Glaringly false reassurances about the repercussions of the EU-US free trade agreement

European Parliament. Committee on International Trade meeting. Discussion with Kare De Gucht European Commissioner, responsible for international trade (first from right) and Pawel Zalewski (EPP, PL). (EP Audiovisual Services, 07/11/2013).

European Parliament. Committee on International Trade meeting. Discussion with Kare De Gucht European Commissioner, responsible for international trade (first from right) and Pawel Zalewski (EPP, PL). (EP Audiovisual Services, 07/11/2013).

Yesterday, Karel De Gucht, the EU Trade Commissioner delivered a speech in Düsseldorf, to reassure his German audience that the EU-US negotiations to conclude a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (Free Trade Agreement), will not lead to abandonment of EU health rules that ban genetically modified food and beef with hormones nor will it give the banks a free hand to speculate with people’s savings. He answered those concerns as it follows: “That would indeed be unacceptable. But here I stand, and cannot but say: The EU is not going to do any of these things as a result of TTIP”.

The Belgian Commissioner though, intentionally ‘forgot’ to tell his audience that only some weeks ago, on 13 December 2013 The General Court of the European Union has annulled the Commission’s decisions, concerning authorisation to place the genetically modified potato Amflora on the market. It’s  out of the question that he was not aware of the case. De Gucht also ‘forgot’ to mention that it was a German company, BASF Plant Science GmbH, which had asked the Swedish authorities, through a subsidiary, to authorise the placing of this genetically modified potato Amflora on the market, with a view to its cultivation and use for industrial purposes. The case was finally brought to the European judges, who decided that “the Commission significantly failed to fulfil its procedural obligations, so the General Court has annulled the contested decisions”.

The Commission can and does fail

It’s more than evident that the Commission, in this case, hasn’t applied to the letter the relevant procedures, foreseen in relation to the cultivation and the marketing of GMOS. Furthermore, the case of the Amphora potato is not an isolated incident though. In the case of the ‘Pioneer 1507’ maize seed, imports have already been freed for human and animal feed uses, but the cultivation of it is always prohibited. This is what the Commission wanted to change – to release the possibility of this genetically modified maize cultivation on European soil. This time it’s the giant American company Monsanto, a world leader in GMOs, which has been trying for years to introduce its ‘Pioneer 1507’ maize seeds for cultivation in Europe.
On this occasion (7 November 2013) the European Sting writer Suzan A. Kane stressed that, “Apart from the environmental and health issues around this affair, the basic economic characteristic of all genetically modified seeds for sowing is that farmers cannot keep a part of the crop to use it next year as seeds for sowing… Consequently, farmers would have to keep buying their seeds for sowing year after year from this US firm Monsanto. In the long-term all production will depend on Monsanto”.

What about the banks?

Now let’s pass to the next reassurance De Gucht gave to the German attendees of his speech, that the Commission wouldn’t “give the banks a free hand to speculate with people’s savings”. Of course banks and financial markets do not come within his responsibilities. So he could be forgiven for not knowing what every citizen in Europe knows, while making promises. However, he could have asked his colleague Michel Barnier, but it’s more than certain that such issues are being discussed in the College of Commissioners in great depth. Consequently, De Gucht cannot be forgiven.

The truth is that not only the American banks are free to usurp the deposits of their customers and use them for their risky bets (proprietary trading), but their European counterparts are excelling in that. EU banks have accumulated ‘assets’ 3.5 times the European GDP, while their American peers’ balance sheet is only 1.8 times the US GDP. If the EU banks are to reduce their exposure to US levels they have to shed ‘assets’ of €22.1 trillion, given that today their assets are €42.9 trillion. Of course the core issue is that those bank ‘assets’ contain super risky bets financed by other people’s money. In short, the EU banks are much worse students of prudency, than their American counterparts. As a result, the reassurances given by De Gucht that the Commission will protect depositors from the insatiable appetite of the banks, lacks any substance to say the least.

The Belgian Commissioner said a lot more about the EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. However, his basic affirmations that the European citizens, after the application of the TTIP will not run the danger of eating more GMOs and beef with hormones or being usurped by banks, could be even taken as a joke, if not as straightforward deceipt. European citizens are already eating lots of GMOs. Who is that stupid to believe that after applying this TTIP with the Americans, including the powerful giant Mosanto, less GMOs will be circulating in the EU? The same is true for the beef with hormones and the protection from the banking vultures.

 

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