LEXIT – The Left Exit

June 29, 2016

lexitI invite all people who share the need for Lexit (= left exit) to join our discussions and campaigns and spread the Lexit Appeal!  The text below and signing the petition in address: http://lexit-network.org/appeal


Democracy and Popular Sovereignty instead of Neoliberal Integration and a failed Euro-System

This document was commonly developed by people from the Lexit Network. It was written and agreed before the Brexit referendum and was not intended to influence the popular vote one way or another.

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With the implementation of the European single market and the Maastricht Treaty, European integration was established as a neoliberal project for the long run. The Stability- and Growth Pact, the fundamental freedoms of the single market and the European monetary union, among other elements, constituted a framework that has fueled austerity policies, the dismantling of workers’ rights and the welfare state and imposed privatization throughout the EU member states.

Contrary to the theory of the EU as a neutral level playing field, the events after the Great Recession (2007/2009) have shown that the current European integration project is defined by the regressive nature of its treaties and by an unprecedented radicalization of its neoliberal character. Uneven and hierarchical power relations (core – periphery) have long been a feature of European integration, finally culminating in Germany’s dominance of the EU’s economic policy orientations after the Great Recession. The regulatory developments that accompanied the establishment of the Eurozone and the measures taken in response to the Euro crisis through the imposition of ever stricter and ever less legitimated rules and governance structures (EuroPlus-Pact, Firscal Compact, etc.) deepened the authoritarian, neoliberal nature of EU-integration. Thus, the current integration project became a threat to democracy and popular sovereignty.

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The Euro – A Currency of Crises

The Euro crisis is a product of the misconceived concept and architecture of the European Monetary Union (EMU) from its start, focused on austerity and disinflation as its main targets. Instead of leading to a process of economic and social convergence of Eurozone member states, real economic development (in terms of wages, productivity etc.) drifted ever more apart. EMU was finally creating huge macroeconomic imbalances (e.g. increasing current account deficits not only in the southern EU-periphery, but also in France and Italy; huge current account surpluses in Germany and some others) and, in the first stage, led to capital flows from the EU-core to periphery. This flood of cheap money propelled speculative bubbles based on real estate, finance, and the like, and also heavily increased private and public debt.

An important factor behind the imbalances was Germany’s drive to reduce unit labour costs via re-organizing the chains of value creation for Germany’s export industries with cheaper labour from Eastern Europe, wage dumping, tax dumping and social cuts.

A consequence was a huge pressure on weaker economies to increase the international competitiveness of their industries and services. Since in the framework of EMU they could not do so with monetary policy anymore, they proceeded with internal devaluation. In practical terms, this meant dismantling of the welfare state, extensive privatization of public services and structures, wage and social dumping, tax competition, attacks on collective bargaining, attempts to disorganize unions and demonization or extensive lay-off of public workers.

The Euro – A Tool for the Benefit of Finance Capital

It is important to remark that none of this happens because of some unforeseeable construction faults in the Eurozone: The Euro works well in the sense of its neoliberal designers. It works not towards some kind of economic balance among member states, economic growth and full employment. It works towards the destruction of labor rights, social security systems, public sectors and profit taxation and towards the imposition of publicly financed bank-bailouts.

This is how the Euro works in political terms: It pushes its members into ever more downward competition in which the economic position of each member state can only be improved by policies against the majority of the population and for the benefit of international capital. It creates a downwards spiral which brings wages, pensions, social benefits, public employment, public investment, etc. to the bottom.

As the events in Greece in summer 2015 have shown quite clearly, the Eurozone governance structure is not open for policies that follow the democratically expressed view of the majority of people if they run counter to the neoliberal agenda. When the Syriza-led government tried to implement its program – strengthened by the Oxi-referendum – the ECB used its financial weapons to force the government to capitulate and sign another memorandum.

The Euro – A Bad Idea That Cannot Be Turned into a Good One

As has been proven conclusively by countless authors, the Eurozone does not meet the requirements for a functioning monetary area, nor is it to be expected that it will meet such requirements in the future. Among other measures, a functioning monetary area with very different levels of productivity and economic structures, as it is the case in the Eurozone, would require massive financial transfers in order to revert economic imbalances. Reliable analysis show that this would entail the redistribution of some 10% of Eurozone’s GDP from stronger to weaker economies, a step which is not only unfeasible in political terms, but also undesirable: As all precedents in the Eurozone have shown, the governments of donor countries would use this position to influence national policies in recipient countries, trampling on democracy. The last years showed how fast such a system undermines popular sovereignty, divides the peoples of Europe and creates room for xenophobia.

Ultimately, the option of a democratic, federal European state that does not reflect the uneven relations of power among the current member states would require a European civil society that is not given, nor can it be pushed into existence from above.

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Lexit – The Way to Effectively Fight Neoliberalism and Uphold Democracy

Against the background of the alarming loss of democratic rights, dismantling of welfare states and privatization of public goods, the emancipatory forces in Europe need to propose workable, credible alternatives based on popular sovereignty to the current project of authoritarian neoliberal integration. That is why a Lexit (left exit) must be advanced as a tool to reclaim Democracy.

The alarming upturn of the far right in most Euro countries results inter alia from their position against the EU and Euro governance systems. Their political proposals are misleading: Anti-euro right forces for example are fighting for further controls over immigration while do not make any claim for controls over indiscriminate capital mobility to and from countries pursuing policies of downward wage competition. For them, it would be enough to stop free circulation of people in Europe and abandon the Euro area by leaving currencies determined by free market forces and speculation: We could call this horrendous synthesis “xenophobic neoliberalism”.

If we want to avoid this scenario, we need a Lexit: An internationalist alternative based on popular sovereignty, fraternity, social rights and defense of workers’ conditions and the commons.

