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EU agriculture threatened by looming CETA trade deal

The EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) puts EU agriculture and the environment, as well as democratic institutions, at risk.

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Editor’s note: The following article is published verbatim from France’s Pardem (Parti de la démondialisation) and concerns the pending EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic Trade AGreement (CETA), currently in the works between the European Union and Canada. While the article references France, the concerns it raises are also of direct relevance to Greece and to Greek farming, agriculture, and Greece’s environment.
As stated in the article which follows, it only takes one EU member-state to veto this agreement. Will Cyprus or Greece — where Monsanto’s RoundUp was just licensed by the SYRIZA-led “radical leftist” government — be the countries to stand up to this trade deal? One would think not.


French MPs and Senators will have to vote for or against the CETA (Treaty between Canada and the European Union) during the second half of 2018.
Let’s rise up so that MPs and Senators vote NO TO THE CETA – a free-trade agreement between Canada and the European Union
Only one EU Member-State is needed to vote against to make null and void this treaty which is extremely harmful to our agricultures and cattle-raising farms, for our populations health, for our jobs, for the environment in terms of greenhouse gases production, for democracy.
French agriculture endangered and increased risks for everyone’s health
The CETA is an international agreement that heavily threatens French peasants and presents very real risks for the quality of our food and our food sovereignty.
A study made by the Institut de l’Elevage (Institute for Cattle Raising) and INTERBEV (Interprofessional Union for Cattle and Meat) shows that an increase of 200,000 tons/year of zero-rated imports of Northern American beef meat to Europe would have severe consequences. Such increase would generate a 40% to 50% reduction of income for the French beef farmers, and a loss of 50,000 jobs in the related sector (30,000 farming jobs and 20,000 jobs among the downstream industry for stakeholders such as slaughterhouses, butcheries, etc). At the same time, this destruction of jobs and added value would cause a decline in pastures and grasslands benefiting field crops which would release tons of greenhouse gas. With the increase of 50,000 tons for the Canadian quota, the CETA impact only would be a little less brutal, but enough to send the beef industry into an even more serious crisis.
The CETA increases also the import quota of Canadian pork considerably, as it is now without any Customs duties. From about 6,000 tons/year (in carcass weight) charged between EUR 0.233/kg to EUR 0.434/kg, the quota would gradually reach 81,000 tons/year… with a zero-rated tariff. Like for beef meat, Canada does not use its full export quota – it exported « only 2,328 tons » of pork to the EU in 2014 – because of the European prohibition of ractopamine, a non hormonal growth additive largely used for more than 20 years in Canada. But even if that prohibition (a « non tariff » barrier) resisted the future regulation, the new quota could be enough to encourage a production of « ractopamine-free pork » for the EU market. The production cost of « ractopamine-free pork » by Canadian cattle farms is about EUR 0.35/kg inferior to the average production cost within the EU : the sole creation of a zero-rated tariff quota within the CETA would make Canadian pork competitive on the European market. Canada is the third pork exporter in the world in 2013 (behind the US and the EU) and already exports almost half of its production : it has the commercial infrastructure to conquer this new market, to the detriment of European pork farmers, in particular French pork farmers. And like for beef meat, getting that quota will set a dangerous precedent which American negotiators could use now for the TAFTA (Trans Atlantic Free Trade Agreement).
It will be much more profitable for industrials who claim they export French know-how, to establish themselves in Canada (which they manage to do nowadays but with difficulties) and to collect the milk produced by Canadian peasants, in order to feed it into the « French » production lines (yogurt, cheese, etc.)
Such strategy is not new : firms like Lactalis, Bel and Danone are already well established abroad and they produce French branded products locally. The agreement on dairy products will benefit the agri-business – all the more so as Chapter 8 that defines protection conditions for foreign investments, is particularly favorable to it – but not European and Canadian dairy farmers who are played off to the benefit of a concentration and an industrialization of production.
Detrimental consequences on employment
In general, opening borders results in increased unemployment for the workers employed in competing sectors. These workers do not manage to retrain as their skills become obsolete. Unskilled workers in rich countries, in competition with emerging countries labor force, see their employability decrease, which compels them to accept lower wages or poorer working conditions. Such opening of borders also allows the wealthiest individuals and big corporations to evade taxation thanks to fiscal optimization.
The CETA degrades climate and increases greenhouse gas emissions (GHG)
The expert committee – called for and implemented by Emmanuel Macron – has just recognized that « climate is the great absentee from the treaty ». It asserts that the CETA impact on climate will be negative as far as greenhouse gas emissions are concerned.
The CETA remains a classical free trade and investment agreement. It translates the refusal by its promoters (the European Union and Canada) to adapt it to the great global challenge of this early 21st century that is climate warming.
Neither the preamble or the CETA chapters do mention the climate emergency explicitly. Neither can be found herein goals to reduce GHG emissions, or general objectives aiming to « decarbonize » the economy. It does not mention the commitments from the EU and Canada taken during international negotiations on climate warming.
Even worse, according to the European Commission « sustainability » impact study published in June 2011, the CETA effect on greenhouse gas emissions is very real. As a matter of fact, the CETA shall result in an increase in European investments in oil extracted from oil sands (1), which emits greenhouse gas three times more than conventional oil production, as well as in big oil infrastructure projects which should allow to export that very same oil.
Despising democracy
The CETA has been provisionally applied while the citizenry or the national Parliament have not been consulted, even though the majority of French MEPs has voted against it – which constitutes a serious denial of democracy. The democratic process is also threatened by two new mechanisms set up by the CETA. On one hand, arbitration courts – which are a privatized justice questioning the States lawmaking abilities, and therefore questioning democracy (and to sentence States to pay huge indemnities to multinational firms). On the other hand, the various harmonization processes for standards, which will allow Canadian and European administrations in charge of trade, to influence health, industrial and environmental standards upstream the lawmaking process. Such tools will be available for big corporations to further their interests and influence elected officials at the local, national and European levels.
The hegemony of commercial law is therefore a front assault against the peoples’ ability to choose to live in more sovereign, more solidary, more human and fairer societies.
Notes :
(1) The petrol extracted from oil sands is one of the dirtiest in the world. The extraction process is complicated and most polluting. During such process, methane, whose greenhouse effect is at least 20 times more powerful than CO2, and sulphur dioxide, responsible for lake and forest acidification, are released into air. The outcome is that extracting one oil barrel from the Alberta oil sands, produces at least three times more greenhouse gas than a conventional oil production process.

