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Global Europe-Workshop auf Europäischer Sommeruni von attac

08.08.2008: Zusammen mit War on Want (England), mehreren europäischen attac-Gruppen sowie dem Seattle to Brussels-Netzwerk ist WEED an der Europäischen Sommeruniversität von attac vom 1.-6.8.2008 in Saarbrücken beteiligt und führt u.a. einen mehrtägigen Workshop zum Thema 'Global Europe' durch. Berichte aus dem Workshop von Manuel Melzer und Michael Reckordt:


Manuel Melzer - Michael Reckordt - Pauline Bader

Das Thema des von WEED koordinierten Workshops lautet:
"Globales Europa: Die EU-Handelspolitik jenseits der WTO - Konsequenzen außerhalb und innerhalb der EU"
(english documentation of the workshop below - also additional material)

Im Jahr 2006 stellte die EU-Kommission ihre neue handelspolitische Strategie unter dem Titel "Global Europe" vor. Kern dieser Strategie ist der zunehmende Druck, weltweit die Märkte für europäische Unternehmen noch weiter zu öffnen. Ergänzend zu den Verhandlungen im Rahmen der WTO verfolgt die EU nun eine neue China-Strategie und arbeitet an neuen bilateralen Freihandels- und Investitionsabkommen (FTAs) mit aufstrebenden und Entwicklungs-Ökonomien wie Indien, ASEAN, Südkorea, Mittelamerika und der Andenregion. Im Workshop soll es insbesondere gehen:
1.) um eine Analyse der "Global Europe”- Strategie und ihrer internationalen und EU-weiten Auswirkungen auf Arbeiter, Bauern sowie auf Umwelt und Demokratie,
2.) um unsere Alternativen zur FTA-Strategie
3.) sowie um politische Strategien und Kampagnen gegen diesen von multinationalen Unternehmen initiierten Angriff.

Organisatoren: WEED (Germany), attac Austria (Austria), attac Germany, attac France, War on Want (UK), WIDE (Women in Development Europe), Seattle to Brussels-Network

ReferentInnen: Dot Keet, Alexandra Strickner, Carlos Aguilar, John Hilary/Dave Tucker (UK), Frank Schmidt-Hullmann, Franziska Müller (D), Peter Fuchs (D)

Weitere Materialien aus dem Workshop im Anhang

Arbeitssprachen: französisch, englisch, spanisch

Zusammenfassung des Workshops (auf Englisch):
Summary of the First day:

Alexandra Strickner (attac Austria), Dave Tucker (War on Want, WoW), Dot Keet (Alternative Information and Development Centre, AIDC), Carlos Aguilar (Hemispheric Social Aliance, HSA), Franziska Müller (attac Germany), Peter Fuchs (WEED).


Workshop Tag 1

Introduction round There were more than 30 persons participating in our first workshop.

• Day 1 - Introduction - What is GE all about, actors
• Day 2 - Voices from the South (Dot und Carlos), consequences in Developing Countries + Resistance
• Day 3 - Trade Union (e.g. Frank Schmidt-Hullmann - Construction Workers Union + Italian workers union) + Social Clause (Frankziska Müller) + Trade and Employment
• Day 4 - Discussion: Actions, Networking, Activities

Global Europe (GE)
GE is the new EU external trade strategy since 2006. The goal is to open up markets outside of the EU, to strengthen global competitiveness of EU companies and to make "a Contribution to Growth and Jobs in the EU” (European Commission 2006). There are two strands to reach these goals: through multilateral trade negotiations within the WTO and through bilateral trade negotiations with regions (e.g. Central America, ASEAN; the ACP states) and single countries (e.g. South Korea, India, China). As the Doha Round of the WTO suffered another setback in July 2008 the EU is going to put even more pressure into its bilateral negotiations.

Role Play
In order to give the participants a realistic insight of the different interests of the involved actors, we did a role play. Some members of the workshop stepped into the position of important actors of the whole process: We had EU-Commissioner Peter Mandelson, represents of the German Government, of BusinessEurope, of ETUC (European Trade Union Confederation), the South Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, the Via Campesina (an international peasant network). After a vivid debate between our great performers we had a discussion in between the whole workshop to sort out the following questions:
1.) What are the interests of the different groups?
2.) What problems/ contradictions / opposite views can be perceived?
3.) What alliances between the different actors exist?
4.) Which power relationsship can be found?