The unsustainability of the Eurozone is an objective fact. Sooner or later, it will impose a choice of alternative exit routes from the Euro, right wing or left wing, each of them with very different effects on the social classes involved. We explicitly state that the goal of Lexit is to develop emancipatory Left strategies to exit the Euro and to overcome neoliberal integration. The discussion has already begun and several proposals are on the table:

We invite all people who share the need for Lexit to join our discussions and campaigns!


My article related BREXIT and forwards: EU Reaching Cul-De-Sac Due Brexit – Revival Of Confederalism Necessary


EU Reaching Cul-De-Sac Due Brexit – Revival Of Confederalism Necessary

June 25, 2016

When you look into all this bizarre activity of the European Union with its 80,000 pages of regulations it looks like Gosplan. (Vladimir Bukovsky)

Nimetön (97)The EU was and still partly is a bold and unique project. It resembles less that of the United States of America and more that of the Soviet Union. Until the last decade the EU has been more or less a community of democratic nations. In my opinion EU has been moving more and more towards Federalism and in Eurozone even towards Unitary system; from my perspective now is the time make an u-turn and start to develop EU towards (Democratic) Confederalism.

While the USSR was a communist dictatorship the EU has been following its steps last years due a full-on economic crisis. Vladimir Bukovsky a former soviet dissident, once made a comparison: ‘We were told, that the purpose of the Soviet Union is to create a new historic entity, the soviet people, and that we must forget our nationalities, our ethnic traditions and customs. The same seems to be true to the European Union. They don’t want you to be British or French, they want you to be a new historic entity: European.’ There is amazing similarity in decision making between EU and ex-Soviet Union. USSR had also some “democratic” institutions like parliament and government, but the real power was in party machine and its politburo”. Anyway as USSR already went so shutdown of EU has now started due BREXIT and hopefully soon will it be possible to celebrate EU remembrance Day.

 I share in the highest degree the ideas of Abdullah Öcalan’s – leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party -paper on Democratic Confederalism . He e.g. notes

that Democratic confederalism is based on grass-roots participation. Its decision-making processes lie with the communities. Higher levels only serve the coordination and implementation of the will of the communities that send their delegates to the general assemblies. For limited space of time they are both mouthpiece and executive institutions. However, the basic power of decision rests with the local grass-roots institutions.

Although in democratic confederalism the focus is on the local level, organizing confederalism globally is not excluded.

 

From history: The supranational organisation planned by Nazis?

‘In 50 years’ time nobody will think of nation states.’ (Joseph Goebbels)

EU gratuitously got Nobel award as a peace project: to underscore the very reason that it was created on 9 May 1950, which was to limit any future wars or conflicts on the continent (more in my article Devaluation of Nobel Peace Prize Continues But EU Could Show Way For Better Crisis Management ). An alternative history shows that EU is continuation of war with economic means. This view came to my mind while reading about now published secret report about how Nazis were planning the Fourth Reich.

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The document, also known as the Red House Report, is a detailed account of a secret meeting at the Maison Rouge Hotel in Strasbourg on August 10, 1944. There, Nazi officials ordered an elite group of German industrialists to plan for Germany’s post-war recovery, prepare for the Nazis’ return to power and work for a ‘strong German empire’. In other words: the Fourth Reich.detailed how the industrialists were to work with the Nazi Party to rebuild Germany’s economy by sending money through Switzerland.

They would set up a network of secret front companies abroad. They would wait until conditions were right. And then they would take over Germany again. The industrialists included representatives of Volkswagen, Krupp and Messerschmitt. Officials from the Navy and Ministry of Armaments were also at the meeting and, with incredible foresight, they decided together that the Fourth German Reich, unlike its predecessor, would be an economic rather than a military empire – but not just German. The Third Reich was defeated militarily, but powerful Nazi-era bankers, industrialists and civil servants, reborn as democrats, soon prospered in the new West Germany. There they worked for a new cause: European economic and political integration.

Ludwig Erhard (economist) pondered how German industry could expand its reach across the shattered European continent. The answer was through supranationalism – the voluntary surrender of national sovereignty to an international body. German industrialists were also members of the European League for Economic Co-operation, an elite intellectual pressure group set up in 1946. The league was dedicated to the establishment of a common market, the precursor of the European Union. Ludwig Erhard flourished in post-war Germany. Adenauer made Erhard Germany’s first post-war economics minister. In 1963 Erhard succeeded Adenauer as Chancellor for three years.

Germany and France were the drivers behind the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), the precursor to the European Union. The ECSC was the first supranational organisation, established in April 1951 by six European states. It created a common market for coal and steel which it regulated. This set a vital precedent for the steady erosion of national sovereignty, a process that continues today. However one should remember that the German economic miracle – so vital to the idea of a new Europe – was built on mass murder and gold looted from the treasuries of Nazi-occupied countries and that a European federal state is inexorably tangled up with the plans of the SS and German industrialists for a Fourth Reich – an economic rather than military empire.

Scientists can argue if this alternative view about EU origins is valid or not, however in my opinion e.g. EU’s actions with financial crisis during last years give cause for claim that this alternative history might be true.

[Source: I have summarized this secret report item from: The secret report that shows how the Nazis planned a Fourth Reich – in the EU by Adam Lebor]

 

European Parliament?

Forgetting EU’s organogram as illusion and speaking today’s reality one can easily find different decision making practices in EU depending about importance of issue. Most important core group is cooperation between France and Germany sometimes earlier (pre-€) adding UK to group. Commission of course has great de facto power not only on implementation level but also designing proposals handled in EUs inner cores; the same can be said about bureaucrats in national ministries who are designing policies decided EU meetings at summit/ministry levels.

