Is a Eurasion Preferential Economic Zone a good idea?
By Andreas Bimba
THANK YOU DAVID CAMERON AND NIGEL FARAGE FOR THE EURASIAN PREFERENTIAL ECONOMIC ZONE – Even if you don’t know it yet.
Sometimes the self interest of those of the right coincides with the compassion of those of the left.
A few members of the affluent right like David Cameron and the working and middle class right like Nigel Farage do indeed have some compassion for at least most citizens and not just those that are within their support base. The BREXIT story is an example.
Even if most of Europe’s people don’t know it yet, they all owe UK Prime Minister David Cameron and UKIP leader and member of the European Parliament Nigel Farage a great deal of gratitude.
The role of the UK Labour Party has been underwhelming on the serious issue of the degeneration of the EU over the past decade or so but current trends under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn are looking much more positive, with the last vestiges of Tony Blair’s largely destructive neo-liberal policies and support base now being discarded.
It is clear to me that the EU was on a trajectory to becoming a corporate, undemocratic and even fascist state at some point with its own police force and military that may have been partly intended to enforce political control in ‘restless’ external as well as internal states at some point. Democratic assent was never attained for this expansion of powers which by itself should have set off warning bells.
Under current EU policies and plans the entrenched poverty and unemployment for the EU nations of the Mediterranean and for much of Eastern Europe would have continued and possibly worsened.
The Northern members that hold most of the capital and own most of the major European corporations as well as most of the comprehensively subsidised and supported industries would have prospered for a while in the ‘United States of Europe’ but this to a large extent would have been at the expense of the less developed South and East of Europe.
The disparities and gross injustices would however at some point have become too great and the EU would almost certainly have fractured frequently, or ultimately collapsed in a destructive and extremely wasteful way at some point.
Conflict with Russia or at least a return to cold war levels of military spending was probably also inevitable. This was already happening with Russia currently expanding its military as fast as finances allow.
Wasn’t the original justification of the EU the reduced possibility of war between European nations and greater peace and harmony. Well for this aspect the EU has performed poorly and even worse was on a rapid trajectory for disaster and possibly even World War in a nuclear weapon age. The proposed entry of Ukraine into the EU although reasonable for Ukraine was clearly seen as simply too threatening for Russia, especially when one considers the political direction the EU was heading internally.
Following the Russian invasion of Crimea and Eastern Ukraine, the geopolitical situation was extremely dangerous and war between NATO and Russia was only narrowly averted. The current situation between NATO and Russia remains very dangerous.
If you remove the undeniably many good policies and features of the current EU and if you critically assess the trends, the EU would most probably have become almost indistinguishable from a corporate fascist ‘United States of Europe’ that parallels many of the features of Hitler’s Germania.
Strong words but once the forces of corporate power, undemocratic institutions and ministries, control of the mass media, greed, narrow self interest, pervasive state security, dysfunctional democratic processes and inertia are only met with fear, apathy, passivity, fatalism and ignorance in the population, what was then in place that would have stopped this process? How would the people living in zones of poverty and unemployment within the EU have had their voices heard with the political power of nation states being progressively dissolved as the same time as those of the EU were increased?
Power is generally a one-way street and flows to the centre but hardly ever flows back again, this is why democracy and an engaged and if necessary militant populace is essential. Those that strive for ever greater state surveillance and control or ever more centralised economic control must be defeated or the cause for humanity will eventually be lost.
A corporate fascist ‘United States of Europe’ was hardly going to be a good role model for the world and a force for world peace.
NATO has proven to be the best arrangement for national and collective security and an EEC Mk2 Preferential Trade Zone with each nation being responsible for all of their own legislation including trade protection levels and each with their own currency is the way forward.
At some point in the future Russia, Ukraine and the other CIS states may also choose to join the EEC Mk2 Preferential Trade Zone and it would then become the Eurasian Preferential Economic Zone.
A Eurasian Preferential Economic Zone that eventually includes Europe’s largest nation, Russia and the other Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), as well as Turkey, once each has reached minimum democratic and human rights standards, and thereby includes most of the western and northern parts of the Eurasian Continent will be an enormous area of opportunity, not just for trade, but for tourism and even migration.
A Eurasian Preferential Economic Zone should present unprecedented business and personal opportunities for all member nations, as well as the wider world, as well as increase the likelihood of world peace.
Russia and the CIS states would maintain independent political and military control and over time the NATO – Russia military face off should dissipate.