- Pro EU-Business
- Free import of raw materials and ressources (especially an interest of Germany)
- Protection and creation of jobs in Europe (an interest of trade unions and business)
- Growths and wealth through exports . Therefore, open markets are important (this is also an opinion of European Trade Unions)
- Also US-interests are similar with the ones of the EU, especially common Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). The aim is to etablish rules before the Asian nations (China, India) can do so on their own
- Global Europe is not only an external strategy, but also an internal. It allows meassures similar to the Bolkestein-Directive ("Bolkestein-Richtlinie”). It modifies the internal social structre of the EU
- Public and government procurement
- The aspired investment conditions, mentioned in GE strategy, are much more extensive than in the ones proposed in the multilateral framework
- Service is a central topic - EU is moving from an industrial economy to a knowledge economy (banking, water, education, health)
- Making good environment for companies in emerging markets (no risk for EU TNCs)

- Some governments are hiding behind the EU
- Food Sovereignty
- GE for African countries isn’t new
- Since the beginning of capitalism, Europe has exploited the colonies and other states
- Intellectual Property Rights blockade the development of poorer contries (e.g. access to medicine, software, education, health)
- Consequences of the GE: Sweat and Blood of the people in the South - "How do you guarantee the rights of the people in the EU for all people over the world?” (Dot Keet)
- "EU policy means neo-colonism” (Carlos Aguilar). It is not possible to separate the negotiations in trade in goods and the trade in services and investments
- Militarization of Europe + migration policy ("Fortress Europe”) are also important and directly linked to the GE strategy

- Between workers unions from EU and Korea were not that strong
- Southern Trade Unions are against free trade agreements (FTAs), also ITC (Intern. Trade Union) is against FTAs
- European Trade Unions want "social clauses” In order to make FTAs work for them
- Difficult dynamic at global movement (in trade unions)
- BusinessEurope and EU-Commission of Trade is strong

- Drivers Seat: Peter Mandelson and DG Trade
- 133 Committee (functionaries of the EU-27 prepare positions - members of parliaments have no access, but the TNCs - "The 133 Committee is a factory for decissions on European Strategies” [Henning, attac Munich])
- Two blocks: one coalition of powerful governments (Germany, UK, Scandinavia) pro GE, on the other side worried governments like Italy and France, e.g. because of the interests of the aggrobusiness in France)
- EU-Commission negotiates for EU and proposes positions; the EU-Council of trade ministers formally endorse the strategy
- EU-Parliament has only the right to info (Parliaments - national and European - are not the powers to decide)
- European Services Forum (ESF), BusinessEurope and other lobbyists were asked by the EU-Commission of Trade before publishing the GE strategy

Summary: key elements of the GE:
- Success in the negotiations of the WTO Doha Round
- A new China strategy
- New FTAs, especially new trade and investment agreements with Korea, India, ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Central America, CAN (Andean Nations)
- IPR-Strategy (closely to US-Business - stronger than TRIPS agreement in WTO)
- Market Access Strategy
- Ongoing EPAs (especially with African, Caribbean and Pacifik Countries)
- Internal Restructuring the EU

Second day

Alexandra Strickner (attac Austria), Dave Tucker (War on Want, WoW), Dot Keet (Alternative Information and Development Centre, AIDC), Carlos Aguilar (Hemispheric Social Alliance, HSA), Franziska Müller (attac Germany), Peter Fuchs (WEED).

Carlos Aguilar - New partnership agreements of Central America and the EU

The interest of the European Union consists mainly of three components: trade, investments and services. Therefore, the EU agenda has three key elements:
1.) Opening markets (competitiveness for EU companies, especially in the sectors of services and investment);
2.) Abolition of trade-barriers (as the EU imports raw materials and exports goods);
3.) Protectionism of the EU.

The new issue of the Global Europe Strategy is that the EU is negotiating with "regions”, not only with single countries. Therefore the starting point for negotiations with Central America - next to the advancements in the WTO - is (economic) regional integration. With this policy the EU has initiated an artificial region-building-process in Central America. The main goal is to create a free trade area. The exploitation areas have regional characters with one aim: big markets for EU companies. "There is a reconfiguration of regions, where the EU acts” (Carlos). The main interests of the EU-TNCs are banking services (competitiveness with US and Asia banks), telecommunications and electricity. To give these interests a human face, the EU has given cooperation a central position within its negotiations with Central America. Looked up closely however, one can see that this money is used for projects which again are helping the big TNCs.
Question: What are the effects for the farmers and agriculture in the EU to have more open markets?
Carlos: The EU has no competitive agriculture. It is only high protected and subsidized. The agrar market is the opposite of the liberal economy of the EU. Agriculture is for the economy of the EU less important than in Central America.
Question: Is there a new process in Mercosur? The stop of the WTO talks was because of Brazil’s position. Brazil & Argentina wanted substitution-issues discussed in the WTO, but Brazil is also active promoter of agro fuels and the EU is an important market. What will change through this fact?
Carlos: The aim of the government is to make Brazil a global player. They know that they have high potential in some areas, like in agro fuels. So they need alliances to be competitive in the global market.
Dot Keet: Europe has a geo-strategically approach. For them it is easier to deal with bigger regions. If it doesn’t fit for EU, they break the existing regions (as happened in Africa and Latin America). And if possible, they pick out one country (big countries like Brazil) and negotiate with them to break other countries - it is divide and rule. In Africa e.g. Nigeria has also refused to sign EPAs. And the EU doesn’t like resisting countries.