So where is this leaving European Parliament? It may handle some energy bulb level issues but honestly the whole institution seems to be unnecessary creation only to keep some democratic illusion on show. As EU citizens are not so stupid to keep his institution more than a puppet theatre they show their attitude by low turnout percentage. Before one EU Parliament elections I proposed and argued (in my article Let’s elect Donkey Parliament) why replacing MEPs with monkeys might not be so bad idea. Today EP is practical place to locate some second class politicians for retirement or out to not make any mess in national policy. They also can show good places to get fresh mussels while voters are visiting in EP as their quests. Designing EU policy happens anyway somewhere else.

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EU today

The two dominating trends among EU leaders are to cut losses of players in virtual economy at the expense of taxpayers and to guide EU towards strict federation at the expense of democracy. (Ari Rusila)

In EU today the ‘austerity’ measures are destroying national economies making it impossible for them to ever to pay back those debts created by banksters of virtual economy and their political cabals. At grassroots people have become the victim of parasitic credit capitalism and its unelected institutions. Neoliberal capitalism has been winning ground last 30 years. During last five years emergency economics has made it possible to replace democracy with debtocracy. EU and especially Eurozone today is in condition which was recognized by Abraham Lincoln already one and half century ago as follows:

“I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me, and causes me to tremble for the safety of our country. Corporations have been enthroned, an era of corruption will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people, until the wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the republic is destroyed.” (Roberts, Archibald E., Bulletin–Committee to Restore the Constitution, Feb. 1989, p. 6 )

Coming back to present-day EU I see two dominating trends among EU leaders: First is to cut losses of players in virtual economy at the expense of taxpayers and the second is to guide EU towards strict federation at the expense of democracy. Change to this is needed for saving 99 % of people instead saving profits of the rest one per cent. With today’s strategy there is a risk that the combination of economic insecurity and political paralysis has been recipe for an increase in extremism and xenophobia. It is slow motion death spiral of economic collapse. That is the base to my view that people and the real world should be the first priority and not virtual economy, fiscal system, euro or EU elite. In my opinion it is time to whistle game out, collect losses and start new game in Day after Euro/EU context.

It would seem nowadays that the Eurozone leaders have decided to place the region under Martial law. Old principles about democracy, subsidiarity etc are forgotten. From my viewpoint intervene again and again into something that is not going to work in the long run is the wrong medicine.

 

Way forward

England-EU-OutEU Out movement now got big boost due BREXIT.The Britons had their own motivation to pull out from EU as well other populist movements in EU (to keep poor immigrants out, rich ones can buy entrance anyway as usual) and leftist grassroot movements (to stop austerity measures). Whatever reasons are the aim is against EU’s federalist development.

Quite common view is that EU is an opaque bureaucracy cut off from the citizens it was (publicly) intended to serve. The unofficial core and value of EU in my opinion is that EU is a system to protect, favor and facilitate the interests of big economic powers. A steady decline in voter turnout over the past three decades for European elections has lent credence to the idea that citizens feel increasingly estranged from the European project. The crisis appears to be making this worse by prompting politicians to rush through policies that concentrate more power in Brussels with limited public understanding or support.

From my point of view subsidiary principle should be widen so that more legislation should be implemented at national level and those few remaining issues could be decided between governments and implemented by slimmed European Commission and its agencies. With this approach the whole EP could be closed as useless extra body. This outcome – which I have called as EU lite version – is about the opposite to ongoing federalist tendency and indeed I support rebuilding EU with Confederalist approach. This subject I dealt recently with my article My 1st May Manifesto .

The best scenario from my point of view could be some kind of EU Lite version. A bit of similar ”privileged partnership” agreement than planed with Turkey (to keep it out from EU). EU Lite should be build simply to EU’s early basics as economical cooperation area including a customs union, the EU tariff band, competition etc linked to idea of the Common Market. EU Lite could also apply a structure of Confederation. Federalist intentions, the EU puppet parliament and the most of EU bureaucracy should from my point of view put in litter basket together with high-flown statements and other nonsense. In my opinion average citizen does not need EU to decide how wide tires one have in tractor or how big curve bananas can have. Most topics can more democratic way be handled at national level. For international affairs – e.g climachange, civil liberties, development aid – there are lot of official forums as well NGO-cooperation.

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Even I sited Lincoln above I see some benefits with Confederalist view in new desirable politics. Policy-making starts from community assemblies based on the practices of participatory democracy and continues further by interlinking villages, towns, neighborhoods, and cities into confederal networks. Power thus flows from the bottom up instead of from the top down like today. With critical issues – such as human rights, civil liberties, international policy etc political units can adopt a common constitution while the task of central governments would be providing support for all members. Democratic Confederalism is based on grass-roots participation. Its decision-making processes lie with the communities; in conclusion my vision is decentralized society a network of directly democratic citizens’ assemblies in individual communities/cities organized in a confederal fashion.

Sure the scenario above can be seen as Utopian – however from my perspective the process or moving towards that Utopia is the core question.

 

Epilogue

Financial speculators, banksters and EU elite can congratulate themselves for creating such a massive well connected system –called EU that it is hard to break. The citizens have enjoyed from few benefits such as student exchange programme, Schengen area and common agricultural policy which subsidized farmers to produce goods that nobody wanted, dumped excess supply on world markets creating falling incomes for world farmers. The decline of EU as actor in international politics continues with its disastrous European External Action Service (=foreign policy, EEAS) so that the union can concentrate to its core function as distributor of agricultural funds and as aggregate of high-flown statements. The present challenge is, how to distance unsatisfied citizens and state parliaments away from disturbing egocentric and self-governing elite. I hope that grassroots finally will get fed up with this experiment and starts to demand some power back.

