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Home Current issue Year XIX, Number 1, February 2006
Year XIX, Number 1, February 2006

Steps towards European and World Federation

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    John Pinder

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    Chairman of the Federal Trust and Honorary President of UEF

We need "an active and capable EU [to] make an impact on a global scale [and thus] contribute to an effective multilateral system leading to a fairer, safer and more united world"1. Such was the conclusion of the strategy paper agreed by the EU Council in December 2003; and it corresponds to what surveys and other evidence show to be a prevalent aspiration among citizens of member states. Thus the question is not what the citizens and their governments want in this respect, but rather what the Union could do to bring it about; and the purpose of this article is to show how the federal idea, as manifested in the European experience since 1950, can make the only genuinely effective contribution to the process.
The first lesson from that experience is that the basic driving force for introducing substantial federal elements into the relationships among European states has been a deeply felt need to deal with the danger, in an unreformed interstate system, of the possible recurrence of intra-European war. That motive, along with the need to deal with common economic problems, has carried the Union far towards federal arrangements for the economy as well as to the establishment of permanent peace among the member states. But this application of the federal idea to its internal polity has not been accompanied by an equivalent process in its relationship with the rest of what is becoming an increasingly dangerous world. While the Union's strategy paper points in the right direction, it fails to convey a sense of how urgently action is required to confront the dangers facing Europeans today, including in particular from atomic, biological and chemical weapons in the hands of an increasing number of states and, potentially, of non-state terrorists; from various forms of pressure arising out of global poverty; and from catastrophic climate change. Nor does it indicate that the proper response is to introduce substantial federal elements into the Union's arrangements for external policy, as a major step towards a European federation.
But whereas the federal process has gone far in important aspects of the Union's internal affairs that are appropriate for it according to the criterion of subsidiarity, in the field of foreign policy, jealously guarded by most of the member states, the process remains at an early stage. The Union's structure, however, and many of its internal policies provide a basis on which a federal foreign and security policy can be built; and there is one field of external policy that already, for the last four decades, offers an astonishingly successful example.

Trade, money, aid, environment, defence
The Community's common external tariff had been put in place by the mid-1960s and the US responded to a suggestion from Jean Monnet by proposing the Kennedy round of Gatt negotiations, in which the participating states agreed to cut tariffs by an average of one third. As the Brookings Institution's expert on the subject put it: "The dominant position of the United States in Gatt evaporated with the implementation of the Rome Treaty ... the Common Market is now the most important member of Gatt, and can determine in large measure the success or failure of any attempt to liberalise trade. When Europeans instruct Americans in the realities of the new international economic situation they are demonstrating the change in relative power that has taken place"2. The consequence of this shift from hegemonic to bipolar leadership was not the trade wars and the mutual hostility that many opponents of a more powerful Union claim would follow from such a relationship with the US, but on the contrary a process of continued trade liberalisation with the EC/EU and the US as the principal actors, leading to the creation of the World Trade Organisation as the prime example of an effective rule of law in world affairs; and this stemmed from the Rome Treaty's provision not only of a federal instrument (the common tariff), but also a federal executive as negotiator (the Commission), with a federal procedure for accountability (qualified majority voting in the Council which, even if not often used, provides a deterrent to disruptive use of the veto)3.
In almost all other fields, the American relationship with Europeans, as with others, remains hegemonic, with an inevitable drift towards policies with imperial characteristics, which make the world neither safer, nor fairer, nor more united. But Europeans have not yet, four decades later, shown much sign of having learnt from this remarkable example of how they could, in most fields of policy, replace the American hegemony by a genuine partnership that is equally beneficial to both.
Thus although the euro has since 1999 become a counterweight to the dollar in international money markets, it remains far from that in the field of international monetary policy. Neither the eurozone nor the Union has the necessary federal elements in its institutions. The eurozone ministers and the Ecofin Council take their decisions without a procedure for majority voting; the European Central Bank is represented but there is no significant role for the Commission; and the eurozone does not dispose of a common vote in the IMF. But the eurozone could, with an effective common external monetary policy, preferably supported by Britain and other EU states, do much to promote a just and effective world monetary system, less vulnerable to the export of US domestic financial problems.
The EU provides over half the world's development assistance, four times that of the US. Most goes towards the attack on poverty. But a robust economy and good governance are more important for general welfare; and the Union has shown itself capable of providing, for example in the West Balkans, valuable assistance in a range of areas relating to public institutions, civil society and the economy. The EU aims to raise its contribution to 0.7 per cent of GDP; and the interests of both the recipients and the Union would be well served if a growing proportion is used to help enhance the contribution that the recipients can make to security and good governance as well as to their participation in an effective multilateral system.
The significant federal elements in the Union's internal environmental policy have provided a foundation for its leading role in global action on climate change. Despite the handicap of mixed Union and member state competences in that field, it was the Union that secured agreement in the Kyoto Protocol for a modest but significant start to the reduction of carbon emissions, which is a first step towards avoiding catastrophe in the second half of this century. It was moreover the Union which, against active American opposition, ensured the Protocol's ratification by enough states; and the external trade policy was a decisive instrument in this context too, as the essential Russian ratification was ensured by making it a condition of EU agreement to Russia's coveted entry into the WTO. The European Council has now adopted as its target the cutting of carbon emissions in half by the middle of this century; and if this is not to be a quixotic gesture, the Union will have to persuade enough other states to do the same.
Nearly half a century after the failure of the EDC Treaty, the Union returned to the field of defence, where it has recently taken significant steps: for example the creation of its military staff nucleus in the Council Secretariat; peace-keeping operations in Macedonia and the Congo; the creation of the Rapid Reaction Force and of a number of more quickly available smaller battle groups; and the establishment of the European Defence Agency. The Union can continue to build its capacity and to strengthen its institutions to the point where it can undertake almost any peace-keeping operation. But the US, to be joined perhaps by China, will continue to possess unrivalled military power.
The EU has, however, the potential to be the world's principal power in most fields of external policy save the military, where the US and probably China will continue to predominate; and the Union has so far failed to realise its potential, which is to become the predominant power in 'soft security', i.e. in all fields of external policy save the military, thus enabling it to make its full contribution to the building of an effective multilateral system. It is the process of progressively introducing more federal elements in the powers and institutions for the common foreign and security policy, encompassing its external policies as a whole, as has been done internally, which would enable the Union to achieve its aim in the world.

