GREENPEACE vs. TOXIC POLICIES & LEADERS

donald trump tweet global warming

In an interview, the Campaigns Manager of Greenpeace Spain argues how Trump’s administration represents a threat to the progress that has been made in terms of gender and ethnic equality, and for sure: global warming. 

“Because environment is not isolated”

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María José Caballero,  Campaigns Manager of GP SPAIN and volunteer.

 

Maria José Caballero, Campaigns Manager of Greenpeace Spain has been almost 10 years working in this great NGO. Graduated as a biologist by the Universidad Complutense de Madrid and then specialized in Management of NGO’s by ESADE, it’s pretty clear the profile of professional and conscious person she wanted to be: a volunteer.

I feel so grateful about how comfortable she made me feel, the interview turned into a close conversation. I’ve learned so many things thanks to this great woman in such a short time! She showed being an expert on international affairs because -among other things.- I had not even warned about my visit.

We started talking about her current projects, in order to understand deeply what are her functions in the core of the NGO.  In fact, she and her team are working on the “Break Free from Fossil Fuels” international campaign. And many others such as the Artic and Amazonas Projects; also they are working on national issues as the bees affected by insecticides with neonicotinoids and the help to the artisanal fishermen. The women as one of the main collectives affected by climate change also play an important role in their agenda-setting.

“Environment is not isolated, we fight for reach a fair society passing through people rights to climate protection” she said. Apparently, both of them with nothing in common. The thing is that the ecosystem needs to be carefully protected by institutions: the water we drink, the food we eat, the air we breathe, the jobs we keep in order to survive, the home where we rest… and this is the aim of Greenpeace, rebuild an environment corrupted by corporations that, protected by states, destroys our ecosystems where human being, fauna, and flora must be keeping in balance. “We are living in a globalized world where the rules of the market are being imposed” she complained.

Related to “the water we drink”,  M. J. Caballero remind the situation living by the population along to the threatening pipelines of Keyston XL and Dakota. That last one, is feared because of the tribe’s water supply could be in danger and it also desecrated sacred lands. She said they and the population -without under the brand of Green Peace.- have stopped temporarily the construction of that pipeline. They are clearly more than social denouncement. They achieve real merits with real action.

resistAfter dissertation, I cut straight to the point, inquiring her about the “RESIST” banner by GREENPEACE USA in front of the White House and the consequent idea of political positioning or political lobbying that could be understood, she answered that Trump’s assumptions are totally against to the goals of the NGO and GP as a movement that pretends bring the power back to the people, they just pretend to protect the society from the threat that is living in their government by encouraging people. “We believe in a diversity world, far from xenophobia, racism, and sexism, and we are absolutely independent of political parties, nor ideologically neither economically speaking .” Obviously is the essence of any NGO being totally impartial in order to defend public interests, that specific topics states tend to avoid or forget.

Surprisingly, sometimes political parties and GP defend same laws reinforcements or paralyze them at international cooperation scenarios…

Protest ahead of Vote on EU-Canada Trade Deal at EU Parliament in Strasbourg


Action of GP while is approving CETA in the EuropeanParliament (Strasbourg)

…but with different intentions. Is the case of CETA agreement that was positively voted in European Parliament the past 15 of February. Between its opposition were Podemos, Marie Le Pen, and Los Verdes, for instance. Some because of their populist way to work and the achievement of their isolation aspirations; some others because of real worries about people and dangerous environment which is involved. And some, for the combination of both of those.

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The label of any product

CETA is a new ‘toxic’ trade agreement between EU and Canada that allows the free exportation between its territories. Why is it ‘toxic’? Easy. It would be toxic for our European democracy which has restrictive politics about toxic elements of hormone foods and its labels (“If they take away from us the capacity to choose freely, what’s left?” warned M. J. Caballero), not to mention the specific Tribunal that is pretending to implement to judge harmful reports to that trade individually from European and national laws from the Member States; or the dismissing of employees, taking into account that a lot of current European trade of food are producers from our borders.

