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Politics

by Francis Wurtz

Lisbon Strategy, Climate, CAP... a full agenda!

Translated Sunday 12 July 2009, by Steve McGiffen and reviewed by Henry Crapo

We must not, now that the elections are behind us, allow the progressive forces and social actors to let the attention that they have paid during the last few months stray from the major issues at stake in European politics now and in the immediate future. Plans heavy with consequences are, indeed, under way or on the way. It will be a matter of putting ourselves – and keeping ourselves - in a position to intervene, with full knowledge of the facts.

Here is shorthand list of some of the ’dossiers’ which we will have to follow closely. First of all is the future of the ’Lisbon Strategy’. This is the name given by the 27 to the ’roadmap’ which the member states of the European Union drew up in 2000, and which they revised in 2005. It is supposed to make the Union, by 2010, a model in matters social, environmental and economic. In their inimitable style, the officials of the Brussels Commission have adopted, in substance, the following reasoning: none of the objectives which we set ourselves has been attained. All the more reason to pursue our strategy and even to push it further... This debate over post-2010 must not therefore remain confined within the narrow limits set by the European authorities! There is a place for a public evaluation of this much talked-about ’Lisbon Strategy’, one which in concrete terms must involve trade unions, NGOs, elected local and regional politicians, and experts. In fact, it is the whole range of existing European policies, as well as the possible alternatives and the resources which they would require, which merit a place in this discussion.

Another subject of some importance: climate change. In six months (the 7th and 8th December), the global conference will take place in Copenhagen. This will be a decisive moment for judging the credibility of the international mobilisation for a drastic reduction in greenhouse gases. All of the world’s major states, those most directly responsible for the situation, will have decided their precise commitments with regard to a follow-up to the Kyoto Protocol, of which the first period ends in 2012, for which read tomorrow. The European Union’s attitude to this conference will carry weight with its partners. And yet, if it fixes for itself objectives which represent a move in the right direction, their actualisation, in terms of concrete and restrictive commitments, will certainly raise questions. Once again this is something which should be brought into the public domain, not in general or generic terms, but entering into all of the disturbing details.

Also foreseen, between now and 2013, is a process of thoroughgoing reform – one which will be debated from scratch - of the European budget. First policy to come under scrutiny: the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy). The European response to the current dispute with dairy producers gives some idea of the positions taken by market liberals of every stripe with regard to the subject of the specificity of a policy on which depends the population’s supply of food and the sustainable development of the territory of the member states. "We are in a free market economy, where the law of supply and demand prevails, and you can’t get past that," as the Czech Agriculture Minister has just told producers’ organisations, on behalf of the EU presidency! Well worth listening to....

Other subjects of a highly structural nature will leave their mark on the European political agenda in the coming period. So, there is renewed talk of the relaunch of negotiations at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) which collapsed in failure a year ago. The EU wants to push for a commitment to a new wave of liberalisation of global trade from now until 2010. In addition, during the recent election campaign, we revealed tentative European attempts to achieve a ’unified transatlantic market between now and 2015’. A particular vigilance is demanded with regard to this.

Lastly, in relation to international politics, the essential issue at stake remains the Palestinian question. Careful we don’t get accustomed to the unacceptable! It is going to be a case once again of having to ’re-demonstrate’! These are the many challenges which we will be facing in the next few weeks.


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