Completing the federal process in Europe and beginning it in the world
Surely enough of the Union's citizens and governments can be moved to support appropriate reform of the Union's instruments and institutions for external action, through understanding what it could do to enable Europeans to play their full part as prime movers of an effective multilateralism to avert the perils which confront the world; and through realising that this would not only ensure that the Union emerges from its present dangerous hiatus to engage citizens and governments in a great project, but can at the same time lead to the completion of its own federal process. Given previous experience since the Maastricht Treaty, it may well be that not all the twenty five member states would support such a development. But a core group, building on Joschka Fischer's suggestion, could agree to move ahead in the field of external relations, remaining open to the others to join them later. This would doubtless present many technical difficulties; but given the political importance of the project, they would not be insuperable. Nor should it be assumed that the British would automatically be incapable of taking part. The dissipation of pre-war British enthusiasm for the federal idea, which resulted from Britain's particular experience of the war, was the primary cause of the lack of support for Monnet's pragmatic method of federal steps applied to the Union's internal affairs. But the British are as much concerned as other Europeans about the dangers facing the world; and British citizens, if not yet the government, may be increasingly ready to prefer a genuine Euro-American partnership, with the Union strengthened through the application of federal principles, to American hegemony for dealing with them.
It is of course not only in the context of the European Union that the federal idea is relevant. The structure of an 'effective multilateral system' must, if it is to have real substance, contain a growing proportion of federal elements. That is the full implication of the strengthening of the United Nations which is an important aspect of the Union's external policy.
But while existing forms of cooperation can be further improved with states that are far from being liberal democracies, an increasingly federal relationship, with more promise for the future, can be developed among those that are ready and willing, as the European experience has demonstrated. An example of the concept is the proposal for a global climate community with appropriate institutions, for which the EU would take the initiative, and which, together with others from the North and the South of the world, most importantly India among the latter, could combine commitments for deep cuts in carbon emissions with mutual support for sustainable development4. As in Europe, the intention would be to deepen the relationship and enlarge the membership, and, in this case, to extend the process of federal development to the United Nations as a whole.
As Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa has observed, in his book on the subject, such a process will take a long time5. It is over half a century since the European Community was founded and the EU is still not a federation. The world will almost certainly take longer. But the relations between member states changed for the better from the time when the European process began. War among them became unthinkable and they were able to accomplish major projects together. Federalists must do everything possible to ensure that Europeans apply their federal experience for the benefit both of themselves and of the rest of the world.

1 A secure Europe in a better world, Brussels, Council of the European Union, December 2003, concluding paragraph.
2 Laurence B. Krause, European Economic Integration and the United States, Washington DC, The Brookings Institution, 1968, pp. 224-5.
3 For the role of the Community institutions in the Kennedy round, see David Coombes, Politics and Bureaucracy in the European Community, London, George Alien & Unwin, 1970, pp. 166-216.
4 See Christopher Layton, A Climate Community: A European initiative with the South, European Essay no. 15, London, Federal Trust, 2003, 1st edn 2001.
5 Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa, Dodici settembre: II mondo non è al punto zero (September 12, World is not at Point Zero), Milano, Rizzoli, 2002.

Reforming the United Nations by the Convention Method: Learning from the EU

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    Antonio Papisca

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    Professor in International Relations at the International Department of Research and Services on the Right of the Person and the People, University of Padova, Italy

In one way the difficult transition towards a new, more humane and sustainable world order resembles the problem of constructing a mosaic. It cannot be done without tesserae which someone must arrange for the mosaic to be completed.
With this metaphor my intention is to emphasise that the tesserae for our mosaic (that is, key elements of a sustainable world order) already exist in the internationally recognised moral and juridical paradigm of human rights, international law rooted in the United Nations Charter, multilateral institutions, actions, and precedents. But no coherent outcome has yet appeared because the political bodies which have the capacity to arrange the tesserae have so far lacked the courage to face up to that task: that is, they must make the blueprint for world order visible and ensure that people become aware that we are not groping in the dark and that it is possible to resist the ideology of Realpolitk determinism.
The second half of the 20th century saw some positive achievements (epiphanies of global good governance) which it is unreasonable to abandon: especially the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations Organisation, the UN system of Specialised Agencies, and regional integration processes such as, primarily, the European Union. Thus the planet has become like a house filled with a lot of useful appliances that are not properly exploited.

The "DNA" of a more humane world order
In the mid-20th century a human-centric revolution already changed the DNA of the world system. Today, people would no longer maintain as a matter of principle that respect for human dignity should be subordinated to state sovereignty. Apartheid and colonialism are now taboo. Security and development are increasingly seen as essential to the human condition. Unilateralism, although emphasised by the superpower leadership, is now considered unnatural and costly in both moral and economic terms.

The European system and processes as a fertile lesson for the world
With the European Union presenting a mixed picture of conflict and confusion, though also offering a wealth of opportunities, we may wonder whether it is truly capable of collecting and arranging the tesserae of the mosaic portraying our emerging world order. Its biggest task is to develop and improve our common heritage of universal values into a coherent strategy for building world peace.
That requires moral consistency, general appeal, the ability to govern and lead by example. Can the European Union live up to these standards? Empirical evidence says yes, provided we assume it is also capable of doing so within its own system. My arguments are as follows.
The European integration process has been a model of how it is possible to construct lasting peace between states, peoples and religious entities which for many centuries were fighting each other. The European system is a living laboratory of mutual learning between differing political systems and cultures. It is a real yardstick of intercultural dialogue in a very complex historical context.
The European system is also a laboratory of multi- and supra-national governance based on the principle of subsidiarity, both territorial and functional. We can actually say that the system is proving to be successful in carrying out the twofold task of 'agenda development' and 'institution building', in order to suitably meet the governance needs stemming from the structural crisis of traditional statehood, namely the crisis in both state 'capacities' and state 'form', and of the democratic practice. The European Union is the trans-national system in which new and more sophisticated forms of governance - better, of statehood - are actually pursued.
The European system is pioneering international democracy - that is, genuine transnational democracy with supranational political institutions legitimatised through the direct election of a parliamentary body and the participation of civil society organisations and groups in the decision-making process at the supranational level.
The European Union is metabolising the pattern of internationally recognised human rights both in its own practices and externally. Its Charter of Fundamental Rights, proclaimed in Nice in December 2000 and now included in the draft Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe, advocates the full "constitutionalisation" of the EU system. In treaties with third countries the EU is developing the practice of including a "human rights clause" and by means of speeches and financial largesse it has also campaigned for the establishment of a functioning International Criminal Court.
Furthermore, the European Union is gradually extending both the concept and the practice of citizenship. While the Maastricht Treaty established EU citizenship as a basket of additional rights available only to member states' citizens - ad alios excludendos -, the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights covers all human beings, thus in effect extending citizenship ad includendum: a universal and plural citizenship. This challenges the discriminatory approach of the original Maastricht provisions. In this respect the EU is acting as a laboratory for structural change in line with universal ethics and therefore offers an example for the entire world.
The "convention method" used in the ongoing European institution-building process of the EU's comprehensive democratisation. So far two European Conventions have been held, the first on human rights and the second dealing with EU's future structure and resulting in the draft Constitutional Treaty. The rationale behind this innovative practice is that, in accordance with subsidiarity, the traditional Summit Conferences need to be complemented by a more extensive and diversified input when deciding on major statutory revisions. The intrinsic value of the convention method lies in the plurality and diversity of its membership. This allows for a more representative participation, thereby drawing on a wider range of ideas and experience, and increasing legitimacy.

Strengthening & democratising the United Nations as a EU priority
Everything mentioned above should be sufficient to make the European integration process an impressive example for all, and the European Union a credible actor in world politics. But being "an example" is a boomerang for the EU. Globally it is expected to act in accordance with the magnitude of its achievements, and that it has a moral duty to act as a power characterised by successful human rights mainstreaming, peace-building and democratisation. Yet, though it has a single domestic currency, the absence of a EU "single voice" in world politics means that it still lacks the capacity to use those successes as a power resource.
In playing a major role, the EU should give priority to the arrangement of the "world order" mosaic's tesserae, bearing in mind (a) that behind economic deregulation lies a strategy of institutional deregulation, undermining systems of organised multilateralism, supranational criminal justice, collective security, and non-profit transnationalism; and (b) that the destiny of (new) International Law based on human rights is inevitably linked with the future of the United Nations, of multilateral cooperation, and of the entire network of international organisations. If we abandon these we shall be left without the mechanisms necessary to implement human rights, pursue collective security and human development goals, even that to extend democracy.

