European Union (EU)


Archive of European Integration history of the common market
Freedom, Security, Justice EU website -- the organization has seventeen policy units, including those dealing with immigration and asylum, civil justice, and the coordination of anti-drug policies


"To a growing number of Europeans, however, it is America that is in trouble and the "American way of life" that cannot be sustained. The American pursuit of wealth, size, and abundance - as material surrogates for happiness - is aesthetically unpleasing and ecologically catastrophic. The American economy is built on sand (or, more precisely, other people's money). For many Americans the promise of a better future is a fading hope. Contemporary mass culture in the US is squalid and meretricious...

"America's cultural peculiarities (as seen from Europe) are well documented: the nation's marked religiosity, its selective prurience,[1] its affection for guns and prisons (the EU has 87 prisoners per 100,000 people; America has 685), and its embrace of the death penalty...

"(of the world's developed countries only the US and South Africa offer no universal medical coverage). According to the World Health Organization the United States is number one in health spending per capita - and thirty-seventh in the quality of its service.

"As a consequence, Americans live shorter lives than West Europeans. Their children are more likely to die in infancy: the US ranks twenty-sixth among industrial nations in infant mortality, with a rate double that of Sweden, higher than Slovenia's, and only just ahead of Lithuania's...

"...a recent study suggests that for every dollar the US spends on education it gets worse results than any other industrial nation. American children consistently under-perform their European peers in both literacy and numeracy...

"The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights promises the "right to parental leave following the birth or adoption of a child" and every West European country provides salary support during that leave. In Sweden women get sixty-four weeks off and two thirds of their wages. Even Portugal guarantees maternity leave for three months on 100 percent salary. The US federal government guarantees nothing. In the words of Valgard Haugland, Norway's Christian Democratic minister for children and family: "Americans like to talk about family values. We have decided to do more than talk; we use our tax revenues to pay for family values."...

Foreign aid... "The US is the meanest of all the rich countries on the OECD's Development Assistance Committee. The Europeans are by far the most generous...

"There is more. The US contains just 5 percent of the world's population (and falling), but it is responsible for 25 percent of the world's greenhouse gas output per annum. Each year our atmosphere has to absorb twenty metric tons of carbon dioxide for every American man, woman, and child; but just nine tons for every European. And the American share continues to grow, even as the Bush administration blocks any international action on pollution or global warming...

"Abolition of the death penalty is a condition for EU membership, whereas the US currently executes prisoners on a scale matched only in China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the Congo. American opposition to an International Criminal Court has been supported in the UN and elsewhere by Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Indonesia, Israel, and Egypt. The American doctrine of "preventive war" now finds its fraternal counterpart in Muscovite talk of "preventive counterrevolution."...

"As things now stand, boundary-breaking and community-making is something that Europeans are doing better than anyone else. The United States, trapped once again in what Tocqueville called its "perpetual utterance of self-applause," isn't even trying" (Tony Judt. "Europe vs. America." The New York Review of Books, 10 February 2005 Issue; http://www.truthout.org/docs_05/012305L.shtml, accessed June 7, 2005).


"Will the corporate social responsibility (CSR) movement usher in an era of corporate behaviour, defined by enhanced respect for workers, local eommunities, and the environment?

"The CSR movement is by now well established in Europe. Although less developed in the US, it is beginning to make its presence felt there as well. Its basic premise is that the responsibility of a corporation extends beyond the traditional objective of providing financial returns to its shareholders. Instead, corporations should also pursue such broader objectives as sustainable growth, equitable employment practices and long-term social and environmental well-being--often characterised as "stakeholder" interests...

"Almost half of the world's largest corporations now produce social and environmental reports in addition to their financial reports. Although the reports vary enormously in tone and content, they tend to be elaborate and glossy, helped along by an expert community of consultants and "auditors." Until now they have been voluntary and thus unregulated. They remain so in the US, but in Britain this month new government regulations came into force requiring publicly traded companies to identify and disclose social and environmental risks that are financially material" (John Conley. "A responsibility to talk the talk." Weekly Guardian, 27.05.05: 7).