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Germany Returning Migrants to Greece

Germany’s policy contradicts claims that the migrants are “war refugees,” because if that were the case, they’d seek asylum at the nearest, non-wartorn country.

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Via Infowars Europe:


Germany will soon send back migrants to Greece if they had already applied for asylum there.

The two countries made the deal at the behest of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose coalition government is on shaky ground due to increased opposition to her immigration policies.

“EU law states that refugees should apply for asylum in the first EU country they reach, but Germany has typically allowed newcomers with open applications elsewhere to reside in the country as it examines their claim,” reported the Wall Street Journal. “In practice, very few ever leave Germany, even if they fail to obtain asylum there.”

Germany’s policy contradicts claims that the migrants are “war refugees,” because if that were the case, they’d seek asylum at the nearest, non-wartorn country.

In fact, many of the migrants travel across multiple European countries, including Greece, to seek asylum in Germany, which under Merkel has offered comprehensive welfare to migrants.

Merkel’s recent immigration backtrack was also likely influenced by the backlash against open borders in neighboring countries, particularly Austria.

Austria has ramped up deportations under recently-appointed Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.

“I’m convinced that the solution to the migrant problem lies with decent border protection and stronger help in countries of origin,” he said earlier this year.

Poland, Hungary and other Eastern European countries have similarly sealed off their borders to the chagrin of the EU, which had previous demanded “migrant quotas” for each member nation.

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The Greek Disaster: State Inertia and the Market Economy

In Greece we witnessed this repulsive, internally-generated tragedy in all its horrifying glory. Unfortunately we may soon see more far-reaching consequences…

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What happened in Attica, Greece, close to Athens, is without precedent. An ordinary fire, like the ones that occur in this area almost every other summer, met up with a terrible, sudden wind that turned it into real galloping inferno.

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The tragic result was 87 dead Greek citizens and more than 20 still missing. Huge questions loom on the horizon and only very limited answers are forthcoming. Are some of the lessons from this tragedy related to the wider geopolitical and political-economic questions?

Public-sector clientelism is leading to disastrous inefficiency

Why do tragedies like these occur in social environments with firmly entrenched clientelist political systems and in political entities that operate on the periphery of major, bureaucratic, modern empires? Sweden saw huge uncontrolled fires this summer. However, there was no loss of life or major disasters that befell the urban centers.

