Tuesday, November 02, 2010

corporatist assault upon the EU


The EU is already heavily influenced by corporate lobbying and this look set to reach new depths of sociopathy with a move by the European Services Forum (Goldman Sachs, IBM, Vodafone and Deutsche Bank) to paste, word-for-word, a chapter from NAFTA into a new trade agreement Between the EU and Canada. As David Cronin relates over at OpenDemocracy:

"That chapter facilitates private firms to sue any of the three governments that signed NAFTA – the US, Canada or Mexico – if obstacles to making profits are encountered. The courts of arbitration provided for by the chapter can issue legally binding verdicts after hearings held in camera. If the ESF has its way, firms would also be able to put the European Union in the dock."
As usual, however dysfunctional the EU is it is actually well ahead of the UK in its progress towards lobbying transparency, however ahead doesn't mean they have won the race as corporations, obeying the mantra that "capital wants to be free", continue to push back against the legislation.

"The strategy being pursued by the captains of industry is all the more troubling, when one considers that they are sneakily trying to attain objectives that have been rejected by separate international fora. In a triumph for the so-called anti-globalisation movement, the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) was shelved in the late 1990s. Discussed at the level of the World Trade Organisation, that treaty was also designed to give corporations the power to counter green or social rules they regarded as pesky.

Recently, however, a letter signed by prominent writers and activists such as Naomi Klein, Susan George and José Bové (now a French MEP) dubbed the draft EU-Canada agreement a “carbon copy” of the MAI. Both contain the same “judicial monstrosity”, the letter noted."

As is usually the case the Green Party are ahead of the UK government in this matter- Caroline having called for the register of lobbyists way back in 2008. In New Zealand, too, the Greens are ahead of the curve, advocating a register of lobbying based on a Canadian model already in force. Although see here for some more regressive and alarming lobbying legislation from NZ.

Punkscience does not support prohibitions against lobbying but rather transparency from lobbying entities to reveal who exactly is funding their campaigns so that one can follow the money. This on its own, isn't enough to ensure a functional, representative democracy, of course. The Fourth Estate must operate independently to impart the information revealed by such legislation to the public and the public must be educated and enfranchised to act rationally on the information received.

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