CSR Movement News
CSR Watch
CSR Movement Links
Next Step for CSR article


Example of the Opposite Viewpoint

"CAFTA is worse than NAFTA... a sweeping protection program for global corporate investors that wil (1) give foreign corporations greater legal rights than we citizens have in our own country; (2) allow multinational corporations to override our laws (national, state and local) whenever U.S. law conflicts with their profit expectations; and (3) usurp the Constitutional authority of U.S. courts by unilaterally transferring jurisdiction over these corporate-state conflicts out of our judicial system into super-judicial, supranational, corporate-friendly, global-trade tribunals which operate in secrecy and are even authorized to overrule U.S. Supreme Court decisions...

"...Bush's assault is buried in the arcane, corporate-written language of the latest "free trade" scam, called CAFTA -- the Central American Free Trade Agreement...

"Not only does it extend all of the job-busting, farm-killing, environment-exploiting provisions of NAFTA to six more countries (Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua), but it also expands the ability of foreign corporations to assert their profit interests over the people's interests, both in the U.S. and in the six Latino nations.

"The Bushites have declared that CAFTA is their number-one trade priority...

"NAFTA... as we've learned the hard way, they lied. Far from generating a surging trade surplus and a flood of new jobs, as promised, that deal has eliminated more than two million US jobs and turned our $1.7 billion trade surplus with Mexico into a $45 billion deficit. Meanwhile, in Mexico, the availability of stable, full-time jobs has shrunk, and the pay and working conditions of most Mexican workers has deteriorated...

"...our people's sovereignty [is] already being stealthily swallowed up by NAFTA--a vacuuming up that CAFTA would switch to high gear...

"...chapter 11... of NAFTA... gives foreign corporations radical power... to use a private enforcement mechanism to impose their profit interests over all other interests.

"For example, if a Mexican or Canadian corporation doesn't like one of our environmental restrictions, it can file a Chapter 11 action demanding that either the restriction be eliminated or that our federal government make a huge cash payment as compensation...

"NAFTA has elevated this (and any) self-serving corporation to the level of a sovereign nation, on a par with the government of the United States of American...

"So far, 42 corporations have filed NAFTA cases against laws and regulations set by supposedly sovereign governments in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico...

"But CAFTA goes where even NAFTA did not dare to tread. It would expand the scope of corporate protectionism through two provisions. One declares that the corporate investments to be protected from public actions include not only real property, but also the owners' "assumption of risk" and their "expectation of gain or profit." Hello. This officially sanctions corporate socialism, making the tas-payers liable for corporate business risks and responsible for the profits its owners "expected" to make.

"Second, a little technicality in Article 10.12 of CAFTA broadens the corpoirate reach dramatically. Under NAFTA, a U.S. corporation cannot file a case with these tribunals against our own national, state, or local laws. But CAFTA rips a multibillion-dollar loophole into that prohibition. It would allow the foreign subsidiaries of U.S. corporations to file such cases against national, state, or local government actions here at home. Unlike smaller businesses, global corporations have subsidiaries everywhere, so this gives them a right that our hometown companies don't have. Phillip Morris, for example, could use a Central American subsidiary to challenge U.S. tobacco laws in a CAFTA tribunal...

"Article 11 [of CAFTA]... local government services (such as education, energy, and health care)... if a local government function in the U.S. or the other six nations is in competition with private firms that provide such services, then the government must allow all corporations... to bid on privatizing that public service...

"Article 11.8(2)... allows the secretive trade tribunals to render judement on whether any particular government regulation in the service sector is "necessary." Requirements to protect the privacy of our personal information, for example, could be subject to challenge by foreign corporations under this proviso, allowing a CAFTA tribunal to decide if such a requirement is necessary, regardless of the fact that We the People had already decided through our legislative process that it is necessary...

""Free trade" is now a bitter epithet in Latino countries--a euphemism for corporate exploitation, expropriation and domination...

"In Honduras, when the congress rushed through the ratification of CAFTA, more than a thousand angry demonstrators surrounded the capital building, causing the terrified legislators to flee... voted to scrap Congress's ratification...

