citizens from Eastern Europe like 3d hand people.
But that's just the tip of the iceberg. More importantly there isn't a pan-European mechanism of social and health security, which will guarantee that if a French person works 5 years in France, 15 in Spain, 15 in Italy and 5 in Poland and then she decides she wants to retires in Denmark, she will get all the social and health benefits she worked for her whole life without much of bureaucratic effort. I mean this is extremely serious and without it, people are simply not free to move and work anywhere in Europe, the way they are in the USA. Furthermore, you have all the hurdles of marriages and name-conventions for children of cross-country marriages. Or even worst, when it comes to divorces and parents from larger member-states get the children by default. You have the huge difference in the social and health insurances and benefits over Europe. You have the protectionism when it comes to hiring a worker from another European country. You have the agricultural quotas which are the clearest example why the EU is not a free-trade Union. You have the different subsidies for agriculture in different countries. You have the different subsidies for local companies and producers.
And on top of everything, you have Germany. Germany who has the biggest influence in Europe, with the biggest industry, all parts of which are very well protected by European legislation, tailored especially for them. Is it fair? No! Is it productive? HELL, NO! Even in science, you can see the biggest chunk of the European money going again to Germany and France, not always on the base of merit.
Yes, Mr. Barroso, you're right, there is a huge crisis of the confidence in the EC in Europe. But it is because people are not blind or stupid. They see and they react to your own actions (or inactions). How about the recent proposal of the Troyka overseeing Greece to remove any limitations of the work hours, increasing it up to 78 hours per weeek?! This makes 11.09h per day, 7 days a week. Where in Europe people work that much? Ok, some people certainly work even more, but they do it on their own will. Nowhere in Europe such work week is not made a law. Because it amounts to slavery!!! I mean who can have a normal life by working 11 hours a day, 7 days a week (or 13 hours, 6 days a week), needing about 2.5 more hours to eat, and at least 3 more hours to travel, shop, cook, clean up and shower. That basically amounts to 17 hours a day, leaving you with less than 8 hours to sleep! Social life is not included. Kids, family, studying and self-development are not included. Who can live like that forever? Is this what the EU is about - legalizing slavery?! Because it certainly looks this way. And yeah, even if people wanted to work that much, what would they work?! Sit in the administration 11.09 hours a day and sharpen a pencils? Teach students for 11 hours a day? Grow vegetables for 11 hours a day? The increase of productivity is not equal to the time spent working in many many sectors. Especially in shattered economy, with huge unemployment.
But back to Barroso speech. He is very passionate on federal Europe. About European parties. But which parties...oh, well, mostly his party. Because Mr. Barroso wants to continue to be a President of the EC forever. Or at least one more mandate. And then one more. However, for those two mandates, he didn't show any consistence or vision of the future of the Union. He was never the one to stand out and to defend the EU or its ways. Not to mention that people of his Commission, where the ones to plan, create, sign (in secret) and defend ACTA, they even tried to HIDE the legislation from the European Parliament and its official requests for information, ignored the opinion of the MEPs and made more than one parliamentary commissions trying to pass ACTA trough the EP. How is this for democracy? How is this for transparency or working in public interest? Defending with all legal means a proposal from which only limited companies will profit at the expense of the whole Europe! And don't tell me that Mr. Barroso didn't know about it! Or that Germany, the biggest single profiteer in the EU from ACTA didn't know or support it. So, if Germany doesn't mind fooling the EP, denying access to crucial information on this issue and over all defying democracy because of German interests, how could I be convinced that this won't happen again. I mean it happens all the time with German chemical corporations which pass whatever legislation they see fit. Or with the chief-scientists of the EU saying GMOs are actually good (thought not saying they are not bad for our health), only after Bayer started producing GMO potatoes. I'm strictly against GMO crops for commercial use on Earth, but it's a little bit odd that Europe was fighting so desperately against Monsanto, but when Germany came up with a GMO crop, EFSA say quickly "YEAAAH, GMOs are GOOOD!"
So, if we have so many examples of abuse of power from Germany, what to think for the new role of ECB to supervise banks, to grant and deny licenses, to get access to all the information held by those banks. It's kind of scary, no? Who is to control the ECB?! Because without control, there is abuse. That's the rule! There were hints in his speech, that it would be the EP who will control the ECB. But what will guarantee us that the ACTA story won't repeat? That the EP won't be left helpless and ignored? Or that the new control organ won't be overtaken by the EPP (generally controlled by Germany) which will monopolize it and ensure that the whole process becomes nontransparent and serving particular national interest.
Because Mr. Barroso, as good as it sounds the slogan "One Europe", there is no one Europe. You can make European integration your goal, but you cannot act as it is already a fact. Because it is not. And that's the reality and that's your starting point. The whole debt crisis is not a real thing. It's a virtual problem created and supported by certain circles. If you want to fight it, there are ways to do so. But don't use it as a bait, so that people would believe you. If you want people to start believing you, offer them something real. Like real social integration of Europe. Like a unification of the work market,  goods market, banks regulations, democratic rights, end of discrimination, and so on and so on.
Offer them something they can use. Nobody cares about the ECB and its supervisory functions! Nobody cares what you think or think not. Nobody cares about your well-written speech, full of good ideas, but without a vision of their implementation. People want real things which will make their life better for real. They want their rights as Europeans to be guaranteed everywhere they go in Europe, for the whole EU and for any European alike. Not the artificial separations of East and West, North and South. If you want governments to give up their sovereignty, you should offer something in return. And you are not. What you're offering them right now, is to become   provinces of the German Empire. True, some people don't mind, but some people do mind A LOT!

