European Marches against Unemployment - News and Archives
Absender : email@example.com (Coalition for a Different Europe) Betreff : THE OTHER VOICES 11 (JUNE 1998) Datum : Fr 05.06.98, 02:33 (erhalten: 05.06.98) Groesse : 58619 Bytes ----------------------------------------------------------------------
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THE OTHER VOICES
MONTHLY E-MAIL NEWSLETTER OF THE
INTERNATIONAL COALITION FOR A DIFFERENT EUROPE
ISSUE 11, JUNE 1998 _________________________________________________________________
- Latest info on the Cardiff Alternative Summit
- People's Europe '98 -- a pseudo-event
- REAL PEOPLE'S EUROPE; Neoliberal Strategies, Social Conflict and Counter-Strategies in the European Union
- Danish and Irish referenda; advocates of the NO vote explain their positions on the Amsterdam Treaty
- European Parliament Surrenders to Biotech Industry Europe legalises biopiracy in defiance of public interests
- Live or Buy; European Central Bank opens up Protest in frankfurt on June 27th
- Agenda for the coming month
| THE OTHER VOICES are distributed by: | | Towards a Different Europe | P.O. Box 54 | 1000 AB Amsterdam | Netherlands
| Tel: +31-20-4708833 | Fax: +31-20-6763931 | E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
| Compiled by Erik Wesselius
NOT THE OFFICIAL SUMMIT IN CARDIFF _________________________________________________________________
Here is the latest update from Reclaim Europe!
... Not the Official Summit ...
TUESDAY 9th June
Cynefin y Werin -- Common Ground (Tues. 9th - Fri. 12th)
Raising the subjects not on the agenda of the Euro-Summit: peace, justice, co-operation and human rights. Exhibitions, stalls, workshops, street events and Fairtrade Cafe. An event for everyone, not just the chosen few. All events take place at The Tabernacle, The Hayes. 2:00 - 2:30 Official opening - Julie Morgan MP, Cynog Dafis MP, Revd Denzil John and Anand Jasani MBE. 2:30 - 5:00 'A bundle of belongings isn't the only thing a regugee brings to their new country.' Speaker from the Welsh Refugee Council. 3:30 - 5:00 'Language, culture and solidarity': Debt video and speaker -Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign. 6:00 - 9:00 'Wales - A Safe Haven?' Speakers on refugees and racism. Lunchtime: Cor Cochion singing - The Hayes
WEDNESDAY 10th June
Cynefin y Werin -- Common Ground (see Tuesday)
9:30 - 12:30 'Eutopia' - a sustainable European economy: money, jobs and environment - Speakers from the Green Party and Friends of the Earth followed by workshops 12:30 - 1:30 Euratom protest - street event in the Hayes - CND Cymru 2:00 - 5:00 Associative Democracy - Speaker on the Welsh Assembly - Red Kite 7:30 - 9:30 Globalisation: The effects on the economy and the global poor - Speaker Barry Coates, Director World Development Movement 7:30 - 9:00 Defend the worldwide right to asylum - Speakers
THURSDAY 11th June
Cynefin y Werin -- Common Ground (see Tuesday)
9:30 - 10:30 'More bangs for your bucks?' Speaker Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) 10:30 - 12:30 Campaigning on the Eurofighter and Building a Wales East Timor Support - Workshops CAAT and Stop The Hawks 12:30 - 1:30 No to the Eurofighter. No Hawks to Indonesia. Petitioning in the Hayes 2:00 - 5:00 Communities taking control - Speakers Cymdeithas yr laith Gymraeg 7:30 - 9:00 Peace and Hope - Creating an empowering vision for the 21st century - Brahama Kumaris - Different venue , contact 01222 480557
FRIDAY 12th June
Cynefin y Werin -- Common Ground (see Tuesday)
9:30 - 10:30 Saharan Tea Ceremony - Street event 11:00 - 1:00 Europe's duty to Western Sahara - Speakers: representative of the Saharawi people and Ann Clwyd MP 12:00 - 2:00 Glowing with health? Street event on radioactive tritium - Welsh Anti-Nuclear Alliance and Friends of the Earth 2:00 - 5:00 Cuba: The European Response - Speakers: Francisco Dominguez and David Morris MEP- Cymru Cuba 5:00 - 7:30 Cutting the Chain of Debt/ Jubilee 2000 - Speaker on debt cancellation. 8:00 - 9:30 Closing Rally - Speakers Bruce Kent (CND); Angharad Tomos (Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg); Bishop Rowan Williams.
Reclaim Europe! Counter Summit (Fri. 12th to Sun. 14th)
Two days of discussions and workshops on the leading role of the EU as an agent of economic globalisation - a space for national and international campaigners to discuss strategies and actions
4 pm onwards: Registration of participants and welcome Finistere, 1st floor of University Students Union 7 pm onwards: Accounts of latest successful campaigns Reports from People's Global Action, French Unemployed Movement and many more.
SATURDAY 13th June
Reclaim Europe! Counter Summit (Fri. 12th to Sun. 14th)
'The EU and the consequences of its present agenda' YMCA, The Walk
10 am-11:30: Speakers panel Erik Wesselius (Co-organiser of Amsterdam Alternative Summit '97 and still active in 'Towards a Different Europe'), Alan Simpson MP, Jean-Pierre Page (Confederation Generale du Travail - Head of International Department) and Janet Longfield (Food Alliance - to be confirmed) 11:30-12:30: Lunch 12:30-2:30: Workshop 'Globalisation and the EU: New Trade Agreements, CAP reform, EMU, IMF, MAI...their effect on every aspect of life' Pulling together different issues and campaign strategies to achieve a common vision.
'Responding to the Kairos Moment - Challenge for the Churches' 11am-12:30 , Tredegarville Baptist Church, The Parade Public Meeting open to all who are interested in grassroots movements for change. Organised by Kairos Europa, a network of groups involved in Peace & Justice throughout Europe.