While we were discussing these topics, we realized that she was running out of time, and I didn’t want to obstacle the key role that she means in the team of Campaigns with such an important work to do in this shocking scenario. So we said goodbye at the shout of:

“The fight continues!”

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María José Caballero being interviewed by student Alba Tissera at the headquarter of GP in San Bernardo,107, Madrid.

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The Transatlantic Treaty

It’s been a few months we hear about the Transatlantic treaty and negotiations are at stake but many people wonder if this treaty is good for the European Union.

The creation of a single European economic space based on a common market was at the outset, the key objective of the Treaty of Rome. By establishing a common market and progressively approximating the economic policies of the Member States, the Community aims to promote harmonious development of economic activities. But, these things can be transformed with the arrival of several reforms about the Transatlantic Treaty. It is a treaty of free trade currently still in negotiation since July 2013 between the European Union and the United States. It aims to lower customs duty but no only, it also regularizes trade barriers. This treaty is the subject of many critics, we think that it is not appropriate for the European market and it is very difficult to understand the treaty as a whole.

Indeed, little understanding on the part of several experts about this treaty could remind us the debates of the European constitution. In our time, when euroscepticism increases, the transatlantic treaty is not adequate because it can favor the ascent of the populism. So, the Europeans will feel betrayed and the European elites will be denounced because they are always the ones who make the decisions. This is what happens in Greece with the election of Alexis Tsipras, member of the radical left coalition known as Syriza.

Moreover, the idea of opening a new market between us and European Union is very present. But the question is to know if it is really useful, and if it is going to be a success. The process of creating a new market and creating a new area is already complicated in Europe. For the first time, the European Union has to face an economic crisis. This idea of a united continent is already hard to achieve, and maybe this treaty of the European Union with another continent. Before having negotiations with the US, Europe has to solve its own problem if we cannot be sure that there are no inconvenient to this treaty.

To finish, there is a risk modify, but also to deregulate the economies of the two continents, and especially Europe. These continents don’t have the same economic model. Lots of experts put forward that this treaty was influenced by the big companies. It will allow big corporations to sue governments before secretive arbitration panels composed of corporate lawyers. We can observe this phenomenon in Australia, the country is sued by the company PhilipMorris. This idea of “secretive” is very risky for the European Union. It is already a complex economic system, and it would be dangerous to make it more opaque.

In conclusion, the Transatlantic treaty is not good for Europe because it will foster euroscepticism, the situation may become even more critical and companies will have powers that can be dangerous for consumers.

Inside the European Parliament

On monday the 9th of June, I had the pleasure to interview such an important person in Spain as Mr. Ignacio Samper, as he is the director of the office in Spain of the European Parliament. This interview mainly consisted in questions about the European Parliament and many concerns that many people do not know about it such as issues such as future goals, Turkey or immigration.

To start the interview, I found appopiate to start asking him why was it important to have an European Parliament office in Spain. Mr. Samper explained to me that “there are offices all around the world in order to inform citizens, media and institutions about the activity and functions of the Parliament”.

As many people didn’t know what they actually voted for on the past elections, held on the 25th of May of this year, I had to ask him about the Parliament and its actual functions and why are they so important. He responded with a very detailed answer; “The EU Parliament that validates the ligitimity of the European Union and makes possible the effective participation of the citizens in the process of the European integration”. In addition, due to how the Parliament also decide in nearly all the issues that are within the European Union, those where the reasons why the past elections where different to others; they were going to be the first elections after the Lisbon Treaty which alloed the members of the Parliamente vote for the president of the Comission.

To continue explaining me about the functions of the Parliament, he also explained to me what the members do in the Parliamente is “debate, vote, propose amendments and finally approve or reject norms. The last legislature, the were more than 20.000 votes and more than 2.500 texts where approved were 952 were legislative texts” and the reason some countries send more members than others is due to the reason that the numbers of members sent by a country must be equivalent to the size of their population as the Parliament represent the citizens, not the nations.

