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Forum "Europe in a changing world”

03.08.2008: A report by Manuel Melzer (Vienna, intern with WEED)

Moderation: Peter Fuchs (WEED)

On the penal: Dot Keet (Alternative Information and Development Centre AIDC, Transnational Institute TNI, South Africa)

Jürgen Wagner (information centre on militarization, Germany)

Susan George (Honorary President ATTAC France, Chair of the board of TNI)

Susan George

Although she was born in the USA, she has become a convinced European. The EU could be a model for the rest of the world, but right now it is not on the right road. The EU was created to stop wars through economic progress. But the European project focussed only on its economic programme and didn’t move on to create social and ecological equivalents. But even without these missing parts the European countries managed to reach a high level of living standards. According to a ILO study on social and economic security many EU countries ranked first, while the USA only got number 25 ("even” Slovakia reached a better position).

Those aspects show that Europeans are the best and the worst at the same time: They reached a level of wealth where they can live in dignity and enjoy many varieties of freedoms (press, opinion, etc.). But on the other hand Europeans are the worst as well in the sense they have slaughtered millions during wars, colonization, etc.

Europeans could once more be the best. But the reduction of social achievements and the whole neoliberal strategy tries to pull us down to US level. Through projects like NATO the EU is acting like the junior partner of the USA. The economic defense council of the EU follows US’ call: they want to increase the military budget by 42 billion Euros (which is still only half of the US expenditures). But being a satellite of the USA means the loss of the EU’s genuine character. But who are Europe’s enemies, what are the threats? According to the council they are internal and external. "There are no longer threats at our frontiers, nor are there frontiers to our threats.”As a consequence we need to accept social cut downs.

Peter Mendelssohn wants to open up all the worlds markets for all goods for investment, public procurement, services, etc. without breaks, without controls. Everything should be merchandised.

It is very clear that the neoliberal system is collapsing and could only lead to social and ecological disaster. Therefore we have to turn the European project around.

Homepage Susan George

Jürgen Wagner

The character of the EU has changed with the neoliberal agenda. As the President of the EU commission Barroso pointed out, the EU is becoming some sort of empire. The new system contains of a strong hierarchy, a strong court and strong centers in Germany, France and the UK. The east expansion is a good example for this new development. The new members had to change their economic systems completely. They will constantly be on the economic periphery of the EU.

The treaty of Lisbon is a tool to centralize EUs power. Through its new system of voting shares big states would extremely expand their influence. Mark Leonhard’s project of Eurosphere on the other hand is sought to create neoliberal restructured labor markets.

The whole economic expansion is accompanied by military means. In 2001 the creation of an European rapid reaction force with 60 000 soldiers was approved. In 2003 battle groups where installed: 1500 soldiers are ready for instant operations without the EU parliament’s approval. With the so called solidarity clause within the Lisbon treaty it would be possible to deploy troops in the EU itself. The Lisbon treaty would create as well a so called start up fund offering a own military budget for the EU.

But, as Nicolas Sarcozy put it, the militarization will go on, with or without new European treaties. A good example is the creation of the new Galileo satellite system.

To prevent the Lisbon treaty, the whole European left has to defend the Irish NO.

information centre on militarization

Dot Keet

Europe is changing. True. But the view from the south shows different perspectives than the global media, which is full of northern interests. The global South doesn’t need the EU to be a ‘model’. "We are going to develop our own models, and then we are going to teach Europe.”

Emerging powers as China and India created a multipolar world. The south is not solely dependent on the will of the EU and the USA any more. There are more alternatives and new tactical options. Countries from the south play important political roles in the world. Evidence of this development is G8’s attempt to co-opt big developing countries into their group to create a G13.

Big alliances of developing countries such as the G33 play a bigger role in world politics as well. They managed to exert pressure on the North and Brazil to prevent agricultural liberalization. G33 with its biggest members China and India stood firm against US pressure. Another example is the G90 Group of least developed countries and all African states which managed to prevent the opening up of the scope of the WTO. They are beginning to play a role.

The new international economic environment bears some opportunities for the South. Developing countries have more and more options where to sell their products. There is more competition, more choices as the north needs those raw materials. But the danger that Chinese companies just replace EU companies has to be kept in mind.

Which way these relationships go also depends on the social movements: They are getting organized and are playing a bigger role. An example is the alliance of trade unions of the south against EPAs or other south-south alliances like Jubilee South which are even pushing pressure on the north. We are not only engaging with our governments, we are building our alliances across many sectors of society - peasants, women, workers. We are engaging and building alliances with you as social movements in the north, right in the belly of the monster. But we are not coming for solidarity (in the old and moral sense) any more because with the new pressures of internal restructuring in Europe as well you have the same interests as we have. If you don’t take up the fight against ‘Global Europe’ and its internal implications, you are going to suffer as well: trough undermined rights and missing social security.

The so called "Global Europe” agenda is in many respects just more of the same for the South. We have suffered it for more than 500 years: 5 centuries of colonialism, slave trade, imperialism have left large distortions in Africa (not denying, that there are corrupt regimes).
What we want from Europe: Stop what they have been doing to Africa for 500 years. When Europe is giving Africa development aid it is repaying the dept Europe has towards Africa because of what they have taken over the years.

The biggest disaster for us comes from Europe. Therefore it is our task to deal with the sources of the problem.

Zugehörige Dateien:
Dot Keet - Europe in AfricaDownload (73 kb)