A Common Position on combating terrorism adopted by the Council of the EU on 27 December last year will oblige EU member states

18th January, 2001

EU’s “war on terrorism”: all refugees and asylum-seekers to be vetted

For a fuller report see this website

Research carried out by a number national organisations in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has shown that fishing agreement between rich countries, including the EU, and poorer regions invariably benefit the former at the expense of local fishermen, environmental damage and the depletion of native fish stocks. The studies show that these costs far outweigh the short term financial gains generated from foreign governments and fleets.

The findings, part of UNEP's work on trade liberalisation and subsidies, have come from studies in Argentina and Senegal where EU and other foreign fleets have, in recent years, been given access to those countries' coastal waters.

Klaus Toepfer, UNEP's Executive Director, said: "Fish stocks in many parts of the world are suffering as too many, often heavily subsidized, vessels chase a dwindling number of fish. Some developing countries with reasonably healthy levels of stocks have, in their search for foreign, external, earnings needed to pay off debts and to stimulate economic growth, entered into fishing agreements which allow foreign fleets into their waters. But our research indicates that, unless strict safeguards are in place, this can be a costly mistake".

Mr Toepfer welcomed EU fisheries ministers agreement to make deep cuts in catch quotas, but warned against “exporting over capacity to the waters of developing countries,” pointing out that "Many local people rely on fish for their livelihoods and as a key source protein needed for health and well being. Over exploitation by foreign fleets can drive these people into ever greater poverty as well as robbing the marine environment of a key link in the food chain upon which creatures like whales, dolphins and seals depend."

Argentina’s agreements with the EU not only gave European boats access to Argentinean waters, but also set up joint-ventures with companies in receipt of EU subsidies. Temporary fishing licenses were also granted to other foreign fleets.  The impacts, both environmental and socio-economic, have been stark, the UNEP-commissioned study has found.

Initially, exports grew almost fivefold 1985 and 1995 as the number of fish caught mushroomed. However the catch has fallen dramatically as a result of over-exploitation of key stocks.

The study also notes that local, mainly small-scale, fishermen with traditional boats have suffered as a result of the influx of large, factory-style, vessels mostly from European and Asian countries whose capacity increased five fold between 1990 and 1995. The report estimates that the cost to the economy of the current, unsustainable fishing of one species alone- hake- has cost Argentina $500 million. It suggests that a better managed fishery could benefit the economy by as much as $5 billion.

Senegal began a major export of fish to the European market in the late 1980s. Two thirds of its export revenues now come from fish exports to Europe. This growth was driven by a series of trade-related actions and agreements which favoured such trade. These included the Lomé Agreements, a series of trade accords between the EU and developing countries in the ACP group, most of which are relatively recently independent nations which were colonies of countries now in the EU. Senegal, once part of France’s extensive African empire, made a deal which allowed it to export fish products into the European Union free of customs charges and on the back of and a substantial. The trade was also boosted by a 50% devaluation in the Senegalese Franc.

The arrangement devastated key fish stocks, especially those deep-living, coastal species, favoured by European consumers. The switching of the local Senegalese fishing effort to export species has also had a serious impact on local food supplies.

The sharp decline in some stocks is also due to the massive wastage of the fish caught. Instead of developing modern, fish processing, factories existing, old-fashioned ones, were merely expanded. The EU had no interest in enabling Senegal to develop a modern industry capable of competing with its own, so it concentrated on encouraging the export of raw fish rather than processed products. This is just one of the issues which led to the recent breakdown in talks between Senegal and the EU. The African country is insisting on extending the area reserved exclusively to its own fishing fleet. The EU, determined to continue the state of plunder which has characterised Europe’s relationship with Africa for at least four centuries, refuses to countenance anything so radical as allowing people, some of whom are underfed and most of whom are poor, to keep their own major source of protein.