My bottom line:

  • People first system after
  • Power flow from the bottom up
  • Money for the people not the banks
  • From private to public money creation
  • Real economy instead of virtual economy
  • Investor risk instead of taxpayers risk

Nimetön (96)

 


WikiLeaks published New Secret TiSA Documents

December 15, 2015

wlogo-smWikiLeaks has released new secret documents from the huge Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) which is being negotiated by the US, EU and 22 other countries that account for 2/3rds of global GDP.   WikiLeaks has also published expert analyses of the documents.

From WikiLeaks press release:

 

The Trade In Services Agreement is the largest trade treaty of its kind in history. The economies of the 52 countries involved in the negotiation, which is being led by the United States, are mostly the supply of services. According to World Bank figures, services comprise 75% of the EU economy, 80% of the US economy and the majority of the global economy.  Notably excluded in the TiSA negotiations are the emerging economies and the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).

The “Energy Related Services Annex Proposal: Questions and Answers” document sets out TiSA designs to create an international market in energy-related services for foreign suppliers. While heads of state prepare to sign climate accords in Paris, TiSA negotiators are meeting behind closed doors in Geneva to forge new limits on energy regulation.

The “Annex on Environmental Services” reveals that TiSA will aim to ensure that national environmental protections within TiSA countries will be “harmonized down”, promoting the interests of multinational companies providing water purification, sanitation and refuse disposal services over worker safety, public health and the natural environment. Assessing the agreement, Friends of the Earth calls TiSA “an environmental hazard”, pointing out that public services of an environmentally sensitive nature are in danger of being privatized. Commenting on the “Annex on Road Freight Transport and Related Logistical Services”, the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) calls TiSA a “race to the bottom,” observing that the Annex joins other Annexes published by WikiLeaks to form an overarching trade liberalization agenda, fragmenting the trucking industry, opening up sensitive areas of the transport sector to international competition, and contributing to the ongoing privatization of public services, undercutting workers’ rights, public health and safety, and the ability of national governments to plan and direct their own industrial and infrastructural development.

While the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Pact (TTIP) have received attention, the TiSA is the largest component of the United States’ “Big Three,” the triumvirate of strategic neoliberal trade deals being advanced by the Obama administration. Together, the three treaties form not only a new legal order hospitable for transnational corporations, but a new economic “grand enclosure”, which excludes China and all other BRICS countries.

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And here the new documents:

December TiSA Publication

TiSA Texts
December publication of Chapters and Annexes of the TiSA text under negotiation.
Document Document Date WikiLeaks Publication Date
Energy Related Services (ERS) Annex Proposal: Questions and Answers December 2014 December 03, 2015
TiSA – Energy Related Services (Proposal by Norway/Iceland) December 03, 2015
Expert analysis on Energy Related Services (ERS) Annex December 03, 2015
Annex on Environmental Services December 2014 December 03, 2015
Expert analysis on Trade in Environmental Services Annex December 03, 2015
Annex on Road Freight Transport and Related Logistics Services July 30, 2015 December 03, 2015
Expert Analysis on Road Freight Transport and Related Logistics Services. December 03, 2015

And here the documents published earlier:

July TiSA Publication


June TiSA Publication

TiSA Texts
Chapters and Annexes of the TiSA text under negotiation.

Document Document Date WikiLeaks Publication Date
TiSA Annex on Air Transport Services February 9, 2015 June 3, 2015
Analysis of TiSA Annex on Air Transport Services June 3, 2015
TiSA Annex on Competitive Delivery Services April 16, 2014 June 3, 2015
Analysis of TiSA Annex on Delivery Services June 3, 2015
TiSA Annex on Domestic Regulation February 20, 2015 June 3, 2015
Analysis of TiSA Annex on Domestic Regulation June 3, 2015
TiSA Annex on Electronic Commerce February 20, 2015 June 3, 2015
Analysis of TiSA Annex on Electronic Commerce June 3, 2015
TiSA Annex on International Maritime Transport Services February 10, 2015 June 3, 2015
Analysis of TiSA Annex on International Maritime Transport Services June 3, 2015
TiSA Annex on Movement of Natural Persons February 13, 2015 June 3, 2015
TiSA Annex on Professional Services February 13, 2015 June 3, 2015
TISA Annex on Telecommunications Services February 20, 2015 June 3, 2015
TiSA Annex on Financial Services February 23, 2015 June 3, 2015
Analysis of TiSA Annex on Financial Servicess June 3, 2015
TiSA Annex on Transparency January 23, 2015 June 3, 2015
Analysis of TiSA Annex on Transparency June 3, 2015
TiSA Annex on Transparency April 16, 2014 June 3, 2015
TiSA Annex on Financial Services April 14, 2014 June 19, 2014
Analysis of TiSA Annex on Financial Services June 19, 2014
TiSA Market Analyses
Market Access Negotiations documents are requests for a schedule of commitments from one of the negotiating Parties to another.
Document Document Date WikiLeaks Publication Date
TiSA Market Access – Israel January 25, 2015 June 3, 2015
TiSA Market Access – Turkey January 25, 2015 June 3, 2015
TiSA Related Documents
Other documents related to the TiSA negotiation process.
Document Document Date WikiLeaks Publication Date
TiSA Cover Note TPC (EU reservations) February 19, 2015 June 3, 2015
TiSA Japan Analysis of Committed Related Provisions February 9, 2015 June 3, 2015
TiSA Japan Separate From And Accountable February 16, 2015 June 3, 2015
TiSA Japan UPU Clarification on USO November 28, 2014 June 3, 2015

Top Priority of EU Foreign Policy: A New ‘Jude’ Badge

April 23, 2015

emergencyssxfoiWhen fragile Minsk II for Ukraine is ‘to be or not to be’ stage, while 21 Ethiopian Christians were beheaded in Libya and while hundreds of refugees drowned in the Mediterranean and while there the increasing chaos in the Maghreb region and in the Middle East with increasing refugee problem, when Palestinians are being brutally murdered by ISIL in refugee camps in Syria, so during these ongoing conflicts it might be difficult to decide about priorities of EU foreign policy. However EU Foreign ministers found an easy and cheap solution – their top priority is labelling Israeli products from the disputed territories (West Bank).