CARDIFF EURO DEMONSTRATION: NO to Big Business Europe - YES to Jobs, Public Services and Democracy! With people coming from all over Britain and Europe! * For a People's Europe - Defend the Welfare State! * For Full Employment - with Secure Jobs on Decent Wages! * For National and Regional Equality Across Europe! * For a Green Europe in a Green World! * Against Racism and Social Exclusion! 1:30 pm: Assemble in Sophia Gardens (off Cathedral Rd, City Centre) 2pm: Rally Speakers: Alan Simpson MP, Patricia McKenna MEP (Green -Ireland), Christophe Aguiton (AC! - French Unemployed Movement), Sue Hoskins (Critchley Labels Strike), Margaret Witham (British Trade Union Pensioners Association), Byron Hughes (Cardiff TUC), Sadiq Avtar (Indian Workers Association) Also invited: Unemployed, Trade Union, Plaid Cymru, Anti-Racist and Disabled activists. 3pm:March
Globalisation report and panel discussion - Green Party Speakers: Colin Hines and Caroline Lucas 2:30 pm, Tabernacle, The Hayes All welcome but please register with the Green Party in advance (0171 -272 4474)
Launch of Green Party European Election candidates (with press conference) 1:30 pm, Tabernacle, The Hayes (please register on 0171-272 4474)
Meeting of TUC's and unemployed organisations - 'Euromarches and Cologne 99'. 6:00 -7:00 pm, YMCA, The Walk
Music on the Bandstand 7:30 pm onwards, Queen Street (free )
Unemployed Centre's Music Night Live -- Mixed music, free food, big pub, real beer! 8:30 pm, Royal Oak pub in Broadway (off Newport Road) free!
SUNDAY 14th June
Reclaim Europe! Counter Summit (Fri. 12th to Sun. 14th)
'Alternatives to the present EU and campaign strategies' Various locations - see notice board in Junior Common Room
10 am -12:30: Themed workshops Employment, Women, Agriculture (& CAP), Peace and Security, CEE Enlargement, Development (Internationalism), Environment, Genetic Engineering, Fortress Europe, Globalisation/ MAI 12:30 -2 pm: Lunch 2:00 - 4:30 pm: Workshops (same as above) 4:30 -5:00 pm: Break 5:00 - 6:00 pm: Conclusion (in YMCA)
Oxfam supporters call to curb the Arms Trade Presentation of Cut Conflict cards to Glenys Kinnock MEP 12:30, outside City Hall
Presentation on Oxfam Cut Conflict Campaign 2 pm, Welsh College of Music and Drama, left of exclusion zone All welcome but please register before Fri. 12th with Oxfam on 01222-757067
People's Vigil for peace and justice on the Jubilee 2000 theme of cancelling 3rd world debt 7:30 pm: Assemble outside City Hall -- Musicians & singing 8:30 pm: Speakers including Glenys Kinnock MEP, to climax in a two minute silence -- Please bring a candle with you
Official EU Summit begins
Actions, demonstrations and surprise events! Contact Reclaim Europe! for more details of actions which include:
-Genetic engineering/ xenotransplantation Contact Uncaged on 0421 056014 or 0421 055471 closer to the events -Oxfam press stunt on theme of Code of Conduct on sale of small arms With John Hannah (to be confirmed); Contact Oxfam (01222-757067) closer to the event
'Fiesta Celtica' -- Open air event with the Hot House Flowers - Irish band 6:30 -10:30 pm, Cardiff Bay (free)
Official EU Summit Ends
*Car Free Day! *
Cycle procession from Swansea to Cardiff 7am: Assemble in Castle Square, Swansea Town Centre 8am: Leave to join Mass cycle blockade in Cardiff Contact Ken on 01792 424340 or Reclaim Europe!
Mass Cycle Blockade 3pm, meet in The Hayes -- Bring your bike, banners, music and imagination! Contact Reclaim Europe! on 04116 05037 or 01222-461227
Reclaim The Streets! 4 pm, meet Cardiff Central Train Station -- Bring yourselves, kids, friends, costumes, music, art, performances, drums, banners, humour for the first ever Welsh RTS! Contact 0378 389063 for details
!!! Practical Information !!! ___________________________________________________________________
All events mentioned on the programme are free (or with a nominal fee)
* Registration and Meeting/info point *
- On Friday 12th (from 4pm): Finistere, 1st floor of University Students Union (Park Place)
- On Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th: Junior Common Room, Trevithick Building, University Physics Department, West Grove (off Newport Rd)
* How to get there *
- General info: British Travel Centre Tel: +44-(0)181-9000 Fax: +44-(0)181-5630302
- Rail info: International tel: +44-(0)171-8342345 National tel: +44-(0)345-484950 Super Saver tickets available for travel after 9:30am Mon-Tues (35 return from London) Super Saver tickets even cheaper for groups of 10+ people (25.90 return from London)
- Coach info: (National Express) tel: +44-(0)990-808080 (22.75 return from London - 3 to 5 hrs travel)
- Cardiff Tourist Information: 01222 227281
- Road: Go to West London (Hammersmith), then M4 to Bristol - cross Severn bridge (toll)
For info about where to park big coaches, please contact: - Cardiff Euro Demo Committee for Saturday only Phone: +44 (0)1222 302324 Fax: +44 (0)1222 302325 or 390273 E-mail: email@example.com - Reclaim Europe! for other days
* Accommodation *
Most places are fully booked in Cardiff, but Reclaim Europe! still has places available: Crash Pad (1/night), Camping (3/night), Bed (15/night) Book with Reclaim Europe! as soon as possible!, fill in a registration form
* Food *
Cheap vegetarian/vegan food will be available during the weekend Counter Summit. Lists of good and cheap places to eat ( veggie and vegan) will be available all through the week.
