“After Brussels had taken control, the electricity market in the EU was ‘liberalised’; it was ‘freed’ from state regulations and opened up to the international financial markets. ‘The expanding electricity trade does not lag behind (is in no way inferior to) the financial markets, which have meanwhile fallen into disrepute’”
The EU likes its role as an advocate of freedom. It never tires of praising its four “fundamental freedoms” as the basis of its “community of values” and of democracy in general. The free movement of goods, persons, services and capital is the best way to achieve prosperity, freedom and democracy everywhere, no state should protect “free trade” from foreign competition by laws and measures to protect its own economy, and there is no alternative to this, that is their credo. But who really benefits from these freedoms? And what is the reality today?
To illustrate the reality, an example from the field of electricity trading is suitable: electricity could be traded freely in Europe until 2009. In 1951, responsible personalities from the ranks of power plant operators and delegates from the ministries of seven European countries joined forces to form the Union for the Coordination of Generation and Transport of Electricity (UCPTE). “Long before it was believed that Europe had to be managed centrally from Brussels, the UCPTE had sought and achieved the integration of the European electricity grids into an interconnected grid in free and voluntary cooperation under the aspects of reliability, security and economic efficiency of electricity supply,” writes Ernst Pauli in Current Concerns No 16 of 6 May 2013 [CC_20130506_16_1-3.pdf]. The work was based on a feeling of great responsibility, mutual trust and cooperation and not on the pursuit of profit, and it was free of political demands.
After Brussels had taken control, the electricity market in the EU was “liberalised”; it was “freed” from state regulations and opened up to the international financial markets. “The expanding electricity trade does not lag behind (is in no way inferior to) the financial markets, which have meanwhile fallen into disrepute”, writes Pauli. The “traded” electricity volume is 10 times higher than the physically available electricity. “Depending on the progress of the market opening, one kilowatt hour goes from production via transport to the end consumer through up to ten hands. Banks, hedge funds and other competitors from outside the industry are increasingly pushing their way into the electricity business”.
At present, the EU is making an electricity agreement with Switzerland dependent on the signing of an institutional framework agreement in which Switzerland would have to commit itself to automatically adopting existing and future EU law. Such a requirement is not only undemocratic but also incompatible with the Swiss Federal Constitution.
The electricity agreement itself serves exclusively to open up the Swiss electricity market to international suppliers and not to secure electricity supplies. On the contrary: under EU law, investors of all kinds could also buy up and close regional small power plants in Switzerland that had been co-financed by cantons and municipalities, which would massively increase the dependence on foreign countries. Securing the electricity supply requires experts - technicians and engineers - and not politically motivated adhesion contracts.
The EU is behaving like an agency to enforce global financial and power interests. Critics are defamed as opponents of freedom and democracy and as a rule marginalised as right-wing. Countries that deviate from the tightly neoliberal course are sanctioned. Freedom ends where the freedom of the financial markets could be restricted.
The promised prosperity is limited to rich countries, and even in these countries the gap between rich and poor is widening.
And democracy suffers from the intolerance of neoliberally colored administrative bureaucrats who are strongly supported in their intolerance by the media of the financial markets.
The neoliberal world order was made by human persons and can therefore also be changed by human persons. It is not without any alternative. •
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