Moving to more controversial questions which have been alive for many years, I decided to ask Mr. Samper about Turkey and immigration respectively. To start of, I asked him if Turkey was still interested in joining the Union and why and what do they have to do be part of it. He explained to me that “Turkey is one of the 5 candidate countries in joining the Union. It is important to explain that to join the UE, the country must fulfil the Copenhague criterias, which establish a mínimum of requirements not only economic, but also political and legal, the existence of stable institutions which guarantee the democracy, the state of Rights and human rights”.

About immigration he explained to me that after what is happening in southern European countries, there’s a necessity to approach an immigration policy from a paneuropean point of view. The Parliament has played a very important role in a very complex issue which is to get legal immigrants an equal treatment within the employment and economic areas. The Parliament have also decided to establish a “Common European Borders Supervision (Eurosur) in order for the member states are better equipped when they have to prevent and combat ilegal immigration and react more quickly when the immigrants life are in danger”.

To conclude with this interview, I thought it would be good to end it with Mr. Samper explaining the economic objectives of the Union for this and next year. The explained that the main objective was to overcome the recession and to reduce the unemployment rate. “The EU wants to increase to a 75% in 2020 the employment rate of European population between 20 and 64 years. The Parliament has adopted numerous anti-recession measures in the past years in order to get Europe back to the path of growth and employment, such as the approval of a budget of 80.000 million of euros for a Social European Budget for 2014 to 2020, which objective is to promote employment, improve productivity and work quality, increase the mobility and impulse the social inclusion.”

This interview to Mr. Samper has allowed me to get fully detailed answers about doubts I had about the parliament and will allow all European and non-European citizens to know how important the European Parliament is, what their functions are and how important it is for each citizen to contribute to make Europe a better place to live in.

Alberto Puente Saavedra

Does Croatia really want to enter European Union?

Written By Sean Farrell, Joe Wood, Saskia Schink, Sergio Serrano Perez and Roman Koshivka.

Only one fifth of the citizens able to vote on the election of twelve representatives to European Parliament actually did so. According to the latest results the opposition party has got most of votes. That leads to the question, what is the nation’s real attitude towards European Union Membership?

The population of Croatia stands at around 4.4 million, which means fewer than one million, gave their votes during this election. The topic of joining EU is considered as very important by both European Parliament and by the government of Croatia. Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic stated that the election has a historical significance and that joining the European Community will serve as the base for making big social and economic reforms.  However, the citizens are not as convinced about membership as could be expected as shown by the fact that only 20.8% of voters cast their vote.

One of the possible factors of such a low turnout at the voting stations is that the election campaign only lasted for three weeks and was very soft, most of the citizens were not exposed enough to it to be influenced by it (EU Observer). Another possible reason is that that the selected representatives are only going to be working at the European Parliament for one year, as the reelection is set to be held in each of the EU member states in 2014. “I hope that the impending accession of Croatia to the EU and the work of the country’s newly elected representatives will increase voters’ participation in next years’ elections” said Hannes Swoboda, Chairman of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament. Additionally, he congratulated the Social Democratic Party (SDP) which has the largest number of voters and is now considered as the opposition party in Croatia.

The most important factor is that people do not see joining the European Union as a significant and necessary step for improving the situation in the country.  The BBC’s journalist Guy De Lancey said that “the topic of EU entry was a matter of national pride to Croatians in previous years, but now they start understand that it does not automatically mean that the situation in the state will rapidly change”.  As an example he refers to Slovenia which joined the European Union nine years ago. The unemployment rate is continuing to grow and Croatia is still facing economic problems that arose during the crisis in 2009. Such matters take primary importance for the citizens as opposed to more and more election, from which they are tired in general, after holding a referendum about joining the European Union only one year ago. Talking about the low numbers, the SDP’s Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic said in the local Jutarnji List daily that “We will have to reflect why people are deaf to these choices.” One local citizen Dubravka Simac told AFP news “I back EU entry … but our incapable politicians are not worth my effort of going to a polling station,”

In 2012, 66% of citizens voted in favour of joining the EU. Croatia is going to enter the EU and become the 28th member state on 1st July 2013 and the second country from the former Yugoslavia after Slovenia in 2004.