* Contacts for Reclaim Europe! between the 9th and 16th of June: *
Tel: 01222-461227 / Mobile: 0411 605037 / Pager: 07666 783239 Fax: 01222-464748 Email: Reclaim.Europe@btinternet.com
* For more info about the Cardiff Euro Demonstration *
Cardiff Euro Demo Committee, CCTUS, 131 Crwys Rd, Cathays, Cardiff, CF2 4NH, Wales. Phone: +44 (0)1222 302324 ; Fax: +44 (0)1222 302325 or 390273 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
* For more info about Cynefin y Werin / Common Ground *
Tel 01286-882359 or email: email@example.com
- - - - - Contact Reclaim Europe!
Cardiff: Temple of Peace,Cathays Park,Cardiff CF13AP Tel: +44-(0)1222-220347 Reclaim.Europe@btinternet.com
London: 1 B Waterlow Rd, London N19 5NJ Tel: +44-(0)171-272 9333 Fax: +44-(0)171-561 0800 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com (both please)
Web site: http://www.geocities.com/Rainforest/5581/
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Reclaim Europe! is an umbrella organisation for the coordination of environmental, human and animal rights campaigns and events at the Eurosummit/June 98 in Cardiff (Wales) - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
People's Europe '98 -- a pseudo-event _________________________________________________________________
Apart from the non-official summit in Cardiff, organised by Reclaim Europe!, a pseudo alternative conference dubbed "People's Europe '98" will be held in London in the weekend of 5-7 June 1998. Read some excerpts from the flashy People's Europe website <http://www.pe98.org.uk>
> Beyond the fringe
> There have been alternative European summits of non- > governmental organisations on the fringe of nearly all the > European Council meetings of the past decade -- but People's > Europe 98 is a bit different.
> For a start, it's not on the fringe of the official summit, > which is in Cardiff on 15-16 June. Although the original > idea was to hold People's Europe 98 in Cardiff the weekend > on 12-14 June, the shortage of suitable accomodation in the > city -- along with government worries about security -- > forced People's Europe 98 reluctantly to relocate to London. > And to make sure that government ministers would go to the > conference and listen to what it had to say, the date was > changed to a week earlier.
> Which is the second difference between People's Europe 98 > and previous alternative European NGO summits: this one has > the full backing of the government that is hosting the > official event, the European Commission and the European > Parliament.
> Not that it is controlled by them -- far from it. The agenda > and choice of speakers has been down to the NGOs represented > on the People's Europe 98 advisory committee. But the > Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Commission and the > Parliament have helped fund the event and have been generous > in providing logistical support.
> Most important of all, unlike with any previous alternative > summit, they have all promised to send representatives to > the conference to listen. People's Europe 98 is an > unprecedented opportunity for unofficial Europe to make its > voice heard.
Although "People's Europe '98" places itself in the tradition of Alternative Summits, it is obvious that this summit is not "a bit different", but VERY DIFFERENT from the real alternative Summits of the past years. Apart from the fact that there is an event which is really continuing that tradition -- "Not the Official Summit" in Cardiff -- a short glance at the programme tells you the difference: an alternative summit would never conclude with a presentation of the European Commission's Citizens First project and question time with a Minister of Foreign Affairs.
The reason which the People's Europe organisers give for the move in time and place of their event from Cardiff to London reveals the extent of their "independence". The UK government's "worries about security" are symptomatic for the obsession of the EU's ruling elite to avoid any direct contact with citizens -- despite all rethorics about "bringing Europe closer to the People". We can only hope that Cardiff won't see a repetition of the mass arrests and unlawful detention of hundreds of citizens (a virtual suspension of the basic civil right to demonstrate) which characterised last year's Amsterdam EU Summit.
I consider the People's Europe Summit a first attempt by a EU Presidency government (in close cooperation with the EU Commission) to do away with real EU criticism by hijacking a concept and subverting it into a non-critical pseudo-event. Look for words like 'critical', 'critique' or 'skepticism' on the People's Europe webpages -- you won't find them. What you do find are phrases like "NGOs with interests in Europe" or "articulating NGO opinions to government and EU institutions" (see below). Another telling example of the subtle manipulation is the absence of discussion on the Amsterdam Treaty in the People's Europe programme -- and that in a country where the parliament still has to ratify this Treaty! And finally the suggestion that ideas brought forward at the People's Europe '98 conference would be taken into consideration seriously by EU leaders one week later is outrightly misleading.
If this spin docter's ploy turns out to be a success we may expect this kind of top-down 'People's Summits' to become a regular phenomenon. I quote again from the People's Europe web site:
> What happens next
> Should People's Europe 98 be the start of something that > continues after the London conference in June? And if it > should, what form should the something take?
> The People's Europe 98 process has worked so well that these > questions are already exercising the group that is > organising the event in London in June - and we want to know > what you think.
> There are three possible courses of action. One is simply to > treat the conference as a one-off event and do nothing > afterwards except produce a report. That would be easy, and > there is no obligation on anyone to do more. When People's > Europe 98 was set up, the event was a goal in itself. At the > same time, however, there is no need for the conference to > mark the end of the People's Europe process. And several > people currently involved in it think that there is a real > possibility of using the conference as the basis for a more > permanent organisation.
> Two ideas in particular have support. One is to use People's > Europe 98 to set up a permanent forum in the UK of NGOs with > interests in Europe. The other is for People's Europe 98 to > facilitate the creation of a Europe-wide network that could > organise similar events throughout the European Union in > future.
> A UK forum of Europe-oriented NGOs based on People's Europe > 98 would be an impressive coalition of groups, taking in > organisations dealing with everything from social policy to > development and the arms trade. Nothing like it currently > exists. Such a forum could play a crucial role in > articulating NGO opinions to government and EU institutions > on all sorts of key policy questions, from economic and > monetary union to asylum policy.