"Likewise, opposition in Costa Rica is so intense that the country's president now says that he won't even submit the pact for ratification" (Jim Hightower and Phillip Frazer. "A Corporate Plan to Trump Our Laws and the Constitution." Hightower Lowdown, June 2005).


"France, the country that has been the driving force behind European integration since 1947, may be about to reject [the EU constitution]... 10% unemployment, a sluggish economy, dissatisfaction with an aging president and an underperforming prime minister are part of the story. So is the perception that the constitution, authored by another elderly French politician, Valery Giscard d'Estaing, is a triumph for Anglo-American liberal economics and a fatal blow to the European "social model." In the background is unfocused anxiety about the erosion of France's place in an expanded union of 25 member states in which the old alliance with Germany no longer sets the agenda, and where English has triumphed over la langue de Moliere...

"It bears repeating that there is no plan B. The French and the Dutch know that rejecting this constitution will not be cost-free. The British will also end up with a weaker Europe if they do" ("Europe on the edge." Guardian Weekly, May 27-June 2, 2005: 3).


Jonathan Steele says that France voting against the constitution may be good in the long run... "Speaker after speaker insisted the issue is the type of Europe they want for all Europeans: one where competition is not the overriding principle and market forces remain regulated. They did not see why economic principles had to be enshrined in a constitution, a document that ought to stick to democratic rights...

"Tony Blair was the bogeyman, getting far more mentions than George Bush. "Look what's happened in the UK," said a shop steward. "There's a centre, and centre right, an extreme right, and no left at all"...

"Polls show the generation most supportive of the no camp are not elderly traditionalists but the under-30s. With youth unemployment at 20%, it is hardly surprising...

"The prime minister, Jean-Pierre Raffarin, also upped the stakes last week, predicting months of political crisis throughout Europe if France said no...

"But a pause for reflection on how to produce a short, clear and eloquent constitution, not dominated by a particular economic ideology, will do no harm... Europe wil not go backwards, let alone collapse" (Jonathan Steele. "'Non' could help constitution." Guardian Weekly, May 27-June 2, 2005: 3).


"On the more moderate right of the governing UMP and UDF parties, the no vote is championed by Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, who says he is "a Gaullist and a Republican" and that his "non" is in favour of "a Europe that will not extend its frontiers as far as Turkey."

"On the left, the no camp unites the Communist party and the even further leftwing Communist Revolutionary League, who see the constitution as the blueprint for a free-market Europe" (Jon Henley. "Last-ditch campaign to win yes vote in France." Guardian Weekly, May 27-June 2, 2005: 10).


"Ayaan Hirsi Ali... In 2002, while still working as a researcher for the then conventionally multiculturalist Dutch Labour party, she publicly described the Prophet as a pervert (for taking a child as one of his wives) and as a tyrant. She took over where the eccentric populist Pim Fortuyn had left off, arguing that Islam was a backward religion, that it subordinated women and stifled art...

"It was towards the end of last year, however, that she became the source of a national crisis in the Netherlands. An 11-minute film, written by Hirsi Ali and directed by Van Gogh, was broadcast on television. It featured the stories of four woemn pleading with God for release from domestic, social and marital bondage. What many Muslims found intolerable were the images of naked female bodiees, on which had been painted verses from the Qur'an authorising the subordination of women...

"On November 2, while cycling in Amsterdam, Theo van Gogh was shot eight times by a young, bearded man wearing a long jellaba...

"In the aftermath of the murder, the already fraught issues of Dutch multiculturalism, and of community relations with the country's 900,000-strong Muslim population, became incendiary. Mohammed Bouyeri, the man arrested for his killing, had been in many respects, a model of integration: he was of Moroccan descent, but Dutch-born and Dutch-educated, and this cast him in the role of the enemy within...

"It is possible that, as Mak puts it, the Netherlands is "a small, provincial country", unable to bear the realities of globalization, which has used a nasty murder as an excuse to conflate issues of Islam, immigration and security. But the country's problems are far from imaginary. Van Gogh and Hirsi Ali are not the only public figures to have been targeted with death threats. Amsterdam's Jewish mayor, Job Cohen -- despite meticulous bridge-building with Muslim communities -- also requires bodyguards, as does his Moroccan-born deputy, Ahmed Aboutaleb.