A Eurasian Preferential Economic Zone would also be better at coping with the expected geopolitical imbalances of a re-emerging China, India and possibly a more radical and unified Islamic world and should be a less unstable, less confrontational and more meritorious than the direction the EU was heading.
No one should forget the urgent global warming crisis we all face. Anyone that may become enthusiastic about the economic opportunities offered by a Eurasian Preferential Economic Zone must also realise that global CO2 emissions must fall by at least 6% p.a. starting now, or it’s game over for everyone. Refer to my link to Professor James Hansen and his colleague’s research paper below.
The answer is simple but it will be fought by those that wanted the ‘United States of Europe’ so we must all fight back. The greater self interest of the Eurasian Preferential Economic Zone must be brought to the urgent attention of those running the EU before they waste too much energy in a hopeless fight to save the EU in its current form and trajectory.
Below is the text for my article in the above link to my earlier Facebook post made on 25 June 2016 following the BREXIT vote that should be read along with this article:
THE CASE FOR BREXIT. Post factum.
1 Because Germany has undue influence over the European Union (EU). France has become Germany’s sycophant and they collude to dominate the rest.
2 Industries tend to concentrate in one area in free trade zones and EVEN MORE SO in single currency zones, again Germany is the winner. Just remember what happens if a country with its own currency has a bad period with exports, the currency would fall and so exports become competitive again and local alternatives to imports that are now more expensive also become competitive, export industries survive and can continue to improve. This is the main reason for the extremely high unemployment in France, Italy, Spain, Greece and so on, that still have not recovered from the European GFC.
3 The major European banks and the European Central Bank have often proven to be corrupt, every bit as much as Wall Street. Their behaviour during the period when the Greek debt crises started and grew is criminal. Brexit for this alone.
4 When a nation loses its sovereign currency and adopts someone else’s currency it loses its ability to stimulate the economy through ongoing Keynesian deficit spending as it is no longer the currency issuer. That nation must instead beg to the EU central bank – the ECB, which has other priorities and rules that bend, but not in the favour of small players. In times of national emergency or war, this loss of financial control is CRITICALLY DANGEROUS.
5 The EU’s institutions like the ECB are undemocratic and are totally under the control of the big players – Germany and the sycophants.
6 The EU looks and probably is threatening to Russia. The original EEC model of free trade without loss of sovereignty with just harmonisation of standards and regulations is far more sensible and even Russia, Ukraine and others could have eventually joined. WE NEARLY HAD WW3 BECAUSE OF THIS!!! Wasn’t the EU originally set up to reduce the likelihood of war in Europe? Well it didn’t work out that way with Europe’s largest nation in terms of population and area Russia.
7 Globalisation, total free trade and neo-liberalism are a lie that only benefit the largest multinational corporations and are a race to either the bottom or a race to the nation with the best subsidy/support/policy/economies of scale in place such as Germany within the EU, but not globally. See how the Germans cheat, free trade in a zone that they dominate and protection from better international competitors such as China, Korea, Japan, the US and even Australia with minerals, energy and bulk agriculture. The best policy for most countries is predominately free trade but with moderate trade protection for those industry sectors deemed worth retaining plus support for R&D, higher learning closely tied with industry and an enterprise/industry incubator approach such as the Japanese METI organisation, or the Singapore approach, or California’s Silicon Valley approach for example. Such moderate trade protection can exist for nations that trade within the ‘preferential trade’ zone of the EEC Mk2 and a different level of trade protection can be applied to nations outside the EEC Mk2. Nations must have the authority to set their own levels of trade protection but the EEC Mk2 should determine preferred but non binding levels of trade protection. Contrary to the arguments of the free trade zealots, such apparently complex trade protection arrangements allow all countries to advance. If a nation sets trade protection levels too high or too low, then that nation pays the consequences. Some nations may choose to go totally free trade in some areas while others could become hermit kingdoms. This individual national control is in tune with national political and democratic control. Bilateral trade agreements could still be adopted both within and external to the EEC Mk2.
8 The British working class rejected the EU because the EU and all of Britain’s political parties rejected them long ago. Including the Labour Party for at least the last 30 years. Manufacturing is not a sunset industry of the past. JUST LOOK AT GERMANY, JAPAN, KOREA, CHINA AND PARTS OF THE US. Given the pro EU vote of Scotland, Northern Ireland and London, the rejection of the EU by the British working class, much of the middle class and by rural workers is very strong.
9 The EU will most likely dissolve and become the EEC Mk2 and Britain will again join or even more likely help to create it.