The EU task regarding the United Nations
The United Nations Organisation has had its failures and its successes. Nevertheless it contributes to a positive future for the world. To quote but a few of its achievements, it has helped create respect for an international law of human rights, with its complementary philosophy of concern for human security and human development, the enhanced culture and practice of multilateral cooperation, the ongoing pressure to improve the status of women and their role in the world's political agenda, collaboration with NGOs and civil society movements, the development of international criminal law and the establishment of a supranational criminal justice machinery, etc.
As a matter of priority, in its foreign and security policy the European Union should therefore make what I would call a "preferential choice" in favour of strengthening and democratising the United Nations in accordance with Article I-3 (The Union's objectives) of the draft EU Constitution: "In its relations with the wider world, the Union shall uphold and promote its values and interests. It shall contribute to peace, security, the sustainable development of the Earth, solidarity and mutual respect among peoples, free and fair trade, eradication of poverty and protection of human rights, and in particular the rights of the child, as well as to strict observance and development of international law, including respect for the principles of the United Nations Charter".
Seen from this perspective, the question of the UN reform cannot be regarded as simply one aspect of a wider agenda of world order issues. It is in fact central to this agenda.
Over the past four decades innumerable working groups, panels, comitŽs de sages, eminent personalities both within and outside the UN itself have produced a plethora of largely empty reports and dossiers on the UN reform. They lie scattered across the landscape like tombstones in a mediaeval graveyard. And yet the need for reform remains urgent, for there is no reasonable alternative to an effective United Nations Organisation.

Needed: a "Universal Convention" to strengthen & democratise the UN!
Reform of the UN should be undertaken in accordance with the principles enshrined in the UN Charter and other human-centric legal instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights whose Preamble contains the key message, namely: "the recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world".
The reform strategy should pursue two main objectives: democratisation of UN organs and their decision-making processes; and balancing the two thematic elements in the Charter represented institutionally by the Security Council and the present Economic and Social Council. New headings for these two thematic elements could be, respectively, human security and human development.
Democratisation of the UN is an absolute priority. Without it, no further changes, developments or improvements are possible. But it must be emphasized that international democracy means genuine democracy: not simply "one state, one vote", but more direct legitimacy of the international organs, involving increased popular participation in the way decisions are taken, with autonomous civil society initiatives at the world political level.
UN democratisation should be conceived as a process that will urgently pursue such major goals as, for example:
¥ making the Security Council more representative, preferably by reorganising or complementing its membership on regional basis,
¥ establishing a UN Parliamentary Assembly and a permanent Global Civil Society Forum,
¥ enhancing the role both of non-governmental organisations and local government institutions,
¥ reinforcing the ECOSOC functions in pursuing social justice goals, including the empowerment of the UN human rights machinery,
¥ establishing a permanent UN police force (both civil and military),
¥ enlarging the mandate of the International Criminal Court and strengthening its structure,
¥ endowing the International Court of Justice with the right to assess the legitimacy of the Security Council acts.
The practice of representative and participatory democracy in the UN would almost certainly have a huge impact among its member states, for international democracy would then be seen as the independent variable of internal democracy. Through dialogue, peaceful exchange, and cooperation, it would have an increasingly positive influence.
Balancing the two main thematic elements of the Charter also means that the Economic and Social Council should be endowed with the powers needed to orient the world economy and world affairs towards social and economic justice. As we know, the area at present covered by ECOSOC is both extensive and relevant. It includes economic and social affairs as well as the human rights mechanisms and rather loose advisory functions of coordination vis-ˆ-vis the Bretton Woods institutions. Yet, notwithstanding the crucial relevance of these policy areas, its powers are not in any way comparable with those of the Security Council.
Within and around the UN system we speak of human security and human development as two sides of the same coin, both being multi-dimensional and affecting the same subjects, namely individuals, groups and peoples. Why then, in comparison with the Security Council, is ECOSOC so feeble and endowed with so few powers?
To make ECOSOC genuinely a Council for economic, social and environmental security, its functions and powers should be increased to the level of the present Security Council. Such a package, which would be fully consistent with the principles of interdependence and the indivisibility of all human rights, would enormously strengthen the entire UN system.
The practice of democracy within the UN should start already during the preparatory phase of drafting a comprehensive document on its reform: that is, a framework document having both moral and political authority. It is needless to emphasise the delicacy of this phase and the influence it will have on the subsequent formal decision-taking process.
Drafting should take place in a plural and participatory context, by which I mean that the reform document should be prepared by an ad hoc body whose membership should be broader and more diversified than in strictly intergovernmental bodies, as the General Assembly or the Security Council. Its composition must break away from the usual stagnant, inconclusive self-referentialism of the debate at the United Nations headquarters, and also from the hidden agendas of powerful governmental lobbies.
My proposal is that by means of a resolution endorsed by the General Assembly - where veto power does not exist - a "Global Convention for strengthening and democratising the United Nations" should be established, whose composition would ideally be comprised of the following representative segments:
¥ UN member states, by regional groupings
¥ relevant institutions of the UN system
¥ regional organisations
¥ national parliaments and the parliamentary assemblies of regional bodies
¥ local government authorities (through a newly established NGO of "United Cities and Local Governments")
¥ NGOs having consultative status at the UN and in global civil society networks
¥ Women's global movement
¥ Permanent Observers to the UN
In practice, this Global Convention for UN Reform would bring reality to the UN Charter's introductory words: "We, the Peoples of the United Nations". Their anticipatory message of a truly trans-national democracy would find an echo in the minds of millions active members of global civil society organisations and movements. A special website would ensure the widest possible access to the Convention's proceedings, and its final conclusions would then be submitted to the General Assembly as the mandatory institution of this ad hoc body.
As we have seen, the European Union has twice used the convention method with positive results. Its experience entitles it to take the initiative and propose that the question of UN reform should be addressed by the same pluralistic method, duly adapted, of course, to the world context.
The UN Convention would be more than a mere 'working group'. It would be a constituent entity with a mandate to draft a coherent set of formal proposals. In this way it should be possible to finally overcome the sterile inter-governmental approach, which until now has proved to be the real obstacle to UN reform.