Anyway, below, you can see some quick recall on the events which happened in the last year with respect to the crisis. Things strangely repeat. People have those great ideas and then they give them up. In the end, we all pay. Because the politicians we choose are obviously incapable of taking responsibility and doing their job from the beginning to the end. Oh, well. People deserve their rulers. As long as we act as sheep, there always be a shepherd to guard and milk us.
  1. Sarkozy embraces German calls for EU treaty change, austerity
  2. Cameron wants to re-shape EU as a 'network'
  3. Barroso wants eurozone represented at IMF
  4. 6 Central Banks Act to Buy Time in Europe Crisis Merkel Seeks Swift Action on What May Be Long Job to Save the Euro
  5. Merkel Seeks Swift Action on What May Be Long Job to Save the Euro
  6. Huge Step Taken by Europe’s Bank to Abate a Crisis

Sarkozy embraces German calls for EU treaty change, austerity 

23 November 2011
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has embraced a German campaign for treaty change that could give European authorities intrusive powers to intervene in the national budgets of countries sharing the euro currency. The European Commission is due to present plans today (23 November) for greater fiscal surveillance in the eurozone.

France and Germany will soon propose amendments to the European Union treaty in response to the bloc's sovereign debt crisis, Sarkozy said on Tuesday.  "We will do everything not just to defend Europe but also to consolidate it."
EU paymaster Germany continues to block the two most widely touted exit routes from a crisis that is shaking the world economy – massive ECB intervention to buy government bonds, or joint issuance of eurozone debt in the form of Eurobonds. source

Cameron wants to re-shape EU as a 'network' 

15 November 2011
Britain must remain part of the European Union but use the current eurozone crisis as an opportunity to re-shape the Union as a network rather than a bloc, Prime Minister David Cameron said yesterday (14 November).
He made it clear, although he described himself as a eurosceptic, that Britain would remain in the EU, and that his country had "a profound national interest" in ensuring the resolution of the eurozone crisis.
Despite its anaemic performance, the British economy appears to be profiting from the eurozone crisis, economists have found. As a big economy outside the eurozone, the UK has become a haven for investors, who buy its sovereign debt bonds, shunning other countries such as France.  source

Barroso wants eurozone represented at IMF 

09 November 2011
The European Commission will propose by the end of November a “more consolidated representation” of the eurozone in bodies such as the International Monetary Fund, its President José Manuel Barroso said.

Big member states have been traditionally reluctant to give away their seats in international bodies and have thus far prevented any streamlining of the EU or eurozone external representation. As a consequence, the eurozone has no formal external representation and participation of eurozone representatives at IMF meetings or G20 summits are decided on an ad hoc basis.
The prevailing view within the Commission is that external representation should be assigned to the commissioner in charge of economic affairs, a position currently held by a Finn, Olli Rehn. source

6 Central Banks Act to Buy Time in Europe Crisis

By BINYAMIN APPELBAUM, November 30, 2011
WASHINGTON — The Federal Reserve and other major central banks moved on Wednesday to help foreign banks more easily borrow and lend money, seeking to forestall a breakdown of global financial markets and giving Europe more time to wrestle with its debts.
The latest round of interventions by central banks, including the expansion of an existing Fed program that lets foreign banks borrow dollars at a low interest rate, reflects growing concerns that Europe’s financial problems are hampering growth.  In a sign that the fallout is increasingly global, the Chinese central bank, which has sought to slow an overheated economy and inflation over the last year, also moved unexpectedly but independently Wednesday to encourage new lending by Chinese commercial banks.  source