> The idea of a Europe-wide NGO organisation to organise > People's Europe events all over the EU in coming years is > more ambitious. But the experience that People's Europe 98 > has had with the UK government, the European Commission and > the European Parliament suggests that there is a real > opportunity for NGOs in other countries to develop similar > partnerships.
> We'll be talking about all this on the Sunday of People's > Europe 98. If anyone has any ideas, send them in and we'll > make sure they're on the agenda.
Therefore I propose a workshop during the Cardiff Alternative Summit to discuss the implications of this new development and our possible answers.
Erik Wesselius (Towards a Different Europe, Amsterdam)
> PEOPLE'S EUROPE: PROGRAMME
> FRIDAY 5 JUNE 1998
> 19.00-21.00: Plenary debate, with: > NEIL KINNOCK, European Commission; > URSULA SCHLEICHER, MEP, Christian Social Union Germany; > SHIRLEY WILLIAMS, Liberal Democrats UK; > MICHAEL IGNATIEFF, UK; > MIKLOS HARASZTI, Hungary; > MAMADOU GAYE, SOS Racisme, France; > MARY KALDOR, Helsinki Citizens' Assembly, UK.
> SATURDAY 6 JUNE 1998
> PANEL discussions and WORKSHOPS
> 10.00-11.30: Panels and workshops > Panels on: > - REDUCING THE DEMOCRATIC DEFICIT > - CREATING JOBS > - WHERE DOES EUROPE END? > Workshops on:
> - INTEGRATING THE ENVIRONMENT.
> 12.00-13.30: Panels and workshops > Panels on: > - EUROPE OF THE REGIONS > - IMPLICATIONS OF THE EMU > - THE FUTURE OF AGRICULTURE. > Workshops on: > - THE EU AND THE DEBT CRISIS > - TRADING OUT OF POVERTY > - THE EU CODE OF CONDUCT ON ARMS TRADE > - TOWARDS A NEW SECURITY POLICY FOR EUROPE > - YOUTH AND CONFLICT RESOLUTION > - EUROPE AND THE NEW GLOBAL SETTLEMENT > - THE EU AND NORTH AFRICA (BY ICC) > - THE EU'S ROLE IN PROMOTING DEMOCRACY IN CENTRAL > AND EASTERN EUROPE > - THE EU, TURKEY AND CYPRUS
> 14.30-16.00: Panels and workshops > Panels on: > - SECURITY AND CITIZENSHIP > - EUROPE AND THE WORLD > - GLOBAL WARMING: AN OPPORTUNITY. > Workshops on: > - THE EU AND THE DIGITAL MEDIA REVOLUTION > - WHAT NEXT FOR THE EUROPEAN WELFARE STATE > - REDUCING YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT > - THE FUTURE OF WORK > - FLEXIBLE WORK IN EUROPE: THE IMPACT ON WOMEN > - THE CASE FOR EUROPEAN REFLATION > - THE CASE AGAINST EMU > - FAILED TRANSITIONS?
> 16.30-18.00: Panels and workshops > Panels on: > - LOCAL ECONOMIC STRATEGIES > - EUROPE AS PEACEMAKER > - IMPROVING THE QUALITY OF LIFE > Workshops on: > - RACISM IN EUROPE > - CONTROLLING THE EUROPEAN SECURITY STATE > - FORGOTTEN CITIZENS > - DEVELOPING A EUROPEAN POLITICAL CULTURE > - LEGISLATING AGAINST DISCRIMINATION > - CHALLENGES TO FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION IN EASTERN EUROPE > - WOMEN AND DEMOCRACY: THE GENDER DIMENSION > - A CONSTITUTION FOR EUROPE > - THE ROMA EXODUS > - CHILDRENS' RIGHT AS CITIZENS
> 18.00-19.00: Closing session with UK government minister
> SUNDAY 7 JUNE 1998
> 10.00-11.00: THE FUTURE OF EUROPE > young people explain what they want from Europe > in the next century > 11.00-11.30: PRESENTATION of European Commission's Citizens First project > 11.30-13.00: QUESTION TIME WITH ROBIN COOK
REAL PEOPLE'S EUROPE Neoliberal Strategies, Social Conflict and Counter-Strategies in the European Union ____________________________________________________________________
A week before the Cardiff Counter-Summit protesting at the EU Ministers' meeting, and on the weekend of the People's Europe 98 conference (promoted by the Foreign Office), the Conference of Socialist Economists presents:
10 am - 6 pm Saturday 6th June 1998 University of London Union, Room 3E, Malet Street, London WC1 (Goodge St/Russell Square tube stations) Admission. waged ?5, unwaged ?2 (5 or 2 pounds sterling)
Since the 1980s, the European Union has been developing neoliberal policies, which serve the globalization strategies of multinational capital.
The EU's role has provoked widespread Left opposition in the rest of Europe, though hardly in Britain. This long-overdue conference will analyse the class interests which presently drive EU policies, the strategies which they express, and current struggles against them. Researchers and activists will have a unique opportunity to discuss counter-strategies against the EU's neoliberal project. Themes include: work, flexploitation, unemployment, social exclusion, environment, women, welfare state, EMU, Fortress Europe.
Speakers include: Mino Carchedi (University of Amsterdam); Alan Thornett (Euromarch); Anne Gray (independent economist); Gerard Strange (University of Lincoln); Massimo De Angelis (University of East London); Geof Martin (UNISON); Jane Phillinger (European Forum of Left Feminists); also speakers from the Counter- Globalization Network; Reclaim Europe!, and the Cornerhouse.
The conference is promoted and organized by the journal, Capital and Class, and co-sponsored by the EuroMarch and the Counter- Globalization Network.