A Constitution for the Internet

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    Stefano Rodotà

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    Professor in Civil Law at the University "La Sapienza" of Roma, Italy
    Former member of the Convention which drafted the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU

Is the Internet in need of a Constitution? The question is topical after the news of censoring initiatives by the Chinese government, leading to the arrest of a dissident there, and even of the cooperation offered by an American portal, Yahoo!. The question cannot be dodged by arguing that any attempt to impose rules on the Web is impossible or unnecessary. The Internet is the widest public space mankind has ever known, where every day millions of people exchange messages, produce and acquire knowledge, build up political and social participation, play, buy and exchange goods and services. Can all this be left to the bullying of authoritarian regimes or to the conveniences of the market?
Some months ago Microsoft already started agreeing to warn its Chinese customers not to use words like liberty, democracy, participation in their electronic messages. More seriously, Yahoo! provided the information necessary to trace back an e-mail that a journalist, Shi Tao, had sent to the United States, reporting on a warning issued by the government to journalists over the risks of the presence of dissidents at the Tienanmen Square's anniversary. Shi Tao was later sentenced to ten years in prison for spreading allegedly secret news. Finally, a law was passed that subjects messages over the Internet to strict control, authorizing only the "good" ones, in order to avoid a democratic contagion spreading via the Web that might foster the influence of voluntary organizations, make mobilization possible among the more than one hundred million Chinese web-surfers, and thus bring about not only dissent, but also rebellion. Do we have to draw the conclusion that the Internet is by its very nature democratic, and incompatible with authoritarian regimes?
All these facts show very clearly that Internet problems cannot be analyzed from the viewpoint of the traditional libertarian idea that considers the Web to be an intrinsically anarchical space capable of autonomously redressing a violated liberty and which cannot bear any regulation. But to justify the information against the journalist, one of the founders of Yahoo! stated that his company abides by the laws of the country in which it operates. Rules, therefore, exist, and they are severe, and are reinforced by disquieting alliances between States and enterprises, becoming instruments that do limit liberty.
Thinking of legal rules to counter that possibility becomes a necessity, and almost a democratic duty. But one is immediately faced with concrete obstacles, raised in every sector against any attempt to devise legal guarantees adequate to meet the realities of a globalized world and of the new "spaces without borders" like the Internet: namely the sovereignty of national states, and the deep-rooted habit among trans-national companies of claiming to be themselves the issuers of the rules affecting them.
Have we no choice but to give up, or should we simply trust in the virtues of the Internet? Looking around, one can spot other possibilities. A fine analyst, Franco Carlini, is proposing a social reaction: let us immediately exploit the opportunities offered by the Web itself, the sensitiveness of the surfers and the possibility of immediate mobilization, replying in this way to any message coming from a Yahoo! mailbox: "Your message is refused, but we will be pleased to read it if it comes from any mail service other than Yahoo! and is respectful of human rights". In Italy, the members of Magistratura Democratica (Democratic Magistracy) are already doing that, and the Peacelink association offers a mailbox to those who quit Yahoo!. Lacking guarantee rules, citizens all over the world are trying to give shape to a kind of counter-power.
Initiatives of this nature, that take advantage of every means the Internet can give, have been defined as "poacher's strategies", and in other situations have produced significant results, as in the case of the boycott of transnational companies exploiting juvenile labour. At present, Reporters sans Frontières provides instructions about how to spread information over the Internet without being detected. This is more difficult because of the presence of a national state determined to maintain a hard line, and Yahoo!'s interest in conquering China's enormous market. However, should the type of reaction illustrated above succeed in getting a sufficient critical mass, it would surely have more than symbolic importance. That is why the thesis of those arguing that it is better to accept what Yahoo! is doing rather than leave Chinese customers to a much more oppressive national monopoly is not convincing. The very fact that the problem has been raised highlights the concrete risk of a "market censorship". This is a matter on which I have long ago tried to focus people's attention, and it cannot be dodged, considering that the Web's commercial uses have surpassed the non-commercial, thus opening up the prospect of deep changes in the nature of the Internet itself.
The chances of success for strategies from below increase if they are also backed by institutional strategies. When I speak of a Constitution for the Internet, I am not thinking, of course, of a document similar to national Constitutions, but of the necessity to define the principles on which to base rights relevant to the situations in which those using the Internet find themselves. As a constituent assembly to promulgate those rights is unthinkable, it is necessary to follow different paths, seizing all the opportunities in any part of the world as they arise.
A good starting point could be the European Union's Charter of Fundamental Rights, in which the right to protection of personal data is actually recognized as an autonomous fundamental right. This means going beyond the traditional notion of privacy, and considering the strong protection of personal information as an inalienable aspect of the liberty of a person. It is important to keep this in mind, because the European Union constitutes at present the region in the world with the highest level of protection of personal data, and this fact is influencing decisions in many other countries.
At the World Conference on Privacy, held in Venice in September 2000, the Chief of the Italian Authority launched the project of an international Conference on this topic. This proposal was upheld by the World Conference recently held in Montreux. As past experience shows, reaching agreement will require lengthy negotiations between governments. In the meantime, all the bodies involved in managing the Internet- whether states, citizens, providers, producers, enterprises, or other authorities - are required to start strengthening and enforcing the rules already written down in several documents, experimenting the "new-generation" codes of self-discipline - that is, those which are not the product of sectorial interests only, but are the result of a joint discussion with public bodies - while ascertaining which problems can be solved through better design and usage of existing technologies, thus helping to establish what a new Convention should include in practice.
Along this road, the opportunity offered by the World Summit on the Information Society, to be held in November in Tunis on the initiative of the United Nations, should not be missed. In fact, there is a proposal that at that meeting a Charter of Rights for the Web be approved, which starts from the recognition that the Internet is bringing about a new, great redistribution of power. Lest censorship-oriented attitudes prevail, it is high time to demand some "constitutional" principles as part of a new planetary citizenship: freedom of access, freedom of usage, the right to knowledge, respect for privacy, recognition of new public goods. In Tunis there will be an opportunity to decide whether technical management of the Internet should pass from the United States to the United Nations.
Meanwhile the European Union, which could act as the motor for this process and has taken a courageous stance on the issue of Internet's management, is going through a period that risks being dominated solely by security concerns. The italian journalist Federico Rampini writes that "the authorities in Shanghai have installed cameras in Internet Cafés and check the documents of people entering them". That happens in Europe too, while the Commission in Brussels, mainly under pressure from Great Britain, is proposing to redraft in a restrictive sense the legal framework concerning phone communications, electronic mail and the Internet, beginning with how long the data concerning them should be kept. Reacting to this development, the European Parliament and the Warrant Authorities point out that we are dealing here with fundamental rights which cannot be restrained without upsetting the democratic character of our societies.
This confrontation highlights the constitutional dimension of the Internet. It is all the more necessary that the legitimate call for a widespread protest against Yahoo! should apply equally to those European rules that go well beyond the requirements of security protection.

* From La Repubblica of October 20, 2005.

Tunis: The Battle over Internet Governance has just Begun

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    Francesco Ferrero

Respecting Differences, Abolishing Frontiers

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    Lois M. Wilson

The Next Phase of the Constitutional Process and the European Citizens' Conventions

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    Guido Montani

Participatory Democracy in the EU

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    John Parry

The European Vacuum

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    Andrea Bonanni

The Enemy always near by

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    Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa

On Some Aspects of the European Social Model(s)

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    Lionello Casalegno

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    Assistant to the Editor, The Federalist Debate