16 of the European Union’s (EU) 28 foreign ministers co-signed a letter to EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, urging her to advance the creation of guidelines to separately label goods produced in the West Bank as part of an economic offensive on Israel. The labeling plan was first mooted in 2012, but the 16 member states told EU foreign affairs head Federica Mogherini it was now time to press ahead as part of efforts to force Israel to divide in a “two state solution.”

When the whole MENA region risks falling into an abyss of war and genocide EU foreign ministers choose to attack the only stable democracy in the region, namely Israel. And this attack even does not help Palestinians as its effect might be totally opposite.

In response, a senior Israeli diplomat told the EU “labeling products from Judea and Samaria is a yellow badge,” referencing the “Jude” stars the Nazis forced Jews to wear during the Holocaust. One should note that the letter was signed in same week when it was Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel.

bds-bigotry-double-standards-bigotryThe letter was signed by Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz and drafted by his Belgian counterpart Didier Reynders who also signed it. UK, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Malta, Ireland, Portugal, Slovenia, Croatia, Finland, Denmark, The Netherlands and Luxembourg were the other signatories.

 

 

Palestinian workers come under threat due BDS

The number of Palestinians working for Israelis on either side of the Green Line doubled in the last four years and now make up 2.2 percent of all workers in the country, according to the Bank of Israel’s upcoming 2014 annual report. The 92,000 Palestinians who work for Israelis make on average NIS 198 per day, while their peers in the Palestinian territories make just 45% of that, on average, or NIS 91 per day, according to the report. According to a Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics report published in February 2014, there were 105,200 Palestinians employed in Israel, including 20,200 in the settlements. (Source: Jpost )

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According to Israeli law, Palestinian workers are entitled to employment terms and rights guaranteed by Israeli labor laws. Based on a 2007 Supreme Court ruling, they should enjoy the same rights enjoyed by Israeli workers.

The September 21 [2014] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida article, translated by Palestinian Media Watch, said that “whenever Palestinian workers have the opportunity to work for Israeli employers, they are quick to quit their jobs with their Palestinian employers – for reasons having to do with salaries and other rights.” Wael Nazif, CEO of the Union of Palestinian Workers’ Organizations in the Jericho district, said it was “inconceivable that the Palestinian worker should receive his full rights from the Israeli employers but not from the Palestinian ones.” Surveys and interviews conducted by Al-Hayat Al-Jadida clarify that the salaries of workers employed by Palestinians amount to less than half the salaries of those who work for Israeli employers in the areas of the Israel-occupied  West Bank, which house factories, tourist facilities and agricultural lands. Although the Palestinian Authority has criminalized working in the settlements but given the high unemployment rate PA do not enforce the law that criminalizes work in the settlements.

Daniel-Birnbaum-CEO-SodaStream-Forward-BDS-quote-01There are 15 industrial zones in territory Israel seized in the 1967 war. They have about 1,000 plants — sophisticated aluminum and food manufacturers as well as tiny textile and furniture workshops — that pump roughly $300 million into the Palestinian economy through salaries .

My view

The proposed labelling of Israeli goods from the disputed territories is giving supporting message to the growing anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish sentiments in Europe, while EU instead should promote cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians. The letter might reflect EU frustration over the re-election of Prime Minister Netanyahu and his recent remarks on the difficulties of creating a Palestinian state in the current circumstances.

One should note that the employment of Palestinians, including refugees, is one of the main problems that must be solved if the stability of the region is to be ensured. Instead of BDS foreign investment to West Bank and Gaza should be encouraged; restrictions on marketing West Bank and Gaza produce in Israel, Europe and the rest of world should be removed to create employment opportunities for the Palestinians. Beside salaries Israeli enterprises provide rare opportunities for coexistence between the two peoples.

My related earlier article (in Finnish): SodaStream rauhanmallina

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P.S:  The BDS  poster below can be used also opposite way – as shopping list of Israeli products

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 and more:boycott_israeli_products_2014_by_islamalive-d7tnyns


TTIP Documents Leaked

February 27, 2015

The EU’s draft position on TTIP and specifically the part that refers to EU and member states commitments and reservations on specific issues regarding goods and services was leaked to the BBC. The 103 page document, entitled “TRADE IN SERVICES AND INVESTMENT SCHEDULE OF SPECIFIC COMMITMENTS AND RESERVATIONS” is available


here


for download. 


The New Drivers of Europe’s Geopolitics By George Friedman

January 27, 2015

The New Drivers of Europe’s Geopolitics  by George Friedman is republished with permission of Stratfor.”

For the past two weeks, I have focused on the growing fragmentation of Europe. Two weeks ago, the murders in Paris prompted me to write about the fault line between Europe and the Islamic world. Last week, I wrote about the nationalism that is rising in individual European countries after the European Central Bank was forced to allow national banks to participate in quantitative easing so European nations wouldn’t be forced to bear the debt of other nations. I am focusing on fragmentation partly because it is happening before our eyes, partly because Stratfor has been forecasting this for a long time and partly because my new book on the fragmentation of Europe — Flashpoints: The Emerging Crisis in Europe — is being released today.