Details: Conference of Socialist Economists 25 Horsell Road, London N5 1XL, United Kingdom Tel: +44-171-6079615 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or M.DeAngelis@uel.ac.uk
Irish and Danish referenda on the Amsterdam Treaty _________________________________________________________________
---> Note from the editor of THE OTHER VOICES
Last month Danish and Irish citizens voted on the Amsterdam Treaty. As you will know, the NO-vote was remarkably high in both countries, but insufficient for rejection of the Treaty. As I didn't receive analyses of the results of the referenda, I include a collection of three articles on the Amsterdam Treaty which I found on the Irish Times web site. Although these articles were intended for an Irish readership, they merit reading by EU critics all over Europe.
The Irish Times web site has a very informative section dedicated to the referendum on the Amsterdam Treaty: <http://www.irish-times.com/irish-times/special/treaty>
Three advocates of the NO vote explain their positions on the Amsterdam Treaty
By Jens-Peter Bonde, Carol Fox and Anthony Coughlan _________________________________________________________________
Jens-Peter Bonde: -----------------
In every EU member state the people are calling for the right to vote on the Amsterdam Treaty. However, this opportunity is only being given to the people of this State, Denmark and Portugal.
A democratic country, such as Holland, appears happy to transfer the power of decision from the people and their elected representatives to the specialists and bureaucrats in the EU, and this without even asking the people's permission.
The Amsterdam Treaty has been drafted by 15 men. There isn't a single woman among the co-authors. It has been prepared by bureaucrats behind closed doors. Nevertheless they tell us that a re-draft is out of the question. In format the Amsterdam Treaty is an international treaty entered into by 15 nations. In substance, however, it seems more like a confused constitution for a new state.
It isn't an "idealist" democratic constitution which begins by outlining basic rights and the establishment of parliamentary democracy. The EU undermines democratic practice in the 15 member states and replaces it with more legislative power for the bureaucrats. These bureaucrats decide on laws which are irrevocable, and there is nothing the citizens of our countries can do about it.
Maybe it is wise to reduce the scope of democratic institutions. Maybe bureaucrats and specialists are better at deciding than the people and their elected representatives. Nevertheless, should we not at least have a discussion about this, before things are set in stone?
The Amsterdam Treaty can only be amended if all 15 countries agree. It is a fact that an EU law is only amendable if a majority can be achieved among the 20 non-elected commissioners. Added to that there must be 62 votes out of 87 in the Council in support of any amendment. Bear in mind that at this level the Irish minister or high-level official have only three out of 87 votes. The people of this State can still have general elections changing both D il ireann and the Government and thereby the ministers who represent them in the Council. Nevertheless, they will never be able to make a new law in the EU. When you have handed over the power of decision-making to the EU your democratic rights are not worth the ballot paper you vote on.
The people then find themselves with only the possibility of voting at European Parliament elections every five years. They can change a few faces around, but even if all the Irish voted for Euro-sceptics such as Patricia McKenna, they would not be able to initiate a new law or new amendments.
For the Irish people the situation is simple. They can have elections but they can not choose a new political direction. Accountable democracy only applies to issues which are still handled by the national parliament.
We could live with that as long as the EU confined itself to cross-border problems which can only be addressed at an international level anyway. The EU needs to see its limitations outside the spheres of trade and environmental problems. Consequently the democratic problems wouldn't seem so dramatic. Regrettably this isn't the case.
Under the Maastricht Treaty the principle of subsidiarity was introduced. Since then EU legislation has increased by more than 30 per cent. In 1992 EU legislation amounted to 16,027 Directives, Resolutions and other legal acts. This number had increased to 24,150 by 1997. There are thousands of secret committees. The European Parliament, despite its best efforts, can't even get a list of names of the people who are involved in the legislative processes going on in these committees.
Anyone can visit the European Parliament and watch the debates. The fact is, however, that this Parliament doesn't have much legislative power. The Amsterdam Treaty does give the European Parliament more power. However, this power only gives the Parliament a veto on issues, such as environmental standards, where it is hardly ever opposed to EU legislation. The right of veto and amendment should not be confused with real legislative power.
It certainly is a historical paradox that the EU consists of 15 democratic nations. Each of them acclaim the principles of parliamentary democracy on a national level, but when these countries share political sovereignty within the EU they seem to forget about democratic principles. I often hear the federalists say: "Well let's re-invent the parliamentary democracy on an EU level."
It is a pleasant enough thought. Unfortunately a European people as such doesn't exist. A vivid European democracy should first and foremost be based where the people can participate and follow the political process. We do not need the continued centralisation of decisions written in to the Amsterdam Treaty. We need a change of direction.
We should stop the continuous transfer of power away from the capitals of Europe to Brussels, the capital of the EU. Instead we should thoroughly examine the existing 20,000 EU-rules, with the aim of keeping only what is absolutely necessary.
1. First of all we should get rid of every Resolution that does not regulate a crossborder issue. The EU should not be at all concerned with issues which can be addressed by one member state internally which have no negative impact on other member states. 2. If, after all, EU legislation is necessary, it is important to reshape it in a way which leaves as much self-determination to the member states as possible. 3. A number of rules could work as common minimum rules. We don't need total harmonisation and complete unification. It is possible to have common minimum rules regulating the legal amount of pesticides in bottled water sold across borders, while at the same time allowing Denmark to apply stricter rules on pesticides. Why should the Commission prevent the Danes in Denmark from fighting toxic-pollution of their water, when the Danes are the only people who drink it?
We don't want a European super-state. We want a "Europe of Nations", a Europe of democracies. Our hope is that the Irish people will show their opposition to the Amsterdam Treaty at the Referendum on May 22nd. A "No" vote would give us the opportunity to re-draft the Treaty, providing for a slimmer, freer, more open and democratic European co-operation.
