Un mercato euroatlantico. La fine del modello sociale europeo.

In Da altri media on 18/07/2013 at 22:06

di Simone Rossi
Negli ultimi mesi sono state avviate le trattative per l’adozione di un Accordo Transatlantico sul Commercio e gli Investimenti tra i paesi dell’Unione Europea e gli Stati Uniti. Si tratta di un accordo tra le due sponde dell’oceano per la creazione di uno spazio di libero scambio. Presentato come un toccasana delle economie europee e statunitense che secondo i promotori godranno di un incremento del Prodotto Interno Lordo del 0.5%, l’accordo comporterà l’uniformazione delle legislazioni delle nazioni aderenti con l’abbattimento di vincoli e normative in nome dell’apertura dei mercati alle merci ed agli investimenti. Si tratta di un’ulteriore indebolimento della sovranità degli stati firmatari che si somma a quella già introdotta con il rafforzamento dell’Unione Europea e con l’introduzione di una moneta unica affidata ad una banca centrale fuori dal controllo dei parlamenti e dei governi nazionali. Come visto in passato con esperienze simili, l’accordo fungerà da grimaldello per rafforzare gli interessi degli USA e determinerà un’armonizzazione al ribasso delle tutele dei cittadini e dei consumatori.
Il tema non ha goduto dello spazio nei mezzi disinformazione che meriterebbe per la sua portata, passando spesso in secondo piano rispetto alle baruffe tra partiti politici o alla eccezionale scoperta che in estate fa caldo. Ne tratta il quotidiano britannico Morning Star nell’edizione di giovedì 18 luglio, in un articolo di Steve McGiffen, che riportiamo integralmente in fondo. Secondo quanto scritto da McGiffen, considerato che le tariffe doganali ancora esistenti tra le due sponde dell’Atlantico sono minime, l’obiettivo dell’accordo sembra maggiormente quello di scardinare quelle norme europee che impediscono l’uso di sostanze nocive alla salute, come gli ormoni per la crescita dei bovini o lo sciroppo di mais, o che pongono un freno agli organismi geneticamente modificati in nome del principio di precauzione. Non si tratta di scenari futuribili ed allarmisti, piuttosto di una prospettiva inevitabile considerato quanto successo in passato con l’introduzione del mercato unico europeo o di accordi simili tra gli USA ed altri paesi.
Tenuto conto che in nome dell’accordo potranno essere limate o abolite le norme che limitano o vincolano il libero commercio, non è inimmaginabile che a farne le spese saranno anche i diritti dei lavoratori e lo stato sociale europeo, già messi sotto attacco in questi anni e che il capitale transazionale vede come fumo negli occhi, un residuo socialista per parafrasare JP Morgan. Nonostante la portata e la pericolosità di questo accordo, i partiti di sinistra e le organizzazioni sindacali non hanno intrapreso iniziative ferme e di massa per impedire che l’accordo entri in vigore nelle forme descritte sopra o del tutto. Un autogol che pagheranno soprattutto i cittadini e nello specifico i lavoratori.

Nightmare scenario
Wednesday 17 July 2013
by Steve McGiffen

A couple of months ago I wrote about the proposed EU-US trade agreement and the extent of the threat it poses to our rights as citizens, workers and consumers.

Negotiations over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Agreement have now begun, and the two sides are reported to be optimistic about making progress.

The European Commission says that a successful agreement would not only be the “biggest bilateral trade deal ever negotiated” but that it “could result in millions of euros of savings to companies and create hundreds of thousands of jobs.”

Better still, “it is expected that every year an average European household would gain an extra €545 (£471)” and that the EU “economy would be boosted by around 0.5 per cent of GDP, once the deal was fully implemented.”

There is something very familiar about this rhetoric.

The figure for the euro was 0.4 per cent and we were told by the European Council that it would “strengthen Europe’s capacity to foster employment, growth and stability.”

A decade earlier, similar claims were made for the single European market.

Of course, these predictions are absolutely untestable, as it’s impossible to say what level of “employment, growth and stability” we would have had without the single market or the euro, but there’s certainly very little of any of these around now.

In fact, within the European Community, there were already no tariffs whatsoever on goods between member states before the single market process was set in motion in the mid-1980s.

In our own time, neither the US nor the EU imposes anything but the most minimal tariffs on the other’s goods.

Thus, as with the single market process, the focus is elsewhere, on what are referred to as “regulatory issues” and “non-tariff trade barriers.”

What this means in practice is that any form of regulation can be redefined as a barrier to trade.

The EU court, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has produced a number of such rulings as single market rules have intruded further into our everyday lives.

Countries such as the Nordic states and the Netherlands, where since the end of WWII “going rates” have been established for most trades in most sectors, have been told by the ECJ that they may not force foreign firms to pay these rates.

Germany used to have what was called the “pure beer law,” which went back hundreds of years and stated that if there was anything in a drink other than malt, hops, water and yeast you couldn’t sell it as beer.

Very few foreign beers passed this test, so the ECJ ruled that the law had to go.

The European Commission is involved in a sustained effort to force reluctant member states to approve genetically modified organisms (GMOs) as crops on their farms and only popular resistance is stopping them, as they have the law on their side.

The proposed transatlantic trade agreement would extend such threats, putting us at the mercy of a US regulatory system which for the most part varies from inadequate to non-existent.

Negotiations are being conducted behind closed doors, so details are hard to come by.

The emphasis, however, is clearly and quite openly on “harmonisation” of laws and experience has taught us that this means standards falling to the lowest common denominator.

So far trade unions, environmentalist and consumer groups have played no role in the talks.

Probably some show will be made of doing so, but you can be sure this will be mere window-dressing.

At the centre of the agreement stands the so-called “Investor-State Dispute Resolution” procedure.

Under this, foreign investors who feel that their interests have been damaged by a regulatory measure would be able to sue for redress.

Tighter pollution laws, new consumer protection measures, and more exacting health and safety demands affecting the workplace can all cost firms money.

They could demand compensation from the government responsible, even though they are not being required to do anything domestic companies aren’t are obliged to.

The only way to buy food in the US that’s free of GMOs is to go to a “farmers’ market” – an enjoyable option, but only for those who can afford it.

Many foods familiar in Britain and other parts of Europe have a strangely sweet taste in the US, which is explained by the addition of corn syrup.

The reason for this is its massive overproduction by US farms.

So it’s added to everything and anything despite the dangers it poses to health in a population suffering an epidemic of obesity.

Bovine Growth Hormone has been demonstrated to present a danger both to human health and to the welfare of the animals routinely injected with it to make them grow faster.

In the EU, it’s illegal, a ban which is unlikely to survive the proposed agreement.

Non-therapeutic use of antibiotics on farm animals which aren’t sick is routine in the US and banned in Europe.

This is likely also to come under pressure.

Across the board, standards of food safety and levels of enforcement of hygiene and animal welfare laws are much lower in the US than they are in comparably prosperous regions of Europe.

These are just the examples I understand best, having in the past worked as an adviser to left Euro-MPs on these areas of policy.

The problems certainly don’t stop there, however.

Among the issues causing widespread concern are possible pressure for further financial deregulation, access to health care and affordable medicines and the rights of internet users.

Measures to address climate change could be in the front line as US firms, backed by legislators who claim not to believe it’s happening, challenge tighter rules on greenhouse gas emissions.

The principle that all that matters is freedom to maximise profit is the pernicious core of the neoliberal philosophy that drives both the EU and the US governing elites.

If imposed on us, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Agreement will be a powerful new weapon in their armoury.

It must be stopped.



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