"In many ways the Netherlands is a crucible case within Europe, because the issues surrounding immigration are so stark. For example, the economic argument deployed by both leftwing multiculturalists and free-market conservatives -- that immigration revives aging populations, provides labour resources and generates entrepreneurial activity -- simply does not apply in the Netherlands. There has been no overall economic benefit to population change since unskilled guest workers were invited to the Netherlands in the early 1970s. According to Paul Scheffer, a leading critic of multiculturalism and professor of urban sociology at Amsterdam university, up to 60% of first generation Turkish and Moroccan populations are unemployed. "It's a huge failure," he says, "everyone can see that."

"Within a generation the Netherlands has swung from blithe, open-door immigration to anxious protectionism... By 2001, 46% of the population of Amsterdam consisted of first- or second-generation immigrants. It is in the Netherlands that European multiculturalism most dramatically flourished and died...

"Add to this the fact that nearly 1 million of the Netherlands' 1.7 million immigrants are Muslim, and it is not hard to see how issues of Islam and migration have become entangled.

"Which is why Hirsi Ali's full-frontal attacks on Islam generate such acute discomfort. She argues that there is less a problem with migration in general than with its Muslim component in particular, and that she should know, because she is herself a Muslim migrant. Hopes for a moderate Islam are only meaningful, she argues, it if is possible to chip away the theological brickwork--constructed, she believes, on a foundation of femaile oppression--which permeates the structure of the religion. But Islam, she says, is unable to endure criticism or change, and is essentially at odds with European values...

Influenced by events of September 11, however, she began to publish articles arguing that Islam was not capable of integrating into a society that was itself not very good at integration. Furthermore, she concluded, if you looked into the condition of women in Muslim communities you found an intractable problem, one which liberals and multiculturalists refused to address...

""I am not against migration. It is simply pragmatic to restrict migration, while at the same time encouraging integration and fighting discrimination. I support the idea of the free movement of goods, people, money and jobs in Europe. But that will only work if universal human rights are also adopted by the newcomers. And if they are not, then you run the risk of losing what you have here, and what other people want when they come here, which is freedom"...

""We Muslims are brought up with the idea that there is just one relationship possible with God--submission. That's Islam: submission to the will of Allah. I want to bring about a different relationship, in which you say, 'Dear God, I would like to have a conversation with you.' Instead of submission, you get a relationship of dialogue. Let's just assume it's possible"" (Alexander Linklater. "Danger woman." Guardian Weekly, May 27-June 2, 2005: 17-18).


"European leaders' long-held dream of anchoring the continent's greater unification in its first constitution was dissolving before their eyes last week after the Dutch delivered the second blow to the idea in three days.

"Given the chance to have their say in thier first referendum, the Netherlands voted by an overwhelming majority against the treaty establishing a constitution for Europe.

"The Dutch rejected the treaty by 62% to 38% on a high turnout of 62%...

"The Dutch revolt against their rulers in The Hague and Brussels was without parallel. For 50 years the Netherlands has been a stronghold of European integration...

"...the most unpopular government in living memory.

"The Dutch are wary of forfeiting their veto in European policy-making... they also feel bullied by the bigger countries and let down by the euro, seen to have brought steep price rises while the currency's rulebook has been flouted with impunity by German and France...

"Growing anti-Muslim sentiment, opposition to EU membership for Turkey, and fears over losing control of immigration policy all contributed to the debacle for the pro-EU camp" (Ian Traynor, Nicholas Watt, and Michael White. "Is Europe's Treat Dead?" Guardian Weekly, June 10, 2005: 1).


Europe Stunned

"France's emphatic rejection of the EU constitutional treaty is a stunning blow at a time when the continent faces grave economic problems and political challenges. Much comment in recent weeks has suggested that a no vote, while embarrassing, could be shrugged off, since the Treaty of Nice will allow the union to carry on functioning.

"But that misses the point that the constitution was agreed unanimously by 25 member states. It represents a considerable investment of political capital and is a carefully crafted compromise between different visions of the union, streamlining the way it functions and boosting its clout in a world dominated by an unassailably powerful US. Its defeat is very bad news for those who want a more coherent Europe punching at its weight...