Jens-Peter Bonde is a member of the European Parliament for the Danish June Movement and President of Group of Independents for a Europe of Nations
Carol Fox : -----------
This article is aimed at those who support Irish neutrality but who believe that the Amsterdam Treaty will in no way erode that neutrality. For those who aren't really bothered about neutrality and don't mind throwing our lot in with a militarised EU, the Amsterdam Treaty poses no problem at all. It will allow Ireland to do that. The fact that Ireland is immediately committed - if Amsterdam is adopted - to the "progressive framing of a common defence policy" with the assistance of a military grouping that supports nuclear defence policies (the Western European Union) has obviously caused no problems for either the previous Coalition Government that negotiated it, or the present Coalition Government that signed it. This is extraordinary.
The essential question about the Amsterdam Treaty and defence is this: do the Irish people want the EU to develop a military capacity with a nuclear defence grouping (the WEU), and for Ireland to no longer be a neutral country with an independent foreign and defence policy? This is the direction in which Amsterdam is moving the EU. For example, a common defence policy, even (arguably) a common defence, and the involvement of Irish soldiers with EU/WEU combat forces to "manage" crises anywhere in the world, are all provided for under Amsterdam. Rather than have endless debates about whether or not the magic line has been crossed when neutrality suddenly disappears, it would be more useful if the pro-Amsterdam side would acknowledge the direction in which we're marching. Instead, we're told "nothing has changed" or "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it", never acknowledging what's been lost on the way to the bridge or perhaps that we never wanted to go towards it in the first place.
The political reassurances on neutrality are hardly credible. Recently, the Government, Fine Gael, Labour and Democratic Left refused to give concrete form to these assurances when in the Dail they wouldn't support a Green Party amendment to the Amsterdam Referendum wording, stating: "This ratification shall not compromise this State's policy of military neutrality". The Danish Government added a Protocol to Amsterdam, stating that Denmark would not participate in any EU decisions/actions having defence implications. The Irish Government could have done something similar but didn't.
It is the J Articles of the Treaty (Title V) which contain the main provisions on the EU's common foreign and security policy (CFSP). The CFSP will now include "the progressive framing of a common defence policy" with the WEU, and this "might lead to a common defence, should the European Council so decide". The Council shall then recommend to the member states the adoption of such a decision "in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements".
There is strong legal opinion that, because neutrality is not enshrined in the Constitution, there is no "constitutional requirement" for the above decision on common defence to be put to the Irish people in a future referendum (there has been a "political" promise by the present, and previous, Government to hold a referendum -- not at all the same thing). Whether Amsterdam licenses a common defence is vitally important. But the core question still remains: do we want a common defence at all? If not, why agree to participate in the process leading up to it?
More foreign policy decisions will be by qualified majority and will be binding, even on the minority who disagree. There is an "emergency brake" provision, allowing a member state to stop such a decision. But it's not in the nature of emergency brakes to be frequently pulled. There will be strong pressure to go along with the majority. Likewise, even though unanimity is required in the military and defence area, it's qualified by a "constructive abstention" provision, allowing some states to abstain while an EU sub-group proceeds with a military action. The abstainer accepts that the decision "commits the Union" and shall not take any action that will "conflict with" or "impede" the EU action. This form of flexibility will allow the EU to develop in the defence area more rapidly.
There has been very little debate about the WEU. However, this military grouping - inextricably linked to NATO, based on nuclear weapons, and with a binding mutual defence commitment - became an "integral part of the development of the EU" in the Maastricht Treaty. Now, in Amsterdam, it is seen as providing the EU with "access to an operational capability" and as supporting "the Union in framing the defence aspects" of the CFSP. The EU is "to foster closer institutional links with the WEU with a view to the possibility of the integration of the WEU into the Union, should the European Council so decide" and subject to member states' constitutional requirements. "Arrangements for enhanced co-operation" between the EU and WEU are to be drawn up within a year of Amsterdam's ratification. Anyone with any doubts as to how interlinked the EU is becoming with the WEU and NATO need only look at the Declaration attached to the Amsterdam Treaty (p.125-131) on the relationship between the three. It is astoundingly candid. Nowhere in the Amsterdam Treaty is "neutrality" even mentioned while references to the WEU and NATO abound. This interlinking will bolster both nuclear alliances and undermine not just our neutrality but the role that rightly belongs to the United Nations in the preservation of international peace and security.
But the most important immediate result of the WEU's involvement is the incorporation of its Petersberg Tasks into Amsterdam, including peacekeeping and humanitarian missions, but also "tasks of combat forces in crisis management, including peacemaking". These latter tasks are in reality a blank cheque and could involve the EU - and Ireland - in a wide variety of foreign military adventures. Also, for the first time in our history, Irish troops could be "peacekeeping" for someone other than the United Nations and without a UN mandate.
There is much more in the military field, e.g. co-operation in armaments for the first time, included in Amsterdam. It is a great pity that the EU - which has always prided its accomplishments in bringing age-old enemies together via peaceful cooperation - has decided to embark on a military career. It is also ironic that the Irish people in the two referendums on May 22nd will be being asked to vote, on the one hand, to take the gun out of Irish politics, and on the other, to put it into the politics of the EU.
Carol Fox is a researcher for the Peace and Neutrality Alliance
Anthony Coughlan: ----------------- I doubt if there is going to be either a fair or an adequate public debate on the hugely important Amsterdam Treaty referendum, for two reasons. The first is the Government's decision to hold the Amsterdam referendum on the same day as that on the Belfast Agreement, May 22. The cat was let out of the bag as to why this was this done, when an anonymous "Government spokesman" was quoted as saying that there had been representations from the European Commission urging that the referendum be held that day. The reason is so that the Irish vote before the Danes, whose referendum is six days later, on May 28. Brussels assumes that the Euro-enthusiastic Irish will say "yes" to Amsterdam, which in turn will put pressure on Denmark to do the same; for voters there just might say "no", as they did to Maastricht in 1992.
The Commission's "representations" may have amounted to no more than Mr Padraig Flynn or Commission President Santer making a phone call to the Taoiseach; but it was probably decisive. Smart politics, bad democracy, as The Irish Times editorial called it.