This is the week to speak of the political and social fragmentation within European nations and its impact on Europe as a whole. The coalition of the Radical Left party, known as Syriza, has scored a major victory in Greece. Now the party is forming a ruling coalition and overwhelming the traditional mainstream parties. It is drawing along other left-wing and right-wing parties that are united only in their resistance to the EU’s insistence that austerity is the solution to the ongoing economic crisis that began in 2008.

Two Versions of the Same Tale

The story is well known. The financial crisis of 2008, which began as a mortgage default issue in the United States, created a sovereign debt crisis in Europe. Some European countries were unable to make payment on bonds, and this threatened the European banking system. There had to be some sort of state intervention, but there was a fundamental disagreement about what problem had to be solved. Broadly speaking, there were two narratives.

The German version, and the one that became the conventional view in Europe, is that the sovereign debt crisis is the result of irresponsible social policies in Greece, the country with the greatest debt problem. These troublesome policies included early retirement for government workers, excessive unemployment benefits and so on. Politicians had bought votes by squandering resources on social programs the country couldn’t afford, did not rigorously collect taxes and failed to promote hard work and industriousness. Therefore, the crisis that was threatening the banking system was rooted in the irresponsibility of the debtors.

Another version, hardly heard in the early days but far more credible today, is that the crisis is the result of Germany’s irresponsibility. Germany, the fourth-largest economy in the world, exports the equivalent of about 50 percent of its gross domestic product because German consumers cannot support its oversized industrial output. The result is that Germany survives on an export surge. For Germany, the European Union — with its free-trade zone, the euro and regulations in Brussels — is a means for maintaining exports. The loans German banks made to countries such as Greece after 2009 were designed to maintain demand for its exports. The Germans knew the debts could not be repaid, but they wanted to kick the can down the road and avoid dealing with the fact that their export addiction could not be maintained.

If you accept the German narrative, then the policies that must be followed are the ones that would force Greece to clean up its act. That means continuing to impose austerity on the Greeks. If the Greek narrative is correct, than the problem is with Germany. To end the crisis, Germany would have to curb its appetite for exports and shift Europe’s rules on trade, the valuation of the euro and regulation from Brussels while living within its means. This would mean reducing its exports to the free-trade zone that has an industry incapable of competing with Germany’s.

The German narrative has been overwhelmingly accepted, and the Greek version has hardly been heard. I describe what happened when austerity was imposed in Flashpoints:

But the impact on Greece of government cuts was far greater than expected. Like many European countries, the Greeks ran many economic activities, including medicine and other essential services, through the state, making physicians and other health care professionals government employees. When cuts were made in public sector pay and employment, it deeply affected the professional and middle classes.

Over the course of several years, unemployment in Greece rose to over 25 percent. This was higher than unemployment in the United States during the Depression. Some said that Greece’s black economy was making up the difference and things weren’t that bad. That was true to some extent but not nearly as much as people thought, since the black economy was simply an extension of the rest of the economy, and business was bad everywhere. In fact the situation was worse than it appeared to be, since there were many government workers who were still employed but had had their wages cut drastically, many by as much as two-thirds.

The Greek story was repeated in Spain and, to a somewhat lesser extent, in Portugal, southern France and southern Italy. Mediterranean Europe had entered the European Union with the expectation that membership would raise its living standards to the level of northern Europe. The sovereign debt crisis hit them particularly hard because in the free trade zone, this region had found it difficult to develop its economies, as it would have normally. Therefore the first economic crisis devastated them.

Regardless of which version you believe to be true, there is one thing that is certain: Greece was put in an impossible position when it agreed to a debt repayment plan that its economy could not support. These plans plunged it into a depression it still has not recovered from — and the problems have spread to other parts of Europe.

Seeds of Discontent

There was a deep belief in the European Union and beyond that the nations adhering to Europe’s rules would, in due course, recover. Europe’s mainstream political parties supported the European Union and its policies, and they were elected and re-elected. There was a general feeling that economic dysfunction would pass. But it is 2015 now, the situation has not gotten better and there are growing movements in many countries that are opposed to continuing with austerity. The sense that Europe is shifting was visible in the European Central Bank’s decision last week to ease austerity by increasing liquidity in the system. In my view, this is too little too late; although quantitative easing might work for a recession, Southern Europe is in a depression. This is not merely a word. It means that the infrastructure of businesses that are able to utilize the money has been smashed, and therefore, quantitative easing’s impact on unemployment will be limited. It takes a generation to recover from a depression. Interestingly, the European Central Bank excluded Greece from the quantitative easing program, saying the country is far too exposed to debt to allow the risk of its central bank lending.

Virtually every European country has developed growing movements that oppose the European Union and its policies. Most of these are on the right of the political spectrum. This means that in addition to their economic grievances, they want to regain control of their borders to limit immigration. Opposition movements have also emerged from the left — Podemos in Spain, for instance, and of course, Syriza in Greece. The left has the same grievances as the right, save for the racial overtones. But what is important is this: Greece has been seen as the outlier, but it is in fact the leading edge of the European crisis. It was the first to face default, the first to impose austerity, the first to experience the brutal weight that resulted and now it is the first to elect a government that pledges to end austerity. Left or right, these parties are threatening Europe’s traditional parties, which the middle and lower class see as being complicit with Germany in creating the austerity regime.

Syriza has moderated its position on the European Union, as parties are wont to moderate during an election. But its position is that it will negotiate a new program of Greek debt repayments to its European lenders, one that will relieve the burden on the Greeks. There is reason to believe that it might succeed. The Germans don’t care if Greece pulls out of the euro. Germany is, however, terrified that the political movements that are afoot will end or inhibit Europe’s free-trade zone. Right-wing parties’ goal of limiting the cross-border movement of workers already represents an open demand for an end to the free-trade zone for labor. But Germany, the export addict, needs the free-trade zone badly.