Despite Croatia’s imminent admission to the EU, it seems certain, that the people are uncertain, as to whether this is the road to stability.

The EP calls on Switzerland to cancel your veto ‘illegal’ to Europeans

By Isidoro Arriola, Rafael Lopez, Alejandra Rojo and Patricia Martínez.

The European Parliament on Thursday urged the Swiss government to reverse the decision “discriminatory and illegal” you have taken in imposing fees for residence permits long-term citizens from eight European countries.

In a resolution adopted with 486 votes in favor, 30 against and 27 abstentions, the European Parliament “deeply regrets” the restoration in Switzerland quota restricting the free movement of citizens, in this case from Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia , Slovenia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary.

The measure is “discriminatory and illegal,” MEPs consider as it is directed against European citizens based on their nationality and has no legal basis under existing agreements between the EU and Switzerland.
MEPs have expressed concern that the Swiss government is considering imposing more restrictive measures and believe that the EU and the Helvetic

Confederation should enhance cooperation to facilitate the free movement of persons.

The European Parliament has asked the European Commission to address this issue urgently with the Swiss government.

On the other hand, MEPs reiterate their concern that Switzerland’s refusal to allow German and Austrian taxis pick up passengers at Swiss airports and ask the Commission to verify whether this measure is consistent with the agreement signed between the EU and Switzerland in 1999.

The European Parliament request to Venezuela to remain in the IACHR to avoid isolation

The European Parliament urged Venezuela to reconsider its plan to withdraw from the Inter-American Commission on Human Right (IACHR), noting that this could lead the country out of isolation and a “further deterioration” of its record on human rights.

The European Parliament adopted a resolution to that effect by 37 votes in favor, 17 against and 4 abstentions, in the final session in which many MEPs had already left Strasbourg (France), which hosted the plenary.

The document encourages the Government of Venezuela and all other states in the region to “recognize and enforce” the decisions and recommendations of the IACHR to cooperate with regional and international mechanisms of human rights, and urges them to “not take any action that may weaken the protection of human rights”.

MEPs also called on countries that have not yet acceded to the Inter-American Human Rights System “to do so as quickly and fully participate in the same”.

Parliamentarians urged Venezuela to meet the international charters and conventions and regional bodies of which is a signatory.

In this context, considered the decision of the legislative and judicial branches of Venezuela to support the proposal of its president, Hugo Chavez, to withdraw the country from the IACHR, “highlights the failure of the principle of separation of powers in that country and the absolute submission of the legislative and judicial policy decisions of the president.”

In the debate preceding the vote, the Belgian Socialist MEP Veronique De Keyser said that not all members of the Organization of American States (OAS) are members of the IACHR, and cited the example of the United States and Canada.

Although both countries are party to the OAS, has never ratified the American Convention on Human Rights, the main law of the IACHR governed by 25 countries.

However, both countries have to fulfil the obligations that are subject to and are evaluated by the IACHR for having signed the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man.

Liberal Romanian MEP Renate Weber, meanwhile, denied that a country intends to leave the IACHR “when its resolutions are not convenient,” while the Spanish Socialist Maria Muñiz insisted that it was time to “strengthen the institution” and ask the accession of the States of the OAS that have not yet joined it.

In contrast, the Spanish United Left MEP Willy Meyer, said in a statement that the resolution is an “interference of the European right, it decides to adopt this resolution trying to delegitimize the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in the process towards elections presidential election the month of October. ”

Hugo Chavez announced last month that it has asked the Council of State to prepare arguments to realize their desire to bring the country out of the IACHR, an autonomous organ of the OAS-, accusing it of being “a mechanism” that the U.S. “used “against his country.

Specifically, Venezuela has repeatedly accused the IAHR be biased against him and, since 2002, has denied requests from the Commission to visit the country, considering even supported the attempted coup against the Chavez government in April of that year.

By: Isabel Rivero, Olga Conde, Victoria Gerbaudo & Estefanía Sánchez.