So despite the fact that "piggy-backing" the Amsterdam Treaty referendum on the back of that on the Belfast Agreement makes a considered debate on Amsterdam impossible; despite Minister Mary O'Rourke saying on radio that Amsterdam should be postponed; despite reports that Tanaiste Mary Harney and Foreign Minister Andrews thought the same, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern seems to have put Brussels' wishes first. And that despite the fact that the European Commission has no function whatever in the Treaty ratification process, which is the exclusive concern of the member states.
But there is a second, more fundamental, reason why the Irish people will not have a proper considered debate. It is because Irish opinion formers, and above all the Irish media and public policy-making elite, have failed utterly to date to inform the Irish public of the nature of the choice that is before them with regard to "Europe".
Any objective view of the development of the European Union up to now must conclude that each successive European treaty has been an incremental move of the original Common Market and the three European communities towards the establishment of a supranational federal European state.
The Amsterdam Treaty marks a significant and irrevocable step in this direction. This federal state to be, already named the European Union, was conceived in the 1992 Maastricht Treaty and will come to term on the ratification of Amsterdam. It is, presumably, the intention of its promoters that it will grow into full maturity in subsequent treaties.
It is no longer tenable therefore to argue - as advocates of earlier European treaties have done - that each successive treaty is motivated solely by practical considerations of efficiency and economy in the relations between the member states, or is concerned mainly with free trade, structural funds, headage grants, CAP or what have you.
Whatever might be said for or against the European Union state-building project, it is surely self-evident that the transformation of a "sovereign, independent, democratic State" - which is how the Irish Constitution defines our Republic - into a constituent element of a federal union, is a change of such far-reaching implications that it should be considered and debated openly and honestly on its merits.
It would be a travesty of democratic principles - and of the very principles on which this Union asserts its aspiration to be founded - to allow this process to continue without a very clear and conscious decision in that regard by the people of Ireland and the other member states.
It is somewhat ironic in this context that Article 1 of the Amsterdam Treaty declares: "This Treaty marks a new stage in the process of creating an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe, in which decisions are taken as openly as possible and as closely as possible to the citizen."
So far as Ireland is concerned, this constitutional-revolution-by- instalments has taken place to date under the cloak of pragmatic arguments as to the economic benefits to be obtained from EC/EU membership, with little or no serious consideration of the long-term political and constitutional implications of the ultimate objective.
Those who have sought to draw attention to what is happening have tended to be dismissed as obscurantist, narrow nationalists or - a special category of contemporary Irish political offence - "bad Europeans"!
The McKenna judgement, the recent Referendum Act and the establishment of the present Referendum Commission, have in principle opened up the prospect of a more balanced and informed debate on the fundamental democratic choices that are involved in ratifying Amsterdam. Do we decide certain things ourselves, or do we hand over more power to decide them to others - decisions on what our human rights are, the right to control our State borders, to determine independently large areas of our civil and criminal law, to pursue an Irish rather than a European foreign and security policy, to resist closer links between the EU and the Western European Union military alliance, and much more?
Will the Irish media, Irish opinion-formers and the Referendum Commission's information campaign on the Amsterdam Treaty ensure that the people of Ireland are confronted, for the first time, with a very clear choice as to whether or not to proceed with the full project of full federal integration?
A federal European Union state has never been openly canvassed before the Irish electorate. Yet that undeniably is what is in train. It matters little whether the Amsterdam Treaty is a large or definitive step in that direction. It is an integral part of the federal European state-building project, such that acceptance of the Treaty would make no sense unless the Irish people were in fact willing in principle to proceed to the ultimate destination.
I am doubtful whether the Irish people will be so alerted. The Government's decision to hold the Amsterdam referendum on the same day as that on the Northern peace deal, with which most people understandably are primarily concerned, makes it virtually impossible. If there were to be a reaction amongst our media to the political cynicism involved, or amongst our more independent-minded intelligentsia, perhaps it might just be possible. One lives in hope.
The Belfast Agreement, which is so full of hope for Ireland, in fact gives extra urgency to the need to alert people to what is happening vis-a-vis the EU. The Northern Agreement promises a reconciliation and closer relation between the people of this island; but that development will inevitably be affected by the process of European integration.
It is a remarkable twist of political fate that at the very moment when an historical rapprochement is being consummated between Ireland and Britain, a major currency barrier, which presages much else, is being erected across Ireland by means of the South's decision to join EMU on its own.
It would obviously be conducive to bringing North and South closer together that Ireland and the UK should co-ordinate their respective attitudes to the process of European integration and proceed in tandem with regard to it. Is this the time for Dublin to be drawing a new economic partition across Ireland, and helping to solidify it constitutionally by ratifying the Treaty of Amsterdam and the special provisions that it makes for the eurozone countries?
I suggest that this factor alone is sufficient to warrant the postponement of the Republic's ratification of the Amsterdam Treaty, and of our entry next January into the eurozone bloc, until the North-South implications of these developments have been considered by the new institutions to be established under the Belfast Agreement.
Anthony Coughlan is Senior Lecturer in Social Policy at Trinity College, Dublin. He is secretary of the National Platform, a non-party group which is opposed the European state-building project on democratic and internationalist grounds.
EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT SURRENDERS TO BIOTECH INDUSTRY: EUROPE LEGALISES BIOPIRACY IN DEFIANCE OF PUBLIC INTEREST ____________________________________________________________________
Greed has won a battle over ethics as the European Parliament has today (12 May 1998) with a large majority adopted the highly controversial "Biotech Patents Directive", also called "Life Patents Directive", and thereby granted biotechnology companies property rights on living organisms and human genes, proteins and cells.
In March 1995 the EP rejected a virtually identical text because they deemed it unethical. Now, after the largest lobby-campaign of the multinational biotech industries, and strong pressure from the Commission and the Council of Ministers, they have swayed around and have adopted this legislation without a single amendment at the second reading.