10 The people of Scotland and Northern Ireland may like the idea of clinging to mother Europe but mother Europe is just about to transform into a much more basic preferential trade zone. This will probably lead to a gradual warming of relations over time with the core of Britain, England, especially if as every decent economist expects, Britain will return to a renaissance of economic progress in a responsible and environmentally sustainable way as part of EEC Mk2.
11 The EU being fundamentally neo-liberal allowed the undercutting of local workers by foreign guest workers. These foreign workers would benefit more if their home countries had some trade barriers and economic, educational and technical support from the more affluent West European nations so that their nations developed.
12 Germany and much of Western Europe has pacifist tendencies and very few meet the required 2% of GDP target for defence spending to provide a sufficient deterrence against a re-assertive Russia under Putin. The poor nations of Eastern Europe are now left with the burden of providing the front line defence role for the rest of Europe and all have very weak economies due to being hollowed out by the EU and its powerful corporations following their transition from their state owned economies. These Eastern European nations only receive trivial levels of financial support for defence purposes from the far larger and richer West European nations.
13 The people of Eastern Europe have despite their best efforts really struggled to progress because of the EU’s free trade zone that preferentially favoured predatory Western and International corporations at the expense of under funded local businesses. The EU has provided support but it also insisted on the poison of neo-liberalism such as privatisations to the local oligarchs, harsh government spending limits, pitiful levels of pensions, social support and education spending and all the other dimensions of neo-liberalism being put in place as well. Austerity at a level that is even worse than has been forced on Greece. If the Western Europe of 30 years earlier, before neo-liberalism arrived, for example genuine social democracy, a mixed economy with moderate trade protection and an effective social welfare system was in place at the time the East European nations were transitioned from the previous state owned economies, then much better outcomes would have occurred. Some of the Eastern European nations living standards could have not only passed that of some of the Southern European nations but come up to Western European levels by now.
14 Now is the time to reject the corrupting influence of corporate money and vested interests over most of Europe’s democracies, reject globalisation puritanism, reject totally unprotected free trade, reject neo-liberalism, reject the reckless aspects of the banking and financial services sector (which must serve the wider economy but never rule) and all the examples of pointless speculative investment or ponzi schemes of various kinds and examples of rent seeking crony capitalism like that which the major West European Banks exhibited during the various ENGINEERED financial crises when tax payers were left with their corruptly incurred debts and having to pay massive bailouts to the banks. And to finish the good work the people were forced to endure massive unemployment and government spending austerity. The politicians intimately associated with these hugely corrupt bailouts must be held to account and thrown from office.
Brexit is the answer, the eurozone must be dissolved as soon as possible and the EU thoroughly overhauled.
Below I include a comment from Stephen Morris that shows the difficulties that could be faced by those driving for any worthy reform against powerful vested interests, that appeared in The Economist, comments section for this article:
This is the “Roach Motel Game”. You can get in but you can’t get out.
It is a game in which there is a permanent asymmetry between the ease of transferring rights to the central government players and the difficulty of ever getting those rights transferred back.
Notwithstanding Brexit, if you study the history of non-binding referendums you will soon find that the Elite usually gets its own way in the end.
That is, after all, what “Elite” means: you get what YOU want, everyone else gets to do as they’re told, and your theologians devise elegant explanations for why that state of affairs is all for some “Greater Good”. In centuries past Greater Good was usually couched in terms of “God’s Will”. Nowadays it is couched in terms of “growth” (for which we might substitute “profit”).
The only non-binding referendums not to have been reversed (yet) were the Euro referendums in Denmark and Sweden which mercifully saved those countries from the “wisdom” of their betters. But even those were on the point of being reversed (without popular consent) when the GFC struck in 2008 and rendered it politically unpalatable . . . at least for a little longer.
Notwithstanding Brexit, it needs to be remembered that the Elite still hold all the cards.
They own all the “real options”. They still control the corrupt system of “elective” government. They can bide their time and wait for an opportune moment to force through a reversal.
The Roach Motel is an application of undemocratic Elite power to the process of centralisation. It has been seen is places as diverse as the US, Canada, Australia and Europe. To the extent that The People have had any say at all, it is very early on in the process and for a much more limited pooling of sovereignty.
Once a (non-democratic) central government is created, however, it immediately begins to attract aggressively narcissistic, Machiavellian, psychopathic political agents who leverage their exist power to accreted more power.
We can see this in the current movement towards fiscal union. The centralisation of monetary policy (removing the fluid and allocative efficient free-market adjustment of currencies) created a holocaust that was only predictable (and indeed predicted by people like me!).