Merkel Seeks Swift Action on What May Be Long Job to Save the Euro

BERLIN — Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday called for swift action to amend European treaties to address the underlying causes of the debt crisis that has shaken Europe and jeopardized the future of the common currency. It took years to negotiate and ratify the last major change, the Lisbon Treaty, after the failure of the previous effort to write a European constitution.
But Europe’s leaders are evidently hoping to use the shadow of impending crisis to speed the process.
Mrs. Merkel continued to oppose so-called euro bonds backed by all 17 members of the existing currency union, which embraces many different levels of economic strength ranging from struggling Greece to the export-driven German economy, which is seen as the powerhouse of Europe. She called the idea of euro bonds “unthinkable.”
Her comments with regard to the European Central Bank were more ambiguous. She defended the independence of the bank and said she would not comment on its decisions. A report on Friday in the newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung said she was prepared to tolerate more aggressive action by the bank to steady the most indebted nations.
Germany, she said, did not wish to dominate Europe. “That is far-fetched,” she said.  source

Greeks Balk at Paying Steep New Property Tax - Ioannis Chatzis is 86 and lives in a tiny, single room, surviving on a pension that is just enough to pay for food and care for his bedridden wife.  But in its latest push to raise cash, the Greek government sent him a new $372 real estate tax bill, incorporated into his October electric statement.
Mr. Chatzis says he is being asked to choose between lights and paying for his wife’s medicines, since he cannot afford both on his $720-a-month pension.

Europe’s Economic Powerhouse Drifts East - Germany has long sat at the center of the European economy, but Europe is no longer as central to Germany as it used to be.
With large parts of Europe still in an economic rut and struggling to cope with a debt crisis, Germany is increasingly deploying its money and energy outside the euro zone to fuel its robust growth.
German companies, instead of concentrating their investment overwhelmingly on countries like France and Italy, are sending a growing proportion of their euros to places like Poland, Russia, Brazil and especially China, which is already the largest market for Volkswagen and could soon be for Mercedes and BMW.
The German government is following suit, committing more diplomatic resources to its growing trade partners, particularly China, whose prime minister, Wen Jiabao, brought an entourage of 13 ministers and 300 managers when he visited Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany last month.
The economic shift is already having important consequences inside Europe. As Germany becomes less dependent on euro zone markets, there are signs that it is becoming stricter with its ailing partners, like Greece, Italy and Portugal, adding to the pressures already straining European unity.

The Italian economy, for example, is no longer cruising in Germany’s slipsteam. Indeed, despite the strong German economy, Italian exports to Germany were €3.2 billion lower in 2010 than in 2008.  “That is bad news for Italy,” Mr. Sondergaard said.
Where Germany puts its money is crucial to the 17-nation euro zone economy. Germany accounts for nearly a third of the euro area’s exports. Germany has a trade surplus so far this year, while France, Italy, Spain and the region as a whole have large deficits.
With decades of European economic integration under their belt, German companies still exported much more to France last year than to China — €91 billion compared with €54 billion.
But the gap is closing fast. Exports to China rose 44 percent in 2010 compared with a 12 percent increase for France.
Moreover, in 2009, German manufacturers for the first time invested more in China — €11.6 billion, a 50 percent increase from 2006 — than they did in France, which, along with Italy and Spain, is drawing markedly less German industrial investment than a few years ago.

Huge Step Taken by Europe’s Bank to Abate a Crisis
 September 6, 2012
FRANKFURT — The European Central Bank on Thursday took its most ambitious step yet toward easing the euro zone crisis, throwing its unlimited financial clout behind an effort to protect Spain and Italy from financial collapse.
The central bank, won nearly unanimous support from the bank’s board to buy vast amounts of government bonds, a move that would relieve investor pressure on troubled countries but also effectively spread responsibility for repaying national debts to the euro zone countries as a group.

The decision propels political leaders farther down the uncertain and winding road toward a Europe with centralized control over government spending and economic policy(..).

Mr. Draghi demonstrated once again that he may be Europe’s most powerful leader, perhaps the only one capable of brokering an accord among politicians whose national concerns and mistrust of one another have allowed the crisis to boil for two and a half years.

But there is a risk once again that monetary policy is moving faster than political leaders are able to create the institutions, such as a European bank supervisor, needed to ensure the survival of the common currency.

The bank and Mr. Draghi had the quiet support of all European leaders in taking this latest action, aimed at keeping bond speculators from driving Spain and Italy into budget-blowing borrowing costs. “The euro is irreversible,” he repeated several times Thursday.
Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany, voiced her approval during a visit to Spain on Thursday — a crucial victory for Mr. Draghi.
The bond-buying plan immediately reduced the financial pressure that had been building on Spain and Italy, even though those countries have not sought protection. source

Edit: I'm adding one very interesting map:


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