In Portugal last year — and very recently in Greece  —  scores of people died, mainly due to the inability of the state machinery to efficiently deal with the problem. The major difference between these examples is the quality of the civil service. In Greece and Portugal there is no real ethics in the public administration, which frequently fails to meet any vigorous efficiency test .

In public bureaucracies that sprout favoritism the way trees grow branches, it is very difficult to design long-term plans to handle critical and life-threatening situations. Likewise, the political system lacks the prerequisites to draw upon informed societies that are trained to be cooperative and disciplined when there is a need for coordination.

When clientelism dictates and forms the essence of the political culture, this culminates in fractured societies that are infected with spreading islands of lawlessness and limited possibilities for administrative coherence.

In Greece in particular, the deep-rooted mentality of state favoritism produces whole sectors of uncoordinated urbanization, with no respect for the environment, chaotic borough formation, and a coastline that has been brutally violated by hasty real-estate developmental schemes.

In such a social context, thorough planning becomes almost impossible and the idea of applying administrative guidelines to deal with a crisis sounds like a joke. It is essentially the political system itself that invites disasters and not any sort of physical deluge that begets them.

The need for market solutions

Clientelism and heavy state intervention in the running of the economy and society are the basic causes of inefficiency and, henceforth, administrative chaos. It appears that the process of rational choice is the fatal enemy of the dominant mentality in such systems of government. This is represented by any model that relies on the market to deal with questions of economic policy and societal organization.

A bloated public sector that is encouraged by the political authorities to constantly expand, irrespective of its ability to deliver on its promises, becomes the major problem. Instead of being the solution to emerging issues, the state actually becomes the cause of most troubles and difficulties.

Henceforth, without clear objectives or cost-benefit solutions, the state is unable to provide reliable outcomes or to cope with situations, especially emergencies. In the case of Greece in particular, the fire-fighting service had been financially starved, while its personnel had been recruiting new staff based on specific social criteria!

In other words, firefighters entrusted with saving people from emergency situations were hired on the basis of their physical inability to deal with normal life situations, i.e., the physically handicapped, mentally unfit, generally unhealthy, or recruits who were simply from disadvantaged social backgrounds.

Relying on a market mentality means that choices are made based on measurable results, well structured plans to deal with crises, and thoroughly tested options. When none of these requirements are met, it is more than certain that achievements will be negligible and the consequences disastrous.

Hence one must assume that societies that do not rely on rational-choice procedures and which pursue policies of heavy state intervention and patron-client favoritism are not likely to see successful results. This essentially means that societies built on capitalist principles pursue measurable results that further the welfare of their citizens.

Geopolitical repercussions

There is also a geopolitical angle to these observations. If a country cannot keep up with globally established administrative and financial trends, it will end up facing dead-end situations and find itself being marginalized. With the exception of its reliance on heavy state taxation, the EU always pursues policies of open social frontiers and market economics. Countries that deviate from this logic find themselves gradually lost in a political wilderness.

They constantly creep along on the fringes of events and absent themselves from all contemporary processes. By acting as the exception instead of the rule, they will rapidly find themselves marginalized. They will become a stark anomaly and thus be excluded from every movement going forward. They will become the pariahs of the international system. Geopolitical events will pass them by, and they will be looked upon as the “black holes” of the international order.

Domestic events and major financial and/or economic choices cannot be limited any longer to national or regional occurrences. Notwithstanding the importance of events within a country, opting for heavy state intervention may lead a country into the international wilderness.

What’s more, its international standing may also be impaired, contributing to the nation’s overall marginalization.

In Greece we witnessed this repulsive, internally-generated tragedy in all its horrifying glory. Unfortunately we may soon see more far-reaching consequences…

Via Strategic Culture

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Greek-Russian relations at a crossroads

The political landscape of Greek-Russian relations has suddenly darkened.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras meet in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia on April 8, 2015.

What exactly is the matter? It is almost impossible to cull any accurate information enabling us to clarify the situation and shine a light on recent developments.

Let’s first sweep the picture clean of inaccurate assertions and unfounded claims. Commentators who almost always turn to the anti-Western narrative immediately took to the field. The Greek government, they claim, is trying to earn its credentials vis-à-vis NATO and the US.

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Although nobody has ever required such a demonstration of allegiance from Athens. Under the present circumstances Greece is not going to win any points with such behaviour. With the agreement at Prespa Lake and Athens yielding to FYROMacedonia’s membership in NATO, the Greek government has already earned what it could from like-minded Western European capitals.

A breakup with Russia would not have added anything to Athens’ pro-Western arsenal.