The obvious solution – abandon the Euro – is unacceptable to the Elite, so the second best option – centralise fiscal policy – is imposed instead. But control of fiscal policy means control of all policy. If you collect the taxes and have discretion over how to disburse them again, you can control almost anything. We see this in the use of “fines” on member states to impose control in other areas of policy.
It’s a one-way street. Power flows to the centre but can never flow back again. No wonder the peoples of Europe are opposed to it. No wonder those people need to kept in their place by withholding Democracy from them.
Paradoxically, the best way to facilitate the centralisation of power is to introduce real Democracy on the Swiss model. The people of the Swiss cantons have been happy to refer powers to their federal government because they know those powers cannot be abused: if they were the Peoples would use their Democratic rights to withdraw them.
Of course, such a system wouldn’t suit The Economist. The Economist’s role is to promote Elite rule with whatever specious arguments it can find. It revels in the centralisation of Elite power with no genuine democratic control.
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eurasian pferential??? Sounds terrific but surely, that would cripple the pommie economy????
Interesting article and while I agree with much that you say I differ on a number of important points.
The US ran a coup in Ukraine – something you seem to fail to understand and once you do, if you can, you might understand why what happened in Crimea and is happening in Donbas and nearby.
The EU was largely a creation of Washington and the TTIP is the next logical extension.
I doubt that Russia or China will ever, as Independent states, want to be subsumed under American control – as it maintains today over much of Europe.
These two countries along with a host of others are striving to develop independent economic and strategic alignments – and who can blame them – given the US hegemonic ambitions?
You really do not understand the nature of Empire. One one level I can understand that – its not something that is discussed in our media or probably even at higher levels of education in Australia but it is essential to ones understanding of power structures in the world today. Once you do so we can sensibly discuss where we go from here.
I don’t agree with your interpretation of the toppling of the previous Ukrainian Viktor Yanukovich government as being a US run coup and most Ukrainians would not agree with this interpretation. This coup or uprising was primarily undertaken by middle class and now poor Ukrainians upset with the refusal of Yanukovich to form a closer relationship with the EU which many saw as a way to improve their lives. Yanukovich was seen as being too subservient to Putin, the deliberate run down of the Ukrainian military was an example. The Yanukovich government was generally corrupt, incompetent, state assets were given to mostly undeserving oligarchs and living standards were very low with little sign of improvement. Progress has been made by the newly elected Petro Poroshenko led government despite the very costly and unjustifiable war imposed by Russia. Corruption is still endemic and living standards remain low but firstly this stupid war must end.
Agreed that the US is driving the TTIP which is a crock of shyt. Obama is certainly an ‘establishment’ President and is implementing the agenda of the corporate lobbies which are seriously corrupting the US democratic and political processes.
This hypothetical Eurasian Preferential Economic Zone would only arise if Russia and the CIS nations chose to join a European free trade zone. At its simplest it is just a bilateral trade agreement with some harmonisation of standards and regulations. At what point does a bilateral trade agreement between Russia + CIS and the rest of Europe become equivalent to the trade between the other European nations and so Russia and the CIS nations then become full members? This would take time and trust would hopefully build over time.
I wouldn’t see this as a US controlled organisation but as always they will get involved. This hypothetical proposal would envisage Russia and the CIS nations maintaining their full political and military independence. Would Ukraine join NATO at some point? Maybe Ukraine would stay militarily unaligned as they are quite a large country?
As for China and India joining such a zone at some point? This may be possible but Russia and most of the CIS nations are economically and culturally much closer to the rest of Europe despite the current hostilities. Step by step.
In regard to Professor James Hansen and global warming, here are some links:
mark delmege and Andreas Bimba, your ‘exchanges’ are very illuminating.
Thanks for that. Much to ponder. ? ? ?
Don’t stop. Explain further.
We will have to disagree on Ukraine. Let me just say though I never said the previous Ukraine govt wasn’t dodgy though I think the new one is far more so. Shifting one bunch of oligarchs for another is not a recipe for success – and its even worse when you consider the political alignments of some of its far right wing associates. The US will do what it did with other former socialist countries – their domestic industries will be decimated, closed scrapped and be replaced with imports and credit till the credit is maxed out. And much like the rest of Europe government services will be sold off.
There will be no markets to replace those of Russia and unemployemt as bad as it is will get worse.
The US will build or takeover military bases while doing all it can to isolate Russia from the rest of Europe.
Russia is one country in Europe it cannot bring under its control and will therefore do all it can bring it down. Its the nature of Empire.