"...anti-Turkish feeling was a key issue of the French and Dutch no campaigns" ("Europe Stunned." Guardian Weekly, June 3, 2005: 3).


"The leaders of the 25 European Union nations went home after a failed two-day summit meeting in anger and in shame, as domestic politics and national interests defeated lofty notions of sacrifice and solidarity for the benefit of all" (Elaine Sciolino. New York Times, June 19, 2005).


"Only two member states showed how European they were: Germany, which is prepared to increase its already large contribution, and little Belgium, which is very community-minded.... Tony Blair sang the praises of his free-market, socially minded, British-style third way--the best answer, he said, to Europe's problems. Jacques Chirac, for his part, threw himself into a solitary offensive against enlargement" (Editorial. Le Figaro, June 18, 2005).


"Lighting up in a shopping centre will carry a penalty of £50 under proposals for a smoking ban announced by the [English]government this week, while publicans who serve food will be fined £200 if they allow customers to have a cigarette with their pint. [Scotland has already banned public smoking.]...

"The British Medical Association continued its pressure for a total smoking ban. "Given it is acknowledged that secondhand smoke kills, the lives and health of employees must be the priority," said Sam Everington, the deputy chairman" (Sarah Boseley. "Smoking plans fail to please." Guardian Weekly, June 24, 2005: 14).


"The European Union and the United States are paying out billions of pounds in secret subsidies to their farmers as they exploit every available loophole to avoid real concessions to the developing world in the current round of global trade talks, Oxfam said last week.

"In a report designed to put pressure on rich western countries in the build-up to next month's G8 summit at Gleneagles, the campaign group accused Washington and Brussels of using creative accounting and the "Enronization" of their accounts to continue with their protectionist regimes...

"Oxfam said, however, that the US and the EU were using the rules of the World Trade Organization to disguise the real level of their payments to farmers. The US was paying 200 times more in export support than it declared, while the EU was paying four time more...

"Oxfam says rich countries have been redefining rather than reducing subsidies at the WTO. As a result, overall farm support in developed countries has not changed since 1986, and still stands at more than $250bn a year in real terms" (Larry Elliott. "Oxfam accuses West of concealing farm subsidies." Guardian Weekly, June 24, 2005: 31).


"In fact, the Islamist terrorist threat to the United States today largely emanates from Europe, not from domestic sleeper cells or, as is popularly imagined, the graduates of Middle Eastern madrasas, functional idiots who can do little more than read the Koran... the 9/11 pilots became militant in Hamburg. The attacks in Madrid last year that killed 191, and the assassination of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh, demonstrate that men animated by Al Qaeda's worldview have recently conducted significant acts of terrorism in Europe, a trend that is likely to accelerate as continued havy Muslim immigration into Europe collides with widespread racism to create a population of alienated Muslims who often feel that no matter how much money they make, or how long their families have been in the country, as Pakistanis in London they are never quite British, or as Algerians in Paris they are not quite French" (Peter Bergen. "Beware of the holy war." The Nation, June 20, 2005: 25-34).


"Immigrants may have to pass a French language test if they want long-term residence rights in the country, a minister said last week...

""At present there is no language requirement, and I believe one is necessary. What interests us is successful immigration--and behind language lies employment, accommodation, everything."

"Few EU states require immigrants to master their language. But in Germany applicants for permanent residence must pass a language and general culture test, and Austria and Denmark have introduced similar measures" ("Immigrants face language tests." Guardian Weekly, Aug.4, 2005: 9).


"There is little doubt that massive unemployment is the cancer now undermining the European Union to the point of jeopardising its very existence...

"Those who argue that the common agricultural policy (CAP) should be preserved in aspic while claiming to favour research and innovation and rejecting any EU budget increase are pure demagogues. Blair is right to denounce them.