A synthesis report, which includes the country studies on Argentina and Senegal, can be found at this website The full report of which this forms part, entitled Economic Reforms, Trade Liberalization and the Environment can be found at this website

EP tries to strengthen toothless environment programme

The European Parliament this week voted in favour of a number of measures to strengthen proposals for the Sixth Community Environment Action Programme. The proposed programme from the European Commission had been criticised on all sides, with the right-wing Liberal group and the increasingly middle-of-the-road Greens both opposing it outright. Criticism centred particularly on the proposed Programme’s lack of definite dates and targets.

The Finnish social democrat Rapporteur (the Member charged with drawing up the Parliament’s proposed amendments), however, preferred to try to work to improve the text, a strategy which won abroad majority support.

Speaking in a debate on the measure, the Rapporteur, Riitta Myller said "The European Union needs to set the highest possible environmental targets  in order to avoid environmental threats in the future. Measurable targets for the reduction of  greenhouse gas emissions, noise and the quantity of waste have been the subject of much discussion. However, they are necessary if we are to have effective legislation…Environmentally harmful subsidies should be eliminated by the year 2010."

Jonas Sjöstedt of the Swedish Left Party and spokesperson on the environment for the United Left Group, said that his group was strongly critical of the proposed programme but felt that voting against it would be “irresponsible. It could mean no Environment programme at all, which would be particularly critical for the applicant countries.” Central and Eastern European states applying to join the EU face enormous environmental problems and need all the help they can get, which above all means money.

Attacking attempts by the right-wing European People’s Party group, the EP’s biggest, to weaken even further the Commission’s inadequate proposals, Mr Sjöstedt accused them of “trying to remove all content from the programme. It’s good to have an Environment Programme, but it’s really quite striking how the right tried to wreck whatever effective content it had.”

Inger Schörling of the Swedish Green Party, who disagreed with the Green group’s attempt to prevent the Programme from being adopted, said that “The 6th Environmental Action Programme should form the basis of an ambitious environmental legislation for the next decade, so that it really merits label of ‘environmental cornerstone’”. Ms Schörling supported a series of amendments which added some teeth to the embarrassingly naked gums of the Commission text.  Amongst other changes, the amendments called for the establishment of target dates for the elimination of environmentally harmful subsidies, for a series of measures to combat air pollution and global warming, with target emission levels and dates, and for reduction in waste volume and the elimination of harmful chemicals from production processes and the environment.

The Parliament’s amendments will now be the subject of a so-called “Conciliation Procedure”, where attempts will be made to find agreement between the EP and the EU Council, the body which directly represents the member states.

The full text of the adopted report, with links to the Commission’s proposal, will be added to the EP website here in the next few days.

The US government has vetoed a request by British magazine Statewatch to the Council of the European Union (the 15 EU governments) for access to copies of the agendas of the "Senior Level Group" and the "EU-US Task Force". The Council has says it has no option but to deny access. The agendas cover a wide range of global issues including policing and immigration, trade and aid.

Commenting on the secret agendas, Statewatch editor Tony Bunyan said  "This decision confirms our worst fears on the implementation of the new Regulation on public access to EU documents, namely that third states or organisations will have an absolute right to veto access by EU citizens to documents which third parties have authored, or co-authored, and which are the basis of, or an influence on, EU decision-making. If this decision stands it will remove whole swathes of documents from public scrutiny on all aspects of international policy making and practice and yet again undermine democratic standards and accountability. We have lodged an appeal against the Council's decision and will, if necessary, take the issue to the European Ombudsman or the Court of Justice."

Although the Council itself has a record of refusing access to documents whenever it can get away with it, Statewatch’s battle for the public’s right to know is far from hopeless. In July last year - after a four year fight and two successful complaints to the European Ombudsman - Statewatch finally obtained the agendas of ten EU-US high-level planning meetings between September 1996 and February 1998.  Go to this website for more

Peace Campaigner Stays in Scotland

Danish peace campaigner Ulla Roder, whose actions against British nuclear weapons have been reported in previous Spectre Weekly News roundups, this week learned that the Home Office will not deport her from the UK.