People frequently talk today of the challenges of globalization, and in particular of the changes that it imposes on the economic and social systems of our societies in the name of a competitivity which must be pursued at all costs if we want to survive in this world that has become global. Many take for granted solutions that require lower taxes, less State, more flexibility in the labour market. Neo-liberal theories appear to be dominant at present in the Western world, and the defense of the welfare levels attained in the past decades is viewed as a rearguard battle to protect privileges by now absurd and unsustainable. There are certainly big differences among the various countries: for historical reasons in Europe in particular there is greater consideration for social aspects than, for example, in the United States. We can then ask ourselves whether one can, for a start, talk of a European model in respect of the problems just mentioned and more generally of the criteria that guide the organization of society and the economy, and of living together.
In the opinion of many scholars a European model does exist, and it differs from other models in various aspects. C. Buhigas Schubert and H. Martens1, for example, point out three features: first, as proclaimed in the EU Constitution (still to be ratified) and in common with other Western countries, it is founded on such values as democracy, the rule of law, and respect of human rights. In addition, it is characterized by relying on multilateralism and "soft power" as the means of solving international disputes. Secondly, Europe is characterized by social economies, and by its willingness to balance economic achievements with such other goals as social cohesion, leisure and environmental sustainability. Thirdly, it is consequently characterized by having a larger public sector than most other countries.
To give some figures, social transfers (pensions, sickness and disability schemes, unemployment benefits, housing programs, etc.), aimed at reducing poverty and helping to achieve greater social equality, affect (excluding pensions) 52% of the EU population, with however significant differences between countries (from 70% in Denmark to 17% in Italy). This is reflected in the level of taxation, which is 26% of GDP in the USA (and similarly in Japan and Russia), while in Europe it is around 41,8%; and in the size of the public sector which is around 50% of GDP in Europe, with the UK at 40% and Sweden at 67%.
The role of the public sector therefore, which as we said is peculiar in Europe for its significant size, is fundamental for the economy and for social cohesion. It may be, as some believe, an unbearable burden, an elephantine bureaucracy, a big obstacle to national competitivity and to the good functioning of the market. But, if efficient, it may also be a protagonist of development, as we will see.
Going in greater depth into the economic and social realities of the 25 European countries, one can immediately see that there is no single European social model, but four or five, commonly defined by geographical area (but also with matching statistical indicators, see Fig.1), as, for example, in the recent Sapir Report2, or in the European Policy Center's Working Paper No. 20 of September 20053. Thus we have:
• the Nordic model (Denmark, Finland, Sweden, plus The Netherlands), where the highest levels of social protection expenditure can be found. Government intervention in the market economy is low; instead, it is significant in providing "active" policies for the unemployed. Workers' unions are strong.
• the Anglo-Saxon model (the UK and Ireland), where social expenditure amounts to 21,8% of GDP (2001). The attitude to markets is quite liberal; social benefits are targeted and work-conditional, and privately paid welfare plans are growing. Employment rate is higher than the average in the EU, and the national welfare system looks financially sustainable. Trade unions are weak, salary dispersion is high and growing, with a large presence of low paid jobs, hinting at a non-negligible probability of falling into poverty (see Fig.1).
• the Continental model (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany and Luxemburg), is characterized by good welfare coverage, which, however, is financed to a large degree by employment-adverse taxes. So relatively low employment rates and the demographic challenge of aging population, determining a shrinkage in active population, risk making the system financially unsustainable. Germany in particular, as well as Southern Europe, finds itself in a "welfare without work trap" in which young people and women in particular are penalized by the scarcity of jobs.
• the Mediterranean model (Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain) has many features in common with the Continental model. It is further conditioned by the sizeable incidence of pensions on social budgets, and by frequently resorting to early retirement to put segments of working age population out of the labour market. Workers' unions are still rather strong, although their membership is declining and they are criticized for protecting traditional jobs without sufficient openness to the new professions and a more modern (and equitable) approach to welfare.
(A fifth group would be that of the Eastern countries that have recently joined the EU, but this is considered a transitional group, as pretty soon they will very likely adopt one of the previous models).
Fig.1, taken from Ref. 2, shows how the EU-15 countries are placed with reference to two parameters, namely the Employment Rate and the Probability of Escaping Poverty (= 1 - Poverty Rate). The countries group together around the point representing the European average values, which is taken as the origin of the horizontal and vertical reference lines according to the definitions given above, the only exceptions being Austria and Portugal which would be more similar, respectively, to the Nordic and Anglo-Saxon models. Sapir gives also a different, telling interpretation of the same diagram. As a model can be considered "efficient" if it creates enough employment, and "equitable" - if it keeps the risk of poverty among the most disadvantaged part of its population low -, then the two axes may represent respectively the "Efficiency" and the "Equity" of a model. So, the Nordic model is both efficient and equitable, the Continental is equitable but inefficient, the Anglo-Saxon is efficient but not very equitable, and the Mediterranean delivers neither efficiency nor equity.
Let us now consider the model that from what we have seen so far looks the most interesting: the Nordic model. Its success appears to be due to a good mix of the Anglo-Saxon model with its liberal approach to the market and the Continental model with its provision of good social protection; hence the presence of a strong role of the public sector (taxes in the Nordic model countries are at 45-51% of GDP, as opposed to 31-37% in the Anglo-Saxon model).
The Nordic countries also rank consistently among the first when countries are compared according to other indexes which take into account not only strictly economic factors, but also factors measuring the satisfaction of citizens with regard to government, the business environment, their own lives, etc. So, among the top ten countries in the Human Development Index (UN, 2001) we can find five Nordic countries (NCs), in the Quality of Life Index (Economist Intelligence Unit, 2005) 4 NCs, in the Responsible Competitiveness Index (AccountAbility, 2004/5) 5 NCs. The World Economic Forum has published the rankings in the Growth Competitiveness Index for 2005, and Finland is once more first, followed by the United States, and then Sweden and Denmark; and also in the nine "pillars" of the Global Index (comprising, for example, Institutions, Higher Education and Training, Innovation) Finland is always in the first twelve. And so it is in the Corruption Perception Index by Transparency International.
What is particularly striking in these statistics is the fact that the countries excelling in competitiveness are also the ones which simultaneously exact the highest levels of taxation. How is it possible? Does it not contradict the maxims of neo-liberal theories?
For sure there are many elements that make such a remarkable result possible. First of all, there is the efficiency of the public sector, both in providing services (education, health, etc.), and in managing the redistribution of resources, and in particular social transfers. Also, it becomes itself a propeller of the economy when, for example, it directly invests in research and development, in environmental technologies, in the technological innovation of the state administration (e-government), or the ever more widespread care of the elderly. Transparency and the virtual absence of corruption were mentioned already. These are things that require a highly developed civic conscience in all levels of the population, a conscience that took a long time to truly become a national cultural trait.
A second element is the institutionalized dialogue between workers, entrepreneurs and the State which in the Nordic countries, in particular in Denmark, has become known as "flexicurity". Briefly, it consists in a combination of (very liberal) regulations on labour flexibility; a generous and efficient system of assistance to the unemployed; and an "active" public policy towards the labour market, which aims to requalify those out of work. It is to be noted that about 80% of workers are members of a union, and yet about 30% of Denmark's work force change jobs every year. They do not lose their pension rights or paid holidays, etc., and they receive benefits and training. Thus the entrepreneurs have a very flexible work force available. Rather than job security, the trade unions protect the possibility of developing workers' competences. They and the whole system aim not at avoiding unemployment but rather "at getting the unemployed back to work by making them employable". The idea is that "security does not come from having the same job for as long as possible, but from being able to qualify progressively for the many new job opportunities which arise in a dynamic labour market"4.
The result is that in those countries globalization is not seen as a frightening threat. According to a Gallup poll carried out this year, only 40% of Danish workers think there is a "very large" or "large" risk that their jobs might be relocated in another country, while 90% judge the risk to be "low" or "non-existent". And if they should indeed lose their job, 59% of Danes think it will be "easy" or "very easy" to find a new one.
The question that comes naturally is: can the Nordic model be exported? Can it become the Europe-wide model? "Unfortunately not" is the answer most experts give. Too many elements are linked to intrinsic features in those societies and cultures; and there is not even complete uniformity among the Nordic countries themselves. However, at least two general indicators can be drawn from this quick presentation of the European social models.
The first is that some reform of the Continental and Mediterranean social models in the direction of opening the labour market to a greater flexibility is necessary, but balanced by "active" and efficient means of social protection. Only thus can social reforms in Europe acquire the consensus necessary to become acceptable.
The second indicator is that, despite what the neo-liberals assert, advanced social models which aim at a good level of national competitiveness hand-in-hand with an important role for the State in maintaining social cohesion, protecting and promoting citizens' welfare and education, can be financially possible and sustainable. The success of the Nordic countries is there to prove it.

