|The US-EURO flag as designed by Petrus|
The idea that the U.S. and the EU together are building a Transatlantic Empire started with two observations coming together. On one side I read some critical articles on trade negotiations between the European Union and the U.S. started this year on the 14th of June. On the other side I was surprised by the magnitude of the building site of the new NATO Headquarters in Brussels. This did not look like a building of a military alliance that was not important anymore since the end of the Cold War by the downfall of the Soviet Imperium. On the contrary it looks like a renewal of NATO by extending and modernizing its Headquarters.
|The construction site of the new NATO building opposite to "the old one" in Brussels, Belgium.|
Wikipedia (Dutch version: NAVO) informs that in the autumn of 2010, the Dutch construction company BAM started the construction of a new headquarters for NATO on the other side of the Avenue du Bourget in Brussels, so to say opposite the old NATO headquarter. The contract has a value of approximately 460 million euros (more than a half billion US$). The new building is of about 250,000 sqm and will host about 4,500 employees. Such an effort suggests more a strengthening of the NATO than the supposed reduction of the importance of this transatlantic military alliance. Such an investment indicates that NATO is planning to stay for another long time.
|NATO is build on the "Three Musketeers Principle" which reads "All for One, One for All"|
Since 1948, 4 years after the Second World War, West European countries cooperated military in the strongest way possible between free and independent nations, that is to say in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization NATO as an answer to Stalin's policy in Eastern and Central Europe. The core of the treaty is Article 5, what I would call “The 3 Musketeers Principle" that reads "All for One, One for All”, which means that in the event of an attack on one of the states north of the Tropic of Cancer, it will be perceived as an attack on all, and that all countries will cooperate to ward off the attacker.
It is clear that nearly all West European countries became a member of the NATO including also Turkey. It was a very successful alliance for the West European countries because it guaranteed peace and stability for about 50 years, years in which West Europa could not only rebuild but also create the so called welfare states. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the former member states of the Russian dominated Warschau Pact became gradually member of the NATO, countries like Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Lithuania, Estonia, Letonia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Romania and Bulgaria and even a country like Albania. Today NATO is going as far as the borders of Russia itself. These days an internal political struggle is even still going in Ukraina about which side it should choose, the European Union or Russia?
According to the common opinion, NATO had become less important after the end of the Cold War. Member States conceded the peace dividend and reduced their armed forces. But NATO has since been in a phase of transformation, in which new tasks such as combating terrorism, proliferation and anarchy on the agenda came. In the Prague Summit in 2002 and the Istanbul Summit in 2004 agreed on this. Article 5 has been declared to date once applied: after the attacks in New York and Washington on September 11, 2001. NATO, the United States shortly after the attacks supported by AWACS radar aircraft.
So it seems ironical but it was probably the Al Qaida attack on the Twin Towers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington that started the idea to rebuild the NATO as a global military alliance against terrorism in stead to be dedicated only to the defence of West Europe. Probably this is the reason why France more or less surprisingly decided to reintegrate the Nato command structure in 2009. In the time of the presidency of General de Gaulle France went away from NATO (1966) with the aim to develop its own independent nucleair capabilities, called Force de Frappe. However under the presidency of Sarkozy France started to reintegrate into NATO. The recent elected socialist president Hollande did not change this policy. On the contrary, he continues the French Africa policy of military interventions in Libya, Mali and recently in the Central African Republic. Great Britain coordinates its military operations worldwide already a long time with the U.S. It seems to me that in the next decades Europeans will continue to cooperate military with the U.S., whereby the U.S. will be the most powerfull and decisive military force.
On the economic level we see the same development: more economic intergration between the USA and Europe. “On 14 June (2013), Member States gave the European Commission the green light to start trade and investment talks with the United States. The launch builds on the report of a High-Level Working Group on Jobs and Growth, published in February 2013.”
Inmediately after this report was published, USA and Europe issued a common statement: “We, the Leaders of the United States and the European Union, are pleased to announce that, based on recommendations from the U.S.-EU High Level Working Group on Jobs and Growth co-chaired by United States Trade Representative Kirk and European Trade Commissioner De Gucht, the United States and the European Union will each initiate the internal procedures necessary to launch negotiations on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
“The transatlantic economic relationship is already the world’s largest, accounting for half of global economic output and nearly one trillion dollars in goods and services trade, and supporting millions of jobs on both sides of the Atlantic. We are committed to making this relationship an even stronger driver of our prosperity. In that regard, we welcome the High Level Working Group’s recommendations on how we can expand further our transatlantic trade and investment partnership, promoting greater growth and supporting more jobs.