This is one of the points that people miss. They are concerned that countries will withdraw from the euro. As Hungary showed when the forint’s decline put its citizens in danger of defaulting on mortgages, a nation-state has the power to protect its citizens from debt if it wishes to do so. The Greeks, inside or outside the eurozone, can also exercise this power. In addition to being unable to repay their debt structurally, they cannot afford to repay it politically. The parties that supported austerity in Greece were crushed. The mainstream parties in other European countries saw what happened in Greece and are aware of the rising force of Euroskepticism in their own countries. The ability of these parties to comply with these burdens is dependent on the voters, and their political base is dissolving. Rational politicians are not dismissing Syriza as an outrider.

The issue then is not the euro. Instead, the first real issue is the effect of structured or unstructured defaults on the European banking system and how the European Central Bank, committed to not making Germany liable for the debts of other countries, will handle that. The second, and more important, issue is now the future of the free-trade zone. Having open borders seemed like a good idea during prosperous times, but the fear of Islamist terrorism and the fear of Italians competing with Bulgarians for scarce jobs make those open borders less and less likely to endure. And if nations can erect walls for people, then why not erect walls for goods to protect their own industries and jobs? In the long run, protectionism hurts the economy, but Europe is dealing with many people who don’t have a long run, have fallen from the professional classes and now worry about how they will feed their families.

For Germany, which depends on free access to Europe’s markets to help prop up its export-dependent economy, the loss of the euro would be the loss of a tool for managing trade within and outside the eurozone. But the rise of protectionism in Europe would be a calamity. The German economy would stagger without those exports.

From my point of view, the argument about austerity is over. The European Central Bank ended the austerity regime half-heartedly last week, and the Syriza victory sent an earthquake through Europe’s political system, although the Eurocratic elite will dismiss it as an outlier. If Europe’s defaults — structured or unstructured — surge as a result, the question of the euro becomes an interesting but non-critical issue. What will become the issue, and what is already becoming the issue, is free trade. That is the core of the European concept, and that is the next issue on the agenda as the German narrative loses credibility and the Greek narrative replaces it as the conventional wisdom.

It is not hard to imagine the disaster that would ensue if the United States were to export 50 percent of its GDP, and half of it went to Canada and Mexico. A free-trade zone in which the giant pivot is not a net importer can’t work. And that is exactly the situation in Europe. Its pivot is Germany, but rather than serving as the engine of growth by being an importer, it became the world’s fourth-largest national economy by exporting half its GDP. That can’t possibly be sustainable.

Possible Seismic Changes Ahead

There are then three drivers in Europe now. One is the desire to control borders — nominally to control Islamist terrorists but truthfully to limit the movement of all labor, Muslims included. Second, there is the empowerment of the nation-states in Europe by the European Central Bank, which is making its quantitative easing program run through national banks, which may only buy their own nation’s debt. Third, there is the political base, which is dissolving under Europe’s feet.

The question about Europe now is not whether it can retain its current form, but how radically that form will change. And the most daunting question is whether Europe, unable to maintain its union, will see a return of nationalism and its possible consequences. As I put it in Flashpoints:

The most important question in the world is whether conflict and war have actually been banished or whether this is merely an interlude, a seductive illusion. Europe is the single most prosperous region in the world. Its collective GDP is greater than that of the United States. It touches Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Another series of wars would change not only Europe, but the entire world. 

To even speak of war in Europe would have been preposterous a few years ago, and to many, it is preposterous today. But Ukraine is very much a part of Europe, as was Yugoslavia. Europeans’ confidence that all this is behind them, the sense of European exceptionalism, may well be correct. But as Europe’s institutions disintegrate, it is not too early to ask what comes next. History rarely provides the answer you expect — and certainly not the answer you hope for.

 


Europe Day For EU Decline

May 11, 2013

 

EU elite celebrated again Europe Day when they had succeed to maintain the fasade their to the score rotten creation with taxpayer money squeezed from the common people. The Day went again so that I noticed it only next day from newsreel. It might be not so exceptional as the institutions – the commission, the parliament and the council – and its 27 member states use the day for celebrating mainly themselves. For the rest of Europe as well for people outside elite there was not any reason to celebrate.

The EU is a bold and unique project. It resembles less that of the United States of America and more that of the Soviet Union. Until the last decade the EU has been more or less a community of democratic nations. While the USSR was a communist dictatorship the EU has been following its steps last years due a full-on economic crisis. Vladimir Bukovsky a former soviet dissident, once made a comparison: ‘We were told, that the purpose of the Soviet Union is to create a a new historic entity, the soviet people, and that we must forget our nationalities, our ethnic traditions and customs. The same seems to be true to the European Union. They don’t want you to be British or French, they want you to be a new historic entity: European.’ There is amazing similarity in decision making between EU and ex-Soviet Union. USSR had also some “democratic” institutions like parliament and government, but the real power was in party machine and its “politburo”. Anyway as USSR already went so when will we celebrate EU remembrance Day.

The supranational organisation planned by Nazis?

‘In 50 years’ time nobody will think of nation states.’ (Joseph Goebbels)

EU gratuitously got Nobel award as a peace project: to underscore the very reason that it was created on 9 May 1950, which was to limit any future wars or conflicts on the continent (more in my article Devaluation of Nobel Peace Prize Continues But EU Could Show Way For Better Crisis Management ). An alternative history shows that EU is continuation of war with economic means. This view came to my mind while reading about now published secret report about how Nazis were planning the Fourth Reich.