And your thoughts on a Eurasia union of sorts has no chance without a dominant US. It just doesn’t do what it can’t control.
In an ideal world Europe could have a better relationship with the rest of the world but it has to grow up and become independent first.
But Europe is yesterday – in the scheme of things. The major world economic drivers of this century are elsewhere and that is where the money and development will be – not Europe. Check out the new Silk Road, BRICS, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and all that follows – India Pakistan Iran the Stans etc add in ASEAN and the agreements they are making with the rest of the world – China to Russia and below is where the action is. Europe can be friendly or hostile but not both and these other countries collectively will be/are more important.
Wam. I don’t think a EPEZ would cripple the UK economy. The EU budget contributions from the UK are mostly avoided, trade and investment opportunities would be huge and if any important UK industries came under too much competitive or more likely unfair competition, then Whitehall or the Scottish parliament could for example increase or introduce a tariff.
Why do you say “Following the Russian invasion of Crimea and Eastern Ukraine”? The people in both those territories are Russian, and Russian-speaking. What happened in Kiev was a political disaster, orchestrated and led by the State Department in USA. We all remember who the Secretary of State was at that time? Do you realise that Victoria Nuland is part of the Kagan family?
Nuland: OK. He’s (Joe Biden) now gotten both Serry and [UN Secretary General] Ban Ki-moon to agree that Serry could come in Monday or Tuesday. So that would be great, I think, to help glue this thing and to have the UN help glue it and, you know, F*ck the EU.
The MSM, Nato (the corporation, not NATO) and the USA are pushing the world into a nuclear war. If Germany and France decide to join the EPEZ, will the rest of the EU follow?
Just in –
Turchinov’s herald confessed terror against fellow citizens
Sunday, July 10, 2016 – 15:47
The leaders of the coup in Ukraine in 2014 had to resort to terrorist methods against their fellow citizens in order to stop the Russian spring.
It was admitted by Yuri Butusov, the chief editor of the “Censor” site controlled by the Security Council Secretary Alexander Turchinov.
Butusov delivered a policy text explaining why the Ukrainian Stepan Bandera is a hero, despite the fact that he resorted to terrorist methods and collaborated with Nazi Germany.
According to him, like Bandera, Maidan supporters had to break the law ‘for the sake of Ukraine’.
‘When the time comes and we can tell how in the spring of 2014 the war began, who began a struggle against Russia and the Russian invasion, how difficult it was and what methods were used… I think it will be too frustrating for fans of morality because it was not very popular people who did many important things and not always by friendly methods. However, it is our history, and the evaluation of the actions of the leaders of that time can be based on the results, when historians and investigators have worked in the archives and courts. In war, there are needed people who are able to act, who always act for the goal and do not lose time for the procedure. There was no other way, otherwise, Ukraine would have faced the fate of the Ukrainian People’s Republic in 1918. Politics is never done in white gloves. To achieve pure ideals and protect their people, politicians sometimes have to enter into the blood and dirt,’ wrote Butusov in his blog.
Earlier, Gennady Korban, a colleague of the oligarch Igor Kolomoisky, took on himself and his partner responsibility for the organisation of the mass burning of pro-Russian citizens in Odessa on May 2, 2014.
Later, there came out details of the torture applied in Dnepropetrovsk to people accused of “separatism” and sympathy to Russia.
‘When we came here, to power, the first thing we did was suppress the underground. Any pro-Russian underground. They stormed the administration. Now no one remembers it. But it was, and it was very hot. We just suppressed it. Legally or illegally, but we did it,’ saiKorban about the first steps of the governor Igor Kolomoisky in 2014.
DONi News Agency
David and Mark.
It’s a Russian invasion because the military action of sending in the ‘little green men’ into the Crimean peninsula was a decision of the Russian government. The decision to spread the conflict into Eastern Ukraine, recruit local Russian speaking fighters, bring in large numbers of Russian ‘patriot’ fighters from Russia, to use units of the Russian Armed Forces to fight the Ukrainian armed forces, seize Ukrainian territory and to kill large numbers of Ukrainian soldiers in a pointless and stupid war was also a decision of the Russian government. Thousands of civilians have died and hundreds of thousands now live miserable lives in a war zone all because of decisions of the Russian government.
Russia may have a good historical claim to the Crimean peninsula but so do the Muslim Tatars and the Ukrainians. The Turks may also have a good claim. The methods used by Russia were wrong and the perspective of the Ukrainian people also matters, not just Russians.