By doing so the EP has ignored all those numerous voices that have warned against this legislation. These come from various medical associations (e.g. the World Medical Association, the WHO), from many patient groups, from farmers (e.g. COPA and CPE), from plant and animal breeders, from churches and religious leaders, animal welfare and development organisations.
Above all, on the days before the vote forty-nine delegates to the fourth Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Bratislava asked the MEPs not to adopt the Councils' text, because it rewards biopiracy, that is, the appropriation and privatization of biological materials from third parties, without even requesting consent. Adopting the Directive, Europe given in to US and Japan laissez-faire approach to life patenting. In the opinion of Henk Hobbelink of GRAIN, "The European Parliament has unfortunately joined the US' crusade to allow for patents on virtually anything that lives. Today is a black day in Europe's history".
Farmers in Europe will be prevented from saving patented seed from several important crops for even their own use, although seed saving and seed exchange are the basis of the crop diversity that humankind - including biotechnology companies - rely upon. On the other hand, many patient organisations are shocked to see how medical developments will be monopolised by those owning patents on paticular human genes or on even well-known microorganisms. "Biodiversity in Europe has been sold to the highest bidder. Now the fulfillment of basic needs will be subject to royalty charge" Liz Hosken, of the Gaia Foundation stressed.
Contrary to the claims of some MEPs, the Directive is nto a clear, coherent document. It is still full of ambiguities and contradictions which will have to be resolved. MEPs have laid themselves open to challenges on this legislation.
--> For more information call: Helena Paul, GAIA Foundation. Tel: +44-171-4355000, or Anna-Rosa Martínez i Prat, GRAIN. Tel: +34-93-3011381
LIVE OR BUY EUROPEAN CENTRAL BANK OPENS UP - WE OPPOSE!
Protest against the European Central Bank in Frankfurt _______________________________________________________________________
We are against a Europe of big business, mass unemployment & social cutbacks!
We fight for a world that includes a variety of many different lifestyles!
A Europe without fortresses, with open frontiers for refugees!
Collective responsibilities, equal rights, and mutual co-operation, where nobody is considered illegal!
Against any kind of repression or imperialism for it only serves the interests of the privileged!
A self-determined life in dignity & justice for all!
PROTEST MARCH IN FRANKFURT /MAIN, GERMONEY JUNE 27th 1998, 12 a.m. at Opernplatz, Subway (U-Bahn) Stop: Alte Oper (U6 and U7)
In July, the European Central Bank will open up in Frankfurt. It will be the only central institution of the intended European Central Power based in Germoney.
Here is what we critisize:
ECONOMICS In order to meet the criteria for the Euro there will be social cutbacks through pension cuts, a two-class medical care system, demolition of public education systems, and impoverishment. This means an increase in social inequalities comparable to "Third World" standards!
MIGRATION POLITICS, RACISM & DISCRIMINATION Current politics leads to global destruction of basic natural resources as well as an enclosed "Fortress Europe". Within Europe, racial segregation is being nurtured, people are being classified as national citizens or strangers, those being employed or unemployed, women or men, healthy or sick, old or young, etc.
REPRESSION AND "DOMESTIC SECURITY" A two-way repressive strategy is being practised here: strengthening of military forces (what for if not for wars ?), domestic pressure by means of expulsion of the poor and homeless from city centers, unified police strategies, bugging and video-surveillance, etc.
EVERY KIND OF SUPPORT AGAINST THAT KIND OF EUROPE IS WELCOME !
Those of you interested in participating as artists/musicians in our European Protest March and subsequent NON-PROFIT FESTIVAL (same evening at Taunusanlage, Frankfurt) should contact: --------------------------------------------- Leo DJ "Doc" Weill E-Mail: G_Krass@hotmail.com Tel: +49-69-496600, Fax: +49-69-702039 (Please mark faxes with "Infopool") So far we can NOT guarantee any refunding for transport costs!!! ---------------------------------------------- For general and political information (leaflets & posters): Alliance against the ECB c/o Infoladen Exzess Leipziger Str. 91, D-60487 Frankfurt/Main, Germany Tel/Fax: +49-69-774670 (best times for calls: Sunday, 11.00-20.00 h CET, Monday 18.00-20.00 h CET) E-Mail: email@example.com
--> 5-7 June: London, United Kingdom
Programme: see above Location: London School of Economics / Peacock Theatre London, United Kingdom Contact: People's Summit Panther House, 38 Mount Pleasant, London WC1X 0AP United Kingdom Tel: +44-171-8331629, Fax: +44-171-8331652 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.pe98.org.uk/
--> 6 June: London, United Kingdom
REAL PEOPLE'S EUROPE; Neoliberal Strategies, Social Conflict and Counter-Strategies in the European Union
Programme: See above Location: University of London Union, Room 3E Malet Street, London WC1 Time: 10 am - 6 pm Contact: Conference of Socialist Economists 25 Horsell Road, London N5 1XL, United Kingdom Tel: +44-171-6079615 E-mail: email@example.com or M.DeAngelis@uel.ac.uk
--> 9-16 June: Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom
Not the Official Summit
Programme: see above Location: see above Contact: Reclaim Europe! 1 B Waterlow Rd, London N19 5NJ, United Kingdom Tel: +44-171-2729333, Fax: +44-171-5610800 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com Website: http://www.geocities.com/RainForest/5581/
--> 27 June: Frankfurt, Germany
Protest against opening of ECB
Location: Opernplatz, Subway (U-Bahn), Stop: Alte Oper (U6 and U7) Time: 12.00 a.m. Contact: Infoladen Exzess Leipziger Str. 91, D-60487 Frankfurt/Main, Germany Tel/Fax: +49-69-774670 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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This issue of THE OTHER VOICES was compiled by Erik Wesselius.
Completed: 4 June 1998. __________________________________________________________________
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