A high-standard Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership would advance trade and investment liberalization and address regulatory and other non-tariff barriers.”
To emphasize the importance of the negotiations of this Convention, the European Commission made in March 2013 for its member states an impact assesment on the future of the EU-US trade relations and an in-depth analysis on the potential effects of the EU-US Treaty.
”When negotiations are completed, this EU-US agreement would be the biggest bilateral trade deal ever negotiated – and it could add around 0.5% to the EU's annual economic output.
– The European Union and the United States have the largest bilateral trade relationship and enjoy the most integrated economic relationship in the world....
– Total US investment in the EU is three times higher than in all of Asia.
EU investment in the US is around eight times the amount of EU investment in India and China together.
– EU and US investments are the real driver of the transatlantic relationship, contributing to growth and jobs on both sides of the Atlantic. It is estimated that a third of the trade across the Atlantic actually consists of intra-company transfers.
– The transatlantic relationship also defines the shape of the global economy as a whole. Either the EU or the US is the largest trade and investment partner for almost all other countries in the global economy.
– The EU and the US economies account together for about half the entire world GDP and for nearly a third of world trade flows.”
That these negotiations are about a further integration between the USA and Europe we can read in the following statements of the European Commission: “Given the low average tariffs (under 3%), the key to unlocking this potential lies in the tackling of non-tariff barriers. These consist mainly of customs procedures and behind the border regulatory restrictions. The non-tariff barriers come from diverging regulatory systems (standards definitions notably), but also other non-tariff measures, such as those related to certain aspects of security or consumer protection.”
How deep the integration between Europe and the USA will be is indicated by the fact that the recent negotiations were prepared by a so called High Level Working Group of the Transatlantic Economic Council that published the above mentioned report in February this year. “The Transatlantic Economic Council was set up in 2006 guide and stimulate the work on transatlantic economic convergence. The TEC is currently the only EU-US high level forum in which economic issues can be discussed in a coherent and coordinated manner. It brings together a wide range of ongoing economic cooperation activities in issues of mutual interest and provides for a platform to give political guidance and direction to this work. At the same time, the TEC provides for a political forum for discussing strategic global economic questions. The TEC brings together those Members of the European Commission and US Cabinet Members who carry the political responsibility for closer economic ties. Three "advisory" groups have been set up to help guide the work of the TEC:
In addition, civil society at large is consulted on the TEC's objectives and debriefed after its annual meetings.”
The barriers that must be demolished in this new major agreement include different standards and laws that both continents have on for example public health, public procurement, copyright and the like. It is much more difficult to harmonize these kind of standards and laws because they are often the result of deep cultural traditions and beliefs. These are the laws that until now ban gene food from Europe, gives protection to data and arrange to keep out of European hands the shipping to U.S. ports. That is why France wanted to exclude from these negotiations all aspects related to culture. After a lot of talks the other 26 EU countries agreed to leave aside all what has to do with culture, but if the European Commission during the negotiations decides the matter has to be discussed with the U.S., it can present the question again to the EU member States. "Then we'll say no again, as now," French Trade Minister Bricq said.
But today there is more criticism. The heart of this criticism is a strong anti Europe attitude that in recent years is gaining political ground in all West European countries including France, the Netherlands, Germany and of course also Great Britain. It is a new wave of conservative nationalism that was thought to be politically dead after World War II. For many European workers things have gone too fast. They feel threatened by the cheap labor force coming from the new EU members, not only undermining their level of wages but also other social security services. At the same time the global competition makes disappear industrial activities to other parts of the world, especially to China. Add to this the Bank and Eurocrisis which had as a result that many West European countries had such huge debts, they had to cut their national budgets, that in turn created more unemployed. For the average wage earner in Western Europe, the future has never been as uncertain as today. And as we know such an uncertainty is the breeding ground for political experiments that could destabilize Europe
The above information is coming from public sources like Wikipedia, the website of the European Commission, the NATO websit and papers.