1 C. Buhigas Schubert and H. Martens eds., The Nordic Model: A Recipe for European Success?, EPC Working Paper No. 20, September 2005.
2 A. Sapir, Globalization and the Reform of European Social Models, Bruegel, September 2005, http://www.bruegel.org.
3 Schubert and Martens, op. cit.
4 Ibid.

 



An Analysis of European Society

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    Alessandro Cavalli

The EU and Iran's Nuclear Program

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    Sergio Pistone

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    Vice-President of UEF; Professor in History of European Integration at the University of Torino, Italy

The issue of Iran's nuclear program is evolving to become a serious crisis. Unless innovative ideas are found, two possible scenarios, both extremely dangerous, are looming.
The first scenario is the acceptance, for sure accompanied by political and moral censure and also by economic sanctions, of Iran getting access to nuclear weapons.
First of all, there is to stress how utterly risky it is to apply to Iran the argument of a stabilizing effect of nuclear deterrence as we experienced in the framework of the USA-USSR confrontation during the cold war. In reality, the acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran would increase, not reduce, that country's vulnerability in the face of the two nuclear States that Tehran feels are possible foes, i.e. the USA and Israel, as it is ill-founded to believe that Iran has the technical and economic resources to develop an effective second-shot nuclear capability in the short run. The acquisition by Iran of nuclear weapons would therefore make more likely a pre-emptive missile or aerial attack against its nuclear installations and plants.
There is also to keep in mind that Iran, besides having an authoritarian regime with strong fundamentalist tendencies (that have been strengthened under the new President Ahmadinejad, who has even made statements on the elimination of Israel from the Middle East maps), is an unstable State (a similar thing can be said of Afghanistan), where there may be a serious risk of the weapons passing into terrorists' hands, against whom deterrence cannot possibly work, as they do not possess a home territory that can act as hostage for retaliation. If it is not possible to rely on the stabilizing effect of deterrence, it is nevertheless certain that Iran becoming a nuclear power would trigger a domino effect in the entire Middle East, as many Arab States - with Saudi Arabia and Egypt first among them - would be inexorably pushed to start their own nuclear programs. This would make the state of regional security much less secure for Tehran and for all the other States in the area, with evident, very serious implications for the global situation.
The alternative to accepting Iran as a nuclear power is the possibility of a pre-emptive attack by the USA or Israel to destroy the Iranian plants before they get to the stage of producing nuclear weapons. This too would be a nightmare scenario. The already extremely critical situation in the Middle East would erupt with almost uncontrollable consequences for energy supplies (and hence for world economic development), terrorism, and migratory waves. Moreover, the already difficult relationship between Western countries and the developing world, particularly the Islamic states, would suffer serious repercussions. The discriminating attitude that accepts in the Middle East Israel's nuclear armament and fiercely opposes Iran's would be perceived as an intolerable act of arrogance by the West and could only reinforce the tendency towards a clash of civilizations.
As the dangers of Iran's nuclear program become clear, there is an urgent need to formulate a political plan to avert Iran's nuclear armament and then to take concrete steps to put this plan decisively into effect without resorting to the risky option of a pre-emptive attack. For such a policy to be sound, it must be capable of meeting both Iran's objective security requirements, and those of its economic development. It must be stressed that only if those requirements are met will progress towards a peaceful evolution from the present authoritarian, theocratic regime in Tehran towards democracy and modernization be possible. It must also be stressed that in putting a sound and efficient policy towards Iran into effect the European Union's role will be indispensable.
Let us discuss these statements in more detail. First, we have to acknowledge that Iran has genuine concerns about its security and that these are unrelated to its present regime's authoritarian and theocratic nature, so much so that the vast majority of Iranians support the nuclear program and consider the pressures on Iran to renounce its nuclear rights as a signatory State of the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to be illegal. Among the challenges to Iran's security we can mention in particular the historical experience of two invasions (in 1941 by Great Britain and the USSR, and in 1980 by Iraq), and of the coup d'état contrived by Churchill and the CIA in 1953 which put an end to the democratic regime of Mossadeq, who advocated nationalizing the oil industry, and returned Reza Pahlavi to the throne. In addition, we must be aware of the chronic instability in the Middle East region, whose central problems are the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the overwhelming military might (both conventional and nuclear) of the Israeli State, the US policy aiming at the control of the oil resources in the Middle East and, in this context, pursuing a changeover of non-friendly regimes by force, as happened in Iraq; and the fact that, looking ahead to the eventual depletion of its oil fields, the matter of establishing alternative energy resources - among which nuclear power occupies a central place - is of vital importance.
For the reasons mentioned above, the nuclear military option is a fallacious response to such challenges, yet in the absence of a convincing alternative it seems destined to prevail. Such an alternative will only be possible if Iran's renunciation of the military aspects of its nuclear program (with all possible checks) forms part of a comprehensive regional security agreement, which must include sound guarantees with respect both to Israel's overwhelming power, and to America's policy of changing - by force if necessary - any regime it regards as unfriendly. The agreement should also mark the beginning of a general process of stabilization in the Middle East region. In short, a Conference for the Security and Cooperation in the Middle East should be convened, on the model of the European CSCE, in which a regional system of confidence-building that includes Iran would be agreed, together with a credible control and progressive reduction of armaments, resumption of the dialogue concerning a Middle East Nuclear Weapons Free Zone, and promoting cooperation in economic and technological fields and on human rights.
Such a framework would establish the conditions for pursuing a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict along the lines of the agreement signed in Geneva on December 1st, 2003, by Israeli and Palestinian delegations headed respectively by Yossi Beilin and Yasser Abed Rabbo; and also for the stabilization of Iraq by replacing imperial American management by multilateral management, implying a decisive role for the UN. Progress in those two fields will, in turn, be a decisive factor in strengthening the regional agreement on security.
Besides the security guarantees provided by the Conference for the Security and Cooperation in the Middle East, compensation for Iran's renunciation of military nuclear capability should consist of action to meet the needs of its economic development. To this end, the following is to be considered: economic and technological cooperation between the countries participating in the regional security agreement, which should eventually be translated into forms of a genuine economic regional integration; Iran's entry in the WTO; an end to the US sanctions enacted by the ILSA (the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act, approved by the US Congress in 1996 and renewed in 2001 for another five years); and a comprehensive trading agreement with the European Union.
This said, an essential precondition for putting such a policy in place concerns the NPT. That treaty not only guarantees the non-nuclear-weapon signatory countries "the inalienable right ... to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination", but also the commitment by the nuclear powers "to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a Treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control".
The significance of this commitment lies in the need to overcome the permanent discrimination between countries possessing nuclear weapons and those which do not. To be lawful, the demand that Iran should renounce nuclear weapons, together with the policy of non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in general must therefore be accompanied by real progress towards fulfilling that commitment. This means that the Baruch Plan on the elimination of nuclear weapons should be re-launched and updated. It should, among other things, cover weapons of mass destruction of all kinds, and should also include countries outside the NPT such as India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea which withdrew in 2003. It requires a decisive strengthening of the UN too.
We certainly have to acknowledge that the actions listed above for impeding Iran's nuclear program are difficult to put into practice. Not only is there a need to overcome opposition from the authoritarian, nationalist, obscurantist tendencies that thrive in the Middle East's instability and backwardness. There is also another significant obstacle in the American inclination to deal with world problems with an hegemonic, imperial attitude based on systematic unilateralism, on pre-emptive wars and unrestrained free-market ideology, for all of which the doctrine of spreading democracy acts as an ideological mask. On the other hand, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, world poverty, transnational terrorism, serious instability in entire regions of the world - not to mention the need to govern economic globalization and ecological issues - are fundamental challenges which affect all our planet's varied peoples and their political classes. This fact alone underlines the necessity of formulating a policy aimed at creating a more equitable and peaceful world whose pillars should be stronger international organizations with policies aimed at integration and regional stabilization.
In this context, our vital interest lies in achieving the stabilization of the Middle East and for obvious reasons the EU therefore is expected to play a role of primary importance. Solana's document A safe Europe in a better world shows how the EU, having launched an historical process of supranational pacification, now has a duty to initiate a process aimed at global pacification.
While, with specific regard to the Middle East, initiatives such as the Barcelona process and the EU-3 (France, Great Britain and Germany) trying to persuade Iran to renounce military nuclear power are already underway, the question remains of how to increase the coherence and efficiency of the European Union's actions. Its policy towards Tehran, for example, should be part of a comprehensive project of regional stabilization of the kind outlined above. A clear and resolute proposal should therefore be made to this effect. It must be emphasized that unless the pressures on Tehran are contained within a framework of talks proposing a regional security agreement as a convincing alternative to Iran's nuclear arms program, they could unwittingly be instrumental in leading to an American-Israeli policy of launching a pre-emptive attack against Iranian installations, in the same way as the weakness of Europe's position on Iraq contributed to America's war against Saddam.
To arrive at establishing a Conference for the Security and Cooperation in the Middle East it is not sufficient that the EU proposes it, although the mere fact of launching such an initiative would have a significant impact. The EU must also be able to convince the main political actors in the Middle East, and above all the United States, which implies that it must be capable of acting on the international plane: in short, of giving birth to a real USA-EU partnership as an indispensable means of overcoming American hegemonic and imperial attitudes. Such a policy is however hampered by the EU's present institutional system, characterized by national rights of veto in the fields of foreign policy, security and defense, and by meager financial resources. Therefore, the vital necessity of a sound European policy towards Iran, and generally in the Middle East, is one of the main reasons for calling urgently for the full federalization of the European Union.

