Is the EU Preparing for Another Stealth Coup?

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Taking its anti-democratic approach to a whole new level.

By Don Quijones, Spain & Mexico, editor at WOLF STREET.

After years of tireless scheming behind hermetically closed doors, the time is almost due for the European Commission to give the respective national parliaments of the EU’s 28 Member States a chance to vote on the proposed trade agreement with Canada, the so-called Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). At long last, a secret agreement that received absolutely no input from the general public and a heck of a lot of input from the world’s biggest corporations and their lobbyists will be presented to and voted on by Europe’s elected representatives.

Or at that was the plan.

Ever since it began negotiating trade agreements like CETA, TTIP and TiSA, the Commission has repeatedly promised that when the proposed agreements were ready, it would let democracy take its course. But democracy and the latest generation of hyper-covert trade agreements are far from comfortable bedfellows, and the European Commission has already shown on numerous occasions a complete disregard for democratic process.

Lo and behold, last week a letter from the Italian minister for economic development, Carlo Calenda, to the EU commissioner for trade, Cecilia Malmström, was obtained by the Italian “Stop TTIP Campaign,” and posted on its site. In the letter, the two discuss the possibility of Italy’s government coming to the Commission’s rescue and effectively blocking the parliaments of all the other countries from having their say on CETA.

“I would like to inform you that Italy, after a technical and political assessment, is ready to consider to support the Commission on the ‘EU only’ nature of (the) above-mentioned agreement,” Calenda wrote. The story was corroborated by an article published last week in Italy’s leading financial newspaper, Il Sole 24 Ore, which specifically mentions the government’s offer to block national votes.

As Glyn Moody notes in ArsTechnica, the national parliaments of the 28 member states could vote on CETA, but only if all EU governments demand it:

If Italy refuses to join with the other countries, the European Commission would be able to send the agreement to the Council of the European Union for approval, where a “qualified majority” would be enough for it to be passed.

It’s impossible to know exactly how the commission persuaded Italy’s government to do its dirty work, but suffice to say that the country’s crumbling banking system would provide some powerful leverage. As for its part in the secret deal, the Commission has good reason for wanting to bypass Europe’s 28 national parliaments: just one vote (out of 28) against the trade agreement would be enough to scupper a deal that has been seven years in the making and for which negotiations were concluded a year and a half ago.

Since then rising public and political opposition have forced the Commission to abandon the agreement’s controversial Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) clause, which would allow companies to sue states before arbitral tribunals, in favor of a permanent international Investment Court System – ICS – to adjudicate conflicts between international investors and host states, with real judges and slightly more transparency.

There are also fears that if CETA is signed, it would not only constitute a precedent for similar arrangements within TTIP; it would also allow U.S. companies to sue EU states through Canadian subsidiaries, while providing an estimated annual boost to the European economy of 0.01% — a rounding error, at best!

One of the few countries to actually vote on the inclusion of the ISDS clause in CETA is France, in November 2014. Both chambers resoundingly rejected the proposal while also demanding that any eventual approval of CETA must be ratified not only by the EU Parliament but by the national parliaments of all 28 Member States.

If Calenda’s letter is any indication, the Commission has no intention of honoring such a commitment. Earlier this month the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung also alleged that the Commission was planning to bypass national politicians by treating CETA as an “EU only” matter, putting it on “collision course” with EU member states:

The Commission wants the agreement with Canada not to be considered as a “mixed agreement,” but as a pure EU agreement. The Bundestag and Bundesrat would therefore have no say in the deal’s ratification. Nor would the parliaments of the other 27 EU member states….

The participation of national parliaments in the ratification of the agreement with the United States TTIP and its “little sister,” CETA, is one of the central planks of the public debate.

Despite — or perhaps because of — all the furore triggered by Greenpeace’s release last month of 248 pages of the draft text of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which confirmed many of the worst fears of the deal’s biggest critics, the Commission appears to be determined to take its anti-democratic approach to a whole new level. Quite simply, it will do whatever it takes to crowbar these trade agreements into law.

This latest development is also a stark reminder of the underhand and oft-ignored role played by many national governments in Europe’s epic trade deal saga. In May a fresh leak by the Seattle to Brussels Network revealed that five EU governments had proposed to introduce investor-state dispute settlement for all cross-border investments within the EU. Those counties were Austria, Finland, the Netherlands (whose government is facing calls for a referendum on TTIP), France, and Germany, both of whose governments have repeatedly criticized ISDS — in public! Their actions in private belie a very different agenda. By Don Quijones, Raging Bull-Shit.