Franziska Müller:

Franziska Müller studied the interconnections and impacts of the GE Strategy for the Hans-Böckler-Stiftung. Her focus was on the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) and Free Trade Areas (FTAs) between the EU and the ACP (Africa, Caribbean and Pacific) nations. There exist older treaties (Lome-Convention). In these treaties the EU guaranteed special access to EU-markets for these states and the ACP states could protect their own markets. Because of the WTO agreements, the EU had to renew that agreement of Lome and the old tariffs had to be cut. The start of the negotiations was 2002. But it had a standstill for a long time especially because of ACP protests against liberalization. In 2006 the EU released the Global Europe Strategy and the negotiations changed. The EU came up with new trade issues like investment, services, intellectual property rights. First the EU did drafts on investments and one on services. These drafts are now brought into the EPAs. So the connection between EU and ACP-countries changed from partnership for developed to a test run of the new strategy. Especially investments are important. For a long time Africa was not of interest for investors, but because of its raw materials the continent is getting interesting.

Dot Keet:

Our problem in Africa is not free trade, but production. We can’t take advantage of opening markets in the EU, because of no production in Africa. We can’t benefit of the market access. Also the EU is saying that reciprocity in EU-ACP negotiations is necessary. But that’s not true. Reciprocity is not necessary or possible. It’s contradicting to WTO standards, it’s not required by WTO-rules. Also no Investment liberalization and no government contracts are wanted and rejected in the WTO. The EU says it is following the WTO processes, but in fact it is ignoring the WTO process which urges the EU to open up agricultural markets. In the WTO the ACP states are working united, but now the EU is outflanking them. They are negotiating with smaller groups or single countries. And they set countries under pressure with their aid for trade idea. The EU ties up their aid with the requirement to implement the EPAs. The aid is helping to implement what the EU wants - but it is no help for production. Another problem is the most-favoured-nation (MFN) clause. If African countries sign a contract with China, they have to provide the European Union with the same conditions. No South-South agreements development would be possible anymore. This MFN prevents trade options as it is not possible to exclude the EU. EPAs are impossible without regional integration, because we have to control the flow of European goods. If we do not control the flow, products will come through neighbor-countries. The whole Global Europe campaign by the EU-Commission is pushed ahead with bribery and pressure. The signing countries are only signing because of pressure. Only 13 African countries have signed bilateral agreements (of 47 countries). Ghana und Cote d’Ivoire have signed and now they are under pressure of the West-African countries. The Caribbean Countries also signed. They have now careful analysis - and five deadlines for implementation have passed by. The situation is much more fluent and changing. Also the civil society is strongly against EPAs (e.g. peasants, women, intellectuals). But some states are weak. The pressure of the EU is a reason to sign these contracts - e.g. aid money is very important, some government-budgets come to 90% from EU-aid.
We don’t want you to see Africa as a poverty problem. A great majority is hard working and productive. Don’t see Africa simply as a continent of poverty. Poverty is not inherent, but it is created because of politics. The IMF and the Worldbank imposed policies in Africa - infant mortal, child mortal improved, illiteracy rates improved and other indicators collapsed after that. Declining of all human development indicators are a product of Structural Adjustment Programmes.
The EU is supporting fair trade, but only for products like chocolate and coffee. But our economies are not about coco and coffee. We want to produce for our own needs. But European imports surge into our markets and destroy the agricultural productions in the rural areas. The EU should be active against export dumping.
There are other interests as well. Have for example a look on foreign direct investments (FDI) of the EU: of all FDIs in the world only 2.7 per cent go to Africa - and 60 percent of that 2.7 per cent go to only five countries: Nigeria, Angola, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon - all countries with high raw material production. The UNCTAD reported that for every dollar coming into Africa, 1,10 Dollars go out.
Question: Are there differences between interim EPAs and EPAs?
Dot: Interim EPAs are only in trade in goods. They were a tactical move from the African view and an urgent action. From the EU view it was tactical to first have trade agreements to be able to include investments and services at a later moment.
Alexandra: The problem is that there are no possibilities to protect their own agriculture for African countries. Only getting rid of the subsidies in the EU and the USA isn’t the clue. The governments in Africa need the measures to ensure food sovereignty. This means a change for the common agricultural policies.