Torture and Legal Reform in China

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    René Wadlow

South America - the Hard Choice between Bush and Isolation

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    Fernando A. Iglesias

Argentina and Chile Create a Peace-Keeping Force

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Capitalism and a Justly Governed World

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    Gilbert Jonas

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    Member of WFM Council

One of the biggest mistakes made by the industrialized world since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 is that, because communism self-destructed, it follows that capitalism was the victor. Setting aside the checkered history of capitalism prior to 1991, it seems that only the visually impaired could overlook capitalism's grim record over the past fifteen years.
For example, the same year that the Soviet system was torn asunder, the American stock market crashed over the bursting of the dotcom bubble, during which trillions of dollars were lost by shareholders and workers' pensions, producing a painful recession. Economic growth in the bastions of capitalism - Japan, Western Europe and the United States - has been at best anemic. Under terminal siege were the social programs of the Western world - especially health and retirement support - because the contemporary capitalist systems were proving incapable of supporting the social commitments made by employers, including governments, to workers.
In the United States corporate scandals surfaced in unprecedented numbers and scale, involving the theft or misappropriation of tens of billions of dollars, while corporate CEOs and their inner circles fraudulently enriched themselves through stock options based upon criminal manipulations of their profit margins and financial statements. According to a New York Times editorial (1/1/05), the ratio of corporate CEO compensation to that of American workers soared to 431 to 1 in 2004. In these massive acts of piracy, corporate leaders were guided by the largest accounting firms, most major banks and brokerage houses and the most prestigious law firms in the nation. Their acts were "justified" by some of the nation's most prominent academics and members of Congress, while regulatory agencies were packed by the Reagan and the two Bush administrations with agents of the very industries they were supposed to be regulating.
Meanwhile, the average annual pay and the standard of living of the vast majority of Americans has declined since 1991, while a tiny minority - less than one-tenth of one percent - have added billions to their net worth, partly through tax cuts heavily targeted for the mega-rich. The official number of Americans living below the poverty line (that is, prior to Katrina) has grown, as has the number of Americans without health insurance. The corporate scandals have now morphed into lobbying scandals which will implicate scores of Senators and Congresspersons, their staffs and officials of the Bush Administration.
If these facts were not sufficient to verify the dysfunctionality of capitalism as we know it today, one need only briefly review how "victorious capitalism" has played out in American foreign policy since the Soviet collapse. The administration of Jimmy Carter (1977-1981) undertook a brave attempt to focus foreign policy on human rights issues, under the perseverant direction of Assistant Secretary of State Pat Derian. That focus was peremptorily abandoned by Reagan's minions, who instead sought to spend the Soviet Union to its demise and to impose new free market standards upon the world. However, until the United States became the sole superpower in 1991, that initiative was only partially successful. It remained for the two Bush presidencies, and a not insubstantial boost from the centrist Clinton presidency during which the Republicans gained control of Congress, to carry the objective to its fullest extent.
By controlling the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the regional international funds, the United States had sold the rest of the world, but most importantly, many developing nations, two debatable propositions. The first was that every time a developing nation fails to meet its loan obligations to public and private lenders, it must as promptly as possible repay the lenders the full amount with interest, in order to retain its "credibility" with international capital markers. That principle was aggressively enforced, despite the fact that in most cases it meant imposing enormous hardship and grinding poverty on the majority of the citizens of the borrowing governments. It was also imposed despite the destabilizing effect such policies had upon nascent democracies and allies. While a few ideologues within both Bush Administrations and some Wall Street big wigs guiding the Clinton economic policies may well have believed philosophically in such drastic measures, the principal motivation was to ensure that American and other Western banks were not strapped with heavy losses. In short, the State Department for most of the past two decades served as a collection agency for the big lending institutions. Rarely, if ever, has anyone suggested that part of the responsibility for making bad loans fell upon the banking officials themselves for taking reckless risks. Nobody asked who was responsible for due diligence in approving huge loans to countries like Bolivia, Argentina and Peru.
The second, and equally devastating, policy was the aggressive pursuit of so-called free markets, which in practice meant the opening of Third World markets to American manufactured goods and services, while stonewalling the reciprocal removal of huge subsidies and even tariffs for American agricultural products. A few years ago George W. Bush and the US Congress approved a sum of $21 billion in agricultural subsidies for cotton, sugar, soy beans, and wheat and other crops, most of which were in direct competition with small farmers in developing countries. The consequences were tragic: over the past decade American subsidized farm products (and the even more heavily subsidized European agriculture) have wiped out hundreds of thousands of small farmers in Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America, greatly contributing to the massive poverty of the nations of those regions. Both the United States and the European Union have stonewalled real reform while making the usual pleasant sounds that they have learned from civil society. They will stonewall for as long as they can get away with it for that is the mantra of capitalism - hang on to your own profits at the expense of every one else.
For a variety of complicated reasons, however, the seemingly limitless power of the United States has begun to diminish over the past few years (and the gross incompetence and cruelty of the Bush response to the victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita have hastened this decline.) The world has watched the US lose much of its moral authority by opting out of vitally important treaty obligations (including the Geneva Conventions and the nuclear reduction agreement with Russia), by repudiating its signature on the treaty establishing the International Criminal Court and strong-arming dozens of small nations to accept bilateral agreements which would void the ICC's jurisdiction over American soldiers and civilians, by espousing the notion of preventive war, and by invading a nation (Iraq) which posed no concrete threat to the US and then failing horribly to impose a peaceful occupation.
The rebellion began in Argentina when a newly-elected president with Peronista influences refused to strip his nation and his people of their limited material wealth in order to pay back the loans provided (imprudently) to previous regimes by world and American lending institutions. The rest of Latin America watched in awe and observed that the sky had not fallen on either Argentina or its left-leaning president, Nestor Kirchner, when four years ago he defaulted on over $100 billion in foreign debt. Quickly the lenders comprehended his resolve and restructured the debt. Last month Kirchner made a $9.8 billion payment to the IMF, which seems have settled Argentinean accounts with the global institution. It has no plans to involve itself further with the American-dominated IMF.