Bankers in Spain and Italy can breathe a sigh of relief after Europe’s finance ministers decided to postpone a decision about eligible “risk-free” bank capital past a possibly messy Brexit and elections in France and Germany. Read…  Day of Reckoning for Banks in Italy, Spain, & Portugal Kicked Down the Road (Elegantly) for 18 Months

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  14 comments for “Is the EU Preparing for Another Stealth Coup?

  1. Nicko
    June 22, 2016 at 2:17 pm

    Trudeau’s government has been firing on all cylinders. All we need now is a new Clinton administration, wrap up the TTP with Asia, close the deal with Europe, that’ll complete the circle. The pieces are falling into place.

    A pro-Brexit vote may accelerate these trade-deals, as remaining bits of the UK (Wales, N. Ireland, Scotland, and others) make moves to join the EU. The anti-globalists will be stopped somehow.

    • d'Cynic
      June 22, 2016 at 6:49 pm

      The Canadian economy is dead in the water. The only part that is firing on all cylinders is real estate.
      Took a ride in the suburbs way outside the city of Vancouver in a quiet country road lined with family homes on large lots. Each property had a “For Sale”, or “Sold” sign. There was even one with “Sorry, not for sale”.
      Stop trolling and grow up.

  2. MC
    June 22, 2016 at 3:02 pm

    At this point one really needs to ask the question judges, lawyers and jurists have asked since Cicero’s times: cui bono?

    Trading agreements such CETA and the infamous TTIP are one way tickets: only US corporations will benefit, either directly or through their Canadian subsidiaries/divisions. What does the EU get in return? A 0.01% GDP increase which may or may not come? It seems some pretty meager compensation considering the risks EU members, EU-based corporations and the EU itself would be taking. After those 248 pages leaked are just a small part of the treaty. What we don’t know may actually be worse, far worse.

    I am beginning to smell another Russia here.
    The new Cold War the Obama Administration seems so willing to have brings exactly zero benefits to Europe. Only risks.
    It’s also damaging the European economy: French, German and Italian firms are all groaning for the lost business with Russia.
    In short Europe is gaining nothing by openly provoking Russia (something Bismarck, not exactly known as a peacenik, warned against in his days already) and guaranteeing the safety of countries like Poland or Lithuania which have a list of grievances with Moscow going back a couple of centuries.
    Cui bono? A handful of Cold War mummies which should be locked in a museum and some warmongers in the Beltway with an axe to grind because Russia ruined their plans for regime change in Syria. Europe gets nothing in return for being targeted once again by nuclear missiles.

    Perhaps it’s time we fire our present negotiating team and get someone a little bit better…

    • nhz
      June 22, 2016 at 3:29 pm

      what does Europe get in return? Plush jobs for Eurocrats at the IMF, World Bank, UN and other NWO institutions and probably lots of money for a few big EU multinationals; and disaster for ordinary people. There are plenty of historic examples of how this works out.

      BTW even here in Netherlands the warmongering and brutal lies about Russia from the (government sponsored) public news networks are beyond insane. Our politicians and the newsmedia do the bidding for the evil US neocons and their ilk, as if the rapture can’t happen soon enough :-(

      • richard le sarcophage
        June 23, 2016 at 1:53 am

        Exactly. The hatred of Russia is beyond demented, and even more deranged than in the days of the USSR.

  3. Jungle Jim
    June 22, 2016 at 3:17 pm

    I don’t think that an EU exit is in the cards. The referendum is said to be “non-binding” and there are rumors that the pols are already figuring out how to evade a leave vote. The EU is a slow motion coup d etat. European Parliament should be called what it is, a junta.

  4. nhz
    June 22, 2016 at 3:42 pm

    “… the Netherlands (whose government is facing calls for a referendum on TTIP),”

    at least the Dutch government already has plenty of experience in ignoring the outcome of a referendum if they don’t like it. With several Dutch politicians in high positions in the extremely un-democratic European Commission you bet the EU knows how to handle opposition.