Third day:

Dave Tucker (Moderator - War on Want), Frank Schmidt-Hullmann (German Construction Workers - IG Bau), Bruno Ciccaglione (SDL intercategoriale), Frankziska Müller (attac Germany), John Hillary (War on Want)

Trade Unionists and Global Europe: Frank Schmidt-Hullmann (FSH - German Construction Workers)

The FTAs that are mentioned in the GE strategy don’t create per se wealth for all. It’s also dominated by TNC, also like the agenda of the Doha-Development Round. In contrast to the former EU-Commissioner on Trade, Pascal Lamy, Peter Mandelson is more open, his agenda is much clearer. In the GE strategy it is pointed out that the EU will only do Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) with "useful” countries and regions.
The Unions fear that GE is about outsourcing and outsourcing possibilities for EU-companies. The aim is to make production cheaper through importing cheaper parts. But open markets will not create any jobs here. A lot of jobs will go in the countries with cheaper workforce.
The official statement of the European trade unions is focusing on "social clauses” in WTO and EPAs. But in the opinion of Frank Schmidt-Hullmann, "core labor standards” will not solve the situation of workers all over the world. The social clauses are only opening up possibilities for unions in some countries to organize workers. Core labor standards are less about workers conditions but about "building unions”. So it is questionable if social clauses can solve the problems.
The GE strategy also reduces the ability to make laws and the will of the people.
Also in the critic is the Mode 4 (movement of natural persons under the WTO-regime). Workers are removable. Especially migrants have not the same rights as the people in the target country. It can be a possibility for companies to get rid of trade unions. The workers will have only short time jobs, which forces precarious workforces. But the GE strategy is also a step up in the speed to build up an internal market in which the problems of different wage levels are not recognized. Therefore workers will not benefit here in Europe nor in the global South. Instead of this we will face a worldwide run to the bottom, even if the bottom means a minimum wage.

Bruno Ciccaglione (BC - SDL intercategoriale)

Bruno Ciccaglione agrees to the explanations of Frank Schmidt-Hullmann. The GE strategy is something new even if it is not very innovative in what kind of politics are promoted. It is new in two points:

1.) International dimension:
The international dimension has a different degree of integration of the global production. Some countries, especially emerging countries like India and China, are not doing the lower part of production anymore. More work of the supply chains is done in these countries. There is a different situation of competition for EU companies. They put more pressure on the decisions of the EU.

2.) European institutions:
The EU wants to push directly their initiatives, e.g. with the Bolkestein-Directive. The Bolkestein-Directive was a moment of big mobilization, not only for traditional actors like unions, but also for social movements. Now the EU tries to work with less transparent instruments.
In fact, neither multilateral nor bilateral agreements have ever created an increase of labor standards or workers rights. Especially because of GE the basic rights (labor rights, right to build up unions, …) are not save anymore. But there is only substantial silence by the European Trade Unions. Europe trade unions are not against the liberalization in general. On the other side, the Southern Trade Unions (from Africa, Asia and Latin America) have strong anti-free-trade positions and brought the topic into the agenda of civil society.

Question (Peter Fuchs, WEED): The problem is that national unions don’t have a progressive opinion or agenda. How can we change that? What are potential entry points and problems? Where are the blockades in the European Trade Unions? Should we link it with the internal development (Bolkestein-Directive) or should we link to the migration-directive? What are key actors and how to bring them into the discussion?
FSH: The problem is the newest decision of the European Court of Justice about collective labor / wage agreements (see in German language) in public procurement. It supports Mandelsons public procurement policy with the aim that the lowest price wins the whole public procurement offer.
That concept forgets and denies subsidies and postulates the reduction of subsidies. But subsidies can help local employment or people can get goods with subsidized prices (e.g. energy prices).
Also, it is important to talk about Mode 4. The social movements should not be afraid that right wing parties also take that theme about migration. We should regulate migration AND we want that migrants have the full rights and get an equal treatment.
BC: The trade unions are not singular actors. There are also NGOs and social movements. But each of these traditional actors in his segment has not a chance to win. They have to work together on common issues.
Q. (attac Munich): I have the impression that the Unions are failing there international duties when they neglect those (critics on EPAs in the way of a non-development measures) issues.
FSH: The unions had two years of discussion on GATS and it is the same problem on EPA. Many unions are not aware that we talk about EPAs. They think all talks about international trade are on WTO level.
BC: At the World Social Forum 2007 in Nairobi the African social movements had a very radical position about EPAs. One dangerous point is, that Europeans think they have the clue, but they have not. They should hear the demands of the South, because they have more experience in the South.
Comment from Dot Keet: There was a big struggle to achieve credibility of social movements to be an alliance for the Unions. But we succeeded in Africa. There has to be equality of powers between unions and social movements. A lot of problems come also from the European unions.
Another point is: We do not simple want rights for migrants. We want that people should not have to move to Europe. We do not want to loose people and workers.