Then the demagogic elected president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, found his voice and it was both anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist. He became a public ward of Fidel Castro to the open consternation of Bush and Cheney. Secret American efforts, including financing, to topple Chavez through elections failed by sizable margins. After all, to a majority of Venezuelans, Chavez' major "crime" is that he is using the nation's oil profits to raise the living standards of the nation's poorer classes which the wealthier classes believe to be at their own expense.
Next came the resounding presidential victory of an acknowledged socialist and labor leader, Brazil's Luis Iñacio Lula da Silva, who has decided to repay only a small portion of the hundreds of billions of foreign loans to Brazil. He has made it clear that Brazil will not repay these vast loans on the backs of its poor, as had been the earlier practice of Third World debtors. Meanwhile, Brazil's GNP has grown consistently since Lula's inauguration and there appears to be a seed of unity developing among Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. (Can Chile be far behind?)
Next, after considerable global pressure, the G-8 members have agreed to forgive the debts of the world's forty poorest nation, not particularly welcomed by the Secretary of State Rice or the Oval Office.
The most leftward political change took place in Bolivia in mid-December, when Evo Morales, a socialist and native Indian, decisively won the presidency of that incredibly poor nation. He was the first Indian president (the Bolivian majority is Indian) and the first person to win the presidency by an absolute majority. His principal objectives have been to reclaim control of the nation's sizable natural gas resources in order to negotiate a larger share of the income for his people and to reverse the US-imposed program to halt the growth of the coca leaf, on which most Bolivians are dependent as a mild stimulant. Washington seeks to wipe out coca production because it is the primary base for the drug cocaine, offering no equivalent alternative to coca growing.
As the United States holds it nose over the leftward swing in Latin America, its involvement on that continent is becoming a victim of inertia. The vacuum created by this posture is quickly being filled by China and Russia, as well as the European Union, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan. Pro-capitalist as each of these Statist economies claim to be, they are not about to lose major economic opportunities, now that the United States' global power has begun to diminish. It should be self-evident to even a college economics major that most of the industrialized nations have reached their present economic development either through a mixture of socialist and capitalist policies or through Statism, in which the government played the major role in economic decision-making and financial subsidization. The developing nations have been increasingly aware of those lessons and will increasingly choose the welfare of their people over any externally-imposed ideology, capitalist or otherwise.
Since its inception, the American world federalist movement has been dominated by those who have strong reservations about socialist or populist economic philosophies. The majority have long preferred a limited form of world federation which would eliminate war but which would involve itself minimally in global economic affairs. That has no resonance today any where else. The vast majority of the human race desperately require the active investment of the industrialized world, either on the way towards federation or as part of a federalist package. Failure to accept the active developmental participation of government, nationally or globally, would doom the billions who endure poverty every day. It would also make the participation of the developing nations far less likely in any proposed world federal government.

Argentina Chooses the Euro

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The Strengthening of Mercosur thanks to Venezuela?

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UEF/WFM Joint Seminar

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Joint Statement of the UEF Federal Committee and WFM Council

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Europe Starts out again from Genoa

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    Nicola Vallinoto

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    Vice-Secretary-General of UEF Italy

After being the host city of the UEF Congress in 2004, Genoa becomes again a European capital: the 3rd and 4th December 2005, more than four hundred participants, coming from various countries of the EU, and representing about a hundred of organisations, local movements and municipalities, have given life to the first Convention of the European citizens, with the objective to relaunch the constituent process after the French and Dutch NOs in the referendum on the European Constitution. The initiative, the first of its kind in Europe, has tried to fill up the total vacuum of the so-called "reflection period" decided by the national Governments. The Convention, promoted by the UEF, the Italian MFE, the JEF, and the Federalist Intergroups for the European Constitution in the Italian and European Parliament, is the first step of a program for mobilising the European citizens to relaunch the constituent process from the bottom up. The aim of the Convention is to create a permanent dialogue on the future of Europe among the citizens of the entire continent and the institutions that represent them, starting from the European Parliament and the national Parliaments.
The working sessions of the forum have been subdivided in five parts. The opening session has been introduced by the Secretary of the Federalist Intergroup for the European Constitution in the European Parliament, Bruno Boissiére, and chaired by the President of the UEF, Mercedes Bresso, with the contribution of twenty speakers of different national organizations, international networks and representatives of local municipalities. In the afternoon session, three thematic working groups have addressed the main arguments of today's crisis of the political integration process: Europe's responsibilities in the world, the economic-social model for globalization and a sustainable development, an active citizenship and a participative democracy.
In the Sunday morning's final session, the Convention has adopted a Manifesto, with some concrete proposals for an effective relaunch of the European Constitution. Guido Montani, President of the MFE, presented the Manifesto to the Italian and European MPs of different political groups, that participated in the Convention, in order for them to become the spokesmen in their respective assemblies.
The great participation to the Convention's working sessions has a clear political meaning: the European citizens want to participate in the constituent process, asserting their will to proceed to the federal integration of the European continent, despite the block opposed by the national States governments. Another world is possible. Another Europe is possible. The Convention of the European citizens will not disband until its aims will be fulfilled. Genoa is, in fact, the first of its kind in the Old Continent: in 2006, more meetings will take place in Wien in spring and in Paris in autumn. More information on the programme and the contributions can be retrieved from http://www.citizensconvention.net.

European Manifesto of the European Citizens' Convention in Genoa

  • Federalist Action

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Appeal to the European Parliament, the European Council and the National Parliaments

  • Federalist Action

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The Divided West

  • Book Reviews

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  • Autore

    Ernesto Gallo

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