At a time when the US is blaming Germany for being friendly with Russia and other European states — namely Austria, Italy, and Hungary, among others — appear to be moving closer to Moscow, what would an anti-Russian gesture by Greece signify? How could Athens expect to capitalize on this? I cannot honestly discern any direct benefit for Greece.

Likewise, why would Washington pressure Athens to adapt such a hostile attitude? What would the Americans expect to earn at a time when the US president himself reiterates that in Vladimir Putin he sees a man he can fully understand … and make a deal with…

On the other hand, as far as bilateral relations are concerned, Athens’ relationship with Moscow has been seriously wounded — without any clear benefits for Greece. Putin has made it clear how he would react if faced with a repeated challenge: “If you squeeze a spring as far as it will go, it will snap back hard. You must always remember this”.

One should not overlook the fact that some months ago a meeting was called off between the Greek and Russian government ministries that had been aimed at fostering economic cooperation between the two countries. The reason given was the unexpected appearance at the meeting of some Crimean politicians — the Russians maintaining however that the Greek side had been forewarned and had not raised any objections at the time.

In the end the episode was brushed aside without any major repercussions, at least public ones. But it was an issue nevertheless…

At the last occurrence, culminating in the expulsion of Russian diplomats from Athens there is enough ambivalence as concerns the matter. The main issue being discussed is a possible Russian effort against the Prespa agreement, objecting in order to to nullify FYROM’s future membership in NATO. Two comments must be made here. Only Northern Macedonia can render the agreement invalid at this point, not Greece.

Even if the Greek parliament fails to ratify the agreement, the northern Macedonians will automatically become members of the Atlantic alliance. In order for that to happen the government in Skopje merely needs to satisfy the requirements set out by the Prespa agreement and stipulated by NATO. It is ridiculous to think that Russian diplomats are not fully aware of this situation. Why then, as some observers insinuate, should they try to nudge Greece into walking out of the agreement?

As for NATO, it is doubtful that the Russians do not recognize that the attitude of the US and of its president, who recently met with Russian officials and with President Putin himself in Helsinki, poses a greater threat to the cohesion of the alliance than the membership of tiny FYROM.

My opinion is that the various reports on the issue are making the matter seem much weightier than it really is. My assessment is that Moscow is much less concerned about it than is generally acknowledged.

There is, however, definitely an issue. Otherwise we would not have reached the point of repatriating diplomats. One should never overlook the fact that great powers are usually burdened by many decision-influencing centres. Sometimes they are working outside of the official process that the governments dictate. Russia can hardly be an exception. Often the tentacles of such decision-making centres reach the state machinery.

This has happened in Greece in the past, when a retired Air Force pilot attempted to bomb parts of Albania. We saw it again in the case of a fugitive from Turkey, the Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan. In the US it is very often the case that various agencies take initiatives without the knowledge of the central government authorities.

With Russia, the issue of Orthodox Christian belief is quite important. Adherence to those principles can potentially prompt actions and moves without the knowledge or approval of a central authority. Unfortunately, I am not privy to specific information, but I believe that my ideas make logical sense.

Why should the Kremlin jeopardise a carefully cultivated cordial relationship with Athens just to pursue a dead-end policy on the issue of Skopje? After all, that’s an issue of paramount importance to Greece. And it could not possibly produce any fruitful results.

There are people in northern Greece who have often involved themselves in issues of vital importance to Greece without the slightest official authorisation or coordination with the aims of the Greek state. Some of them refer to Russia as a sister Orthodox power, without having been entrusted with such authority.

On the other hand, one should not overlook the fact that Greece carries a grudge against the Kremlin for having embraced Turkey in recent months, supplying it with missiles and accepting its friendly overtures on the Syrian front, although aware of its diverse inclinations concerning the future of that region.

It is not impossible that such sentiments may have culminated in and led to the recent crisis between the two states.

Notwithstanding the above, there is a wider issue contributing to the current misunderstandings. Russia has always been a puzzle for anyone attempting to do business with her. They find it difficult to comprehend her reactions and behaviour. Almost all are reminded of Winston Churchill’s words describing Russia: “It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma“. What few people remember is the rest of Churchill’s phrase: “But perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest“.

Some years later he explained: “I am convinced that there is nothing they [the Russians] admire so much as strength, and there is nothing for which they have less respect than for weakness”.

No country can expect a positive appraisal if it does nothing but beg and offers little or no policy coordination. These words might adequately explain Russia’s attitude towards other countries and its posture towards various global affairs.

Via Strategic Culture

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