"The CAP was originally what held the EU together. It rationalised Europe's overproductive agriculture and brought prosperity to farmers, particularly French farmers. But it was flawed. Its chief beneficiaries were "farming capitalists." It did little to help regional development, caused a drift from the land, increased the number of set-asides, plunged small farmers into debt and, in recent years, introduced excessive amounts of red tape. It is a policy that is bound to be scrapped eventually" (Claude Allegre. "French must admit that Blair has a point." Guardian Weekly, Sep. 9, 2005: 5).


"...the opening of the accession process for Turkey's membership of the European Union...

"The parallels are inescapable: the US launched its regime change in a Muslim country with shock and awe. The EU quietly initiates its regime change in the Muslim country next door with the shock of 80,000 pages of EU regulations on everything from the treatment of waste water to the protection of Kurdish-minority rights. While one sends in its Humvees and helicopters, the other sends in an army of management consultants, human-rights lawyers and food-hygiene specialists.

"The more the US model of regime change disintegrates into violent chaos in Iraq, the more the EU glows with discreet pride in its own unparalleled record of successful regime change, from post-distatorship Spain and Portugal to the more recent enlargement countries such as Hungary and Estonia" (Madeleine Bunting. "Regime change, European-style, is a test of civilisation." Guardian Weekly, Sep. 30: 5).


"In Europe state support of Christianity has alienated muslims from society. Can it happen here?

"As political and religious leaders in this country challenge the longstanding separation between church and state, Americans need only look to Europe, with its anxieties about homegrown Muslim terrorists, for a wake-up call. The European experience teaches that there is no way for government to favor religion in general; it will favor specific expression of religion, invariably Christian, and thereby push others aside. In the contemporary and globalized world, where the United States and Western Europe provide new homes to millions of immigrants from all over the world, breaching the wall between religions and government runs great risks.

"Yet that appears to be the direction in which we [the US] are heading...

"In Europe we can see the dangers of the interpenetration of church and state. As secular as Europeans are, their societies have deeply institutionalized religious identities, which are the result of historic settlements after centuries of religious conflict. In France, where laïa;citè, the exclusion of religion from the affairs of state, is the official ideology, the state in fact owns and maintains most Christian churches and allows them to be used for regular religious services. The same law that establishes state possession of religous edifices also prevents the state from building new ones, thus keeping the country's 4-5 million Muslims from enjoying the same privileges as Christians. Most French mosques are, as a consequence, ad hoc structures, not very different from storefront churches. Adding to the religious divide is that half the country's ten or so state-designated national holidays are Catholic in origin; no Muslim holiday has equivalent recognition.

"In Britain and France the state provides financial support for religious schools as long as they teach the national secular curriculum. Inevitably, these arrangements, while seemingly fair to all religions, favor the most established ones. In Britain (where, incidentally, senior Anglican bishops sit in the House of Lords by right as part of the Anglican "establishment") the government funds nearly 7,000 Church of England and Catholic schools but only five Islamic schools in a nation of 1.6 million Muslims. In the Netherlands the majority of children go to state-supported religious schools, nearly all Protestant and Catholic, while the country's estimated 1 million Muslims have only about thirty-five of their own publicly funded primary schools.

"The institutionalization of Christianity in Europe has played a role in the growth of Islamic fundamentalism, for it adds substantially to the barriers confronting second-generation Muslims trying to make their place in European societies. Young people born and raised in the West are not satisfied with the humble positions of their immigrant parents. Yet at the same time, because of the burdens of lower-class origins and racial, ethnic and religious discrimination, the children of Muslim immigrants generally do not have the same opportunities for educational and professional achievement as do those from the European majorities. This situation leads many to resort to Islam as a way of claiming dignity.

"The lessons of Europe's difficulties in integrating its Muslim population are clear. The US legacy of church-state separation has contributed mightily to our success in converting the children of immigrants into patriotic Americans. This is hardly the moment to abandon it" (Richard Alba and Nancy Foner. "Can It Happen Here?" The Nation, Oct. 17, 2005: 20-22).


European Institute 'to rival MIT'

"The EU unveiled plans to establish a rival to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The move reflects fears that academic standards are slipping and that Europe will no longer be able to compete with the US and emerging powers such as China and India" ("Roundup." Guardian Weekkly, Marc. 3, 2006: 2).


Colby Glass, MLIS