The document, also known as the Red House Report, is a detailed account of a secret meeting at the Maison Rouge Hotel in Strasbourg on August 10, 1944. There, Nazi officials ordered an elite group of German industrialists to plan for Germany’s post-war recovery, prepare for the Nazis’ return to power and work for a ‘strong German empire’. In other words: the Fourth Reich.detailed how the industrialists were to work with the Nazi Party to rebuild Germany’s economy by sending money through Switzerland.

They would set up a network of secret front companies abroad. They would wait until conditions were right. And then they would take over Germany again. The industrialists included representatives of Volkswagen, Krupp and Messerschmitt. Officials from the Navy and Ministry of Armaments were also at the meeting and, with incredible foresight, they decided together that the Fourth German Reich, unlike its predecessor, would be an economic rather than a military empire – but not just German. The Third Reich was defeated militarily, but powerful Nazi-era bankers, industrialists and civil servants, reborn as democrats, soon prospered in the new West Germany. There they worked for a new cause: European economic and political integration.

Ludwig Erhard (economist) pondered how German industry could expand its reach across the shattered European continent. The answer was through supranationalism – the voluntary surrender of national sovereignty to an international body. German industrialists were also members of the European League for Economic Co-operation, an elite intellectual pressure group set up in 1946. The league was dedicated to the establishment of a common market, the precursor of the European Union. Ludwig Erhard flourished in post-war Germany. Adenauer made Erhard Germany’s first post-war economics minister. In 1963 Erhard succeeded Adenauer as Chancellor for three years.

Germany and France were the drivers behind the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), the precursor to the European Union. The ECSC was the first supranational organisation, established in April 1951 by six European states. It created a common market for coal and steel which it regulated. This set a vital precedent for the steady erosion of national sovereignty, a process that continues today. However one should remember that the German economic miracle – so vital to the idea of a new Europe – was built on mass murder and gold looted from the treasuries of Nazi-occupied countries and that a European federal state is inexorably tangled up with the plans of the SS and German industrialists for a Fourth Reich – an economic rather than military empire.

Note: I have summarized this secret report item from: The secret report that shows how the Nazis planned a Fourth Reich – in the EU by Adam Lebor


EU today

Forgetting EU’s organogram as illusion and speaking today’s reality one can easily find different decision making practices in EU depending about importance of issue. Most important core group is cooperation between France and Germany sometimes earlier (pre-€) adding UK to group. Commission of course has great de facto power not only on implementation level but also designing proposals handled in EUs inner cores; the same can be said about bureaucrats in national ministries who are designing policies decided EU meetings at summit/ministry levels.

So where is this leaving European Parliament? It may handle some energy bulb level issues but honestly the whole institution seems to be unnecessary creation only to keep some democratic illusion on show. As EU citizens are not so stupid to keep his institution more than a puppet theatre they show their attitude by low turnout percentage. Before last EU Parliament elections I proposed and argumented (in my article Let’s elect Donkey Parliament) why replacing MEPs with monkeys might not be so bad idea. Today EP is practical place to locate some second class politicians for retirement or out to not make any mess in national policy. They also can show good places to get fresh mussels while voters are visiting in EP as their quests. Designing EU policy happens anyway somewhere else.

EU Out

Today there is increasing EU Out movement lead by Britain. Besides populist UKIP party many leading Tories are supporting cutting ties with Brussels. Former Tory chancellor Nigel Lawson supports a referendum for Britain to leave the EU while Michael Portillo, former Tory cabinet minister, describes the Euro as a “disaster” and says the UK does not share the EU’s vision. The Tories might have their own motivation to pull out from EU (to save speculators and money laundry in London City) as well UKIP and other populist movements in EU (to keep poor immigrants out, rich ones can bye entrance anyway as usual) and leftist grassroot movements (to stop austerity measures). Whatever reasons are the aim is against EU’s federalist development.

Quite common view is that EU is an opaque bureaucracy cut off from the citizens it was (publicly) intended to serve. The unofficial core and value of EU in my opinion is that EU is a system to protect, favor and facilitate the interests of big economic powers. A steady decline in voter turnout over the past three decades for European elections has lent credence to the idea that citizens feel increasingly estranged from the European project. The crisis appears to be making this worse by prompting politicians to rush through policies that concentrate more power in Brussels with limited public understanding or support.

From my point of view subsidiary principle should be widen so that more legislation should be implemented at national level and those few remaining issues could be decided between governments and implemented by slimmed European Commission and its agencies. With this approach the whole EP could be closed as useless extra body. This outcome – which I have called as EU lite version – is about the opposite to ongoing federalist tendency and indeed I support rebuilding EU with confederalist approach. This subject I dealt recently with my article My 1st May Manifesto .

Epilogue

The two dominating trends among EU leaders are to cut losses of players in virtual economy at the expense of taxpayers and to guide EU towards strict federation at the expense of democracy. (Ari Rusila)

After 63 years of existence of EU what do we have to celebrate? Financial speculators, banksters and EU elite can congratulate themselves for creating such a massive well connected system that it is hard to break. The citizens have enjoyed from few benefits such as student exchange programme, Schengen area and common agricultural policy which subsidized farmers to produce goods that nobody wanted, dumped excess supply on world markets creating falling incomes for world farmers. The decline of EU as actor in international politics continues with its disastrous European External Action Service (=foreign policy, EEAS) so that the union can concentrate to its core function as distributor of agricultural funds and as aggregate of high-flown statements. The present challenge is, how to distance unsatisfied citizens and state parliaments away from disturbing egocentric and sel-governing elite. I hope that grassroots finally will get fed up with this experiment and starts to demand some power back.


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