    I think you have to see the proposals for investor-state settlement from the five states in the same light: in Netherlands this is presented to the public as something that should make TTIP more acceptable (obviously the general public doesn’t like TTIP despite massive government propaganda in favor of the treaty).

    On another note, not even the corrupt EU politicians are allowed to fully read the TTIP draft. Can’t be long before the EU turns into a 100% dictatorship ruled by people who never tire of openly venting their contempt of real democracy, like Juncker and Timmermans. The Third Reich is nearing completion ;-(

  5. nick kelly
    June 22, 2016 at 5:38 pm

    Ever flown ‘Democracy Airline’?

    It was quite an experience, when we were about to descend the co-pilot came on the PA and asked if we wanted ’15 degrees of flap or 20 ?’

    Seriously, asking the general public for input on something as complex as trade makes about as much sense.
    We are democracies. We elect people we think are competent, and they will hire experts they think are competent. If we don’t like the result we don’t re-elect them.

    I think the last sentence of the comment above this one sums up the general level of hysteria over TTIP.

    Re: the constant drone about ‘secrecy’- many times when a union and management go into negotiations there will be a news blackout. Neither side wants its own special interests agitating from the sidelines.
    The same goes for high level state-to-state negotiations.
    On trade and other matters, they are traditionally not conducted in the media.
    However, it is the job of the media to penetrate this veil. But good luck getting a trade story that will interest the public. They would rather pronounce on it than read about it.

    • Justme
      June 22, 2016 at 5:53 pm

      >>If we don’t like the result we don’t re-elect them.

      Pfft. They already have a cushy job lined up in the private sector as a reward.

      >>The same goes for high level state-to-state negotiations.

      This is not a state-to-state negotiation. It is a bunch of global corporations negotiating with their host states to get more power for said corporations. In secret.

    • nhz
      June 23, 2016 at 1:57 am

      “We are democracies. We elect people we think are competent, and they will hire experts they think are competent. If we don’t like the result we don’t re-elect them. ”

      You clearly haven’t understood how the EU works (or most EU nations by now, for that matter), read the article again. NO ONE who is dictating these EU policies has been ‘democratically elected’ so you can’t fire them either. The EU is almost a dictatorship and the EU parliament is just a PR operation, to suggest that the little people have some say too.

      And about those politicians who hire competent experts: politicians hire experts who say what they want, not because they are ‘competent’.

    • Peter Forsyth
      July 2, 2016 at 3:17 pm

      Nick kelly–We have no democracy. Central banks are the overlords and with the assistance of the commercial banks they operate to screw the public with debt. The politicians play a subservient part in this process but it could be said that they are only a junior partner at best. As for the media nothing must be reported that upsets this corrupt and cosy arrangement such as a declaration the democracy died a long time ago. Two parties acting in collusion with all this in mind put on a show every 4years just to fool the voters.

  6. nick kelly
    June 23, 2016 at 11:07 am

    Then there are no solutions- or do you want to have ANOTHER ‘power to the people’ type revolution and we know or should know how those turn out.
    But saying there is no solution is not a solution.
    There is one thing much of the comment of these sites have in common- they are long on criticism and short on alternate plans.

    • nhz
      June 23, 2016 at 1:37 pm

      You have a point there, however as long as the NWO elites can stick to their plan the people have no chance. So we need to make clear that they can’t proceed as planned, and a Brexit or similar decision might help.

      In many EU countries there are now movements for ‘basic democracy’ that allow everyone to vote on many issues. More power to the people, less power to politicians (so they are the first who are against this, EU career politicians even more so). This won’t work for every decision as some subjects are too complicated for a simple vote, but it’s a first step. Other steps would be allowing people to allocate the taxes they pay between all items that government spends money on; I predict this would cause HUGE changes because politicians don’t have the interest of the people in mind when they decide about government finances.
      Other proposals aim at making decisions at the lowest possible level (local/regional/national/international). Why does Europe have to decide about all kinds of issues that are ultimately very local affairs?

      There are many potential solutions, but first we have to loosen the grip of the NWO elites.

      • nhz
        June 24, 2016 at 2:29 am

        To me surprise the Brexit camp seems to have won. Will be very interesting to see how the elites react, both in Britain and in the EU (Commission). Until now all opposition to their plans has been ignored, but I doubt they will get away with that this time.

        Let’s hope the eurocrats finally start listening and not double down on their previous anti-democratic policies.

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