Ms Roder, from Odense in Denmark, but currently living and campaigning with UK anti-war group Trident Ploughshares in Scotland, was recommended for deportation in October by Sheriff Fitzsimmons in Dumbarton Sheriff Court after being found guilty on six counts for anti-Trident actions. The Sheriff sent her to prison for three months and said: "I see every likelihood of you continuing to defy the law of this country and I therefore recommend that you be deported at the end of your sentence."

Trident Ploughshares campaigners saw the Sheriff's recommendation as disproportionate and politically motivated and have welcomed the Home Office decision, especially in the light of concerns that new anti-terrorism legislation might be used against peaceful campaigners like Ulla, who have been upholding international law.  This legislation forms part of a concerted European Union campaign to attack the civil right to demonstrate peacefully and to travel across borders to do so.

Ulla herself is delighted. She said: "This is a great relief and I can now start working again to disarm Britain's weapons of mass destruction."

Roder is one of the Trident Three, famously acquitted after disarming a Trident-related research barge in Loch Goil in 1999. In April last year she swam to Trident submarine HMS Vengeance in its "high security" berth in Faslane and spray-painted "USELESS" on its hull. In October/November she served a month in Cornton Vale Prison for anti-Trident actions before going to the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm to receive, on behalf of the Trident Ploughshares campaign, the Right Livelihood Award, otherwise known as “The Alternative Nobel Prize”.

Trident Ploughshares’ website is at this website

Mark Barnsley Benefit CD - "One law for them, another one for us"

The Mark Barnsley campaign, about which you can read on our Action page, has produced a 22-track benefit CD to raise funds for the campaign. Including postage and packing it's only £7 in the UK, £8 for Europe and £9 for the rest of the world. Mark's tirelessly campaigning friends ask you to please send your name, address and cheque/postal order/IMO/well-concealed cash in pounds sterling to 'JUSTICE FOR MARK BARNSLEY', PO BOX 381 Huddersfield, HD1 3XX, England  Write to JoeBlackRecords@aol.com for more information about the CD, and check out the campaign's website here

US radical AV producer JusticeVision is offering an 8-hour videotape of America's leading progressive thinkers discssing US foreign policy and contemporary events. Tape is available for a ludicrously cheap for $5 in the US, and copies are available to overseas readers for $5 plus the extra postage. We suggest $10 would cover it for most parts of the world, and the video is clearly a bargain at that price. However, the makers will deliver the videotape pre-payment with invoice, so what you could do is send $5 plus whatever the stamps show was the cost. Catch for readers outside the US is that you need access to the NTSC (US) video system. Ralph, of  JusticeVision, will soon be able to make PAL-compatible copies, but will need to charge $20 to cover the extra cost.

Tape includes Noam Chomsky, Michael Parenti, Howard Zinn, and Ralph Nader, all speaking at public events held since the 9/11 attacks. Also included is Mumia Abu Jamal's new lawyer Elliot Grossman on recent developments in Mumia's case.

You can also subscribe to the video series of which this is the latest example, or an audio series, Change for a Buck, which as the name hints gives you 90-minute audiocassettes for a dollar each.  For more information email: Democracyu@aol.com

Green Left Weekly

The latest issue of Australia’s socialist newspaper focuses on the recent dramatic events in Argentina.  More on Bush’s war, Kashmir, Indonesia, and the fight against electricity privatisation in Mexico. Plus outstanding coverage of Australian affairs. Like Spectre, GLW updates its website weekly. Go to this website

Finally, happy holiday Monday, Martin Luther King Day, to all our US readers

"When machines and computers, profit and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered."

Declaration of Independence From the War in Vietnam, Riverside Church speech, 4/4/67.

This was the last speech Dr King made before his murder.  The text of many of his speeches can be found at this website