Introduction in the social clause debate by John Hillary (Director of War on Want):

An important question is, how can we mobilize trade unions? In the UK, trade unions are not moderate, they are 100 percent pro free trade. They want a successful pro-liberalization outcome of the WTO negotiations. There is also a joint letter with the British companies about successful WTO negotiations.
So, how can we build a strategy to bring back the trade unions on the site of the workers, not on the on side of the capital?
The key can be the concept of "Decent Work” that gets support of the ILO, the ETUC (European Trade Union Confederation) and ITUC (International Trade Union Confederation). Decent Work wants the quantity of jobs, the quality of jobs and social security and protection for the people who fall out of these jobs. Also the European Commission believes in this concept. We should use this common opinion on decent work and show the complete conflict between Decent Work and GE. We should connect that to the impact of developing countries. There are a lot of examples through IMF and World Bank neoliberal policies on jobs and working conditions. One example: 80 to 90 percent persons of the global workforce are working in the informal sector. Another example is NAFTA: Mexico, USA and Canada lose a lot of jobs, because of the new competition with Asian nations, especially China.
The mobilization should be now, because a lot of the FTAs should be finished in the next two or three years. But social movements find themselves on the opponent side of trade unions. The European trade union movement was marginalized in the discussion on the WTO. First the trade union of the South brought the unions back on the map of this process. The EU unions focused too strong on social clauses. They say FTAs with social clauses are okay. That’s strategically wrong, because the way of the liberalization is wrong. It impacts into job losses, social insecurity, etc.
Franziska Müller presents after that a study on social clauses for the German Hans Böckler Stiftung. In that research she mentioned GSP+ (General System on Preferences - LDC should get a special market access without liberalization their own markets).

Key elements of the further discussion:

FHS: The WTO should be reintegrated into the UN system, where we have a regulated regime with rights. The WTO should not deal with public procurement and other issues. It should concentrate on trade in goods only.
John Hillary: Corporate Social Accountability is established, because the companies do not want Corporate Accountability. Binding codes should be supported.
In context to Frank Schmidt-Hullmann’s comment on the WTO and the UN, Peter Fuchs emphasizes that the IMF and the World Bank are UN-framework organization. That only does not solve the problem. In context to Franziska Müller’s presentation, he says, we should not use GSP+ as an alternative. That is not what we need. Our framework goes far beyond that.
Dot Keet: We do not want the EU! We do not trust them, also not in GSP+.

Summary of the fourth day:

GLOBAL EUROPE (GE) - Workshop 10:15 - 12:30 Amélie Canonne (Seattle to Brussels Network, S2B), Franzisca Müller (ATTAC Germany), Dave Tucker (War on Want, WoW)

On day 4 we had a very vivid discussion about possible alternatives to the Global Europe strategy, the main target groups for protests, information or cooperation and future actions within our workshop. The results ranged from obligatory social and labour standards to new forms of agrarian productions. In the second part of the workshop we discussed the next events coming up which cover the Global Europe Strategy:

The key dates are:
- 17. - 21. of September: European Social Forum in Malmö, Sweden.
- 21. - 22. of September: Informal Meeting of the European Agricultural Ministers about the common agricultural policy (CAP). There will be a counter summit in Annecy: "Let’s change the CAP”
- 27. of September: Annual Stop EPAs Day! or
- 7. of October: global decent work day
- 16. - 17. of October: Migration mobilisation in Paris
- December: Meeting on Global Europe from civil society in Brussels

Additional material (see downloads):
Call to action against Europe's aggressive economic agenda in Africa

Weitere Bilder


WEED-Aktion gegen Global Europe

Zugehörige Dateien:
Role play articles and texts - free downloadDownload (5343 kb)
Dot Keet - Europe in AfricaDownload (73 kb)