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1 June 2015 Edition

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Another Europe is possible – Treo eile don Eoraip

• GUE/NGL take part in a protest calling for more resources to save the lives of refugees in the Mediterranean

Funded by the European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL). Aontas Clé na hEorpa/Na Glasaigh Chlé Nordacha, Crúpa Paliminta – Parlaimimt na h Eorpa

No military response to Mediterranean refugee crisis

THE European Union’s response to the crisis of refugee deaths in the Mediterranean has been slammed by Martina Anderson, MEP for the North of Ireland and member of the Human Rights Committee in the European Parliament.

Following the drowning deaths of more of 800 asylum seekers in the Mediterranean Sea on 18-19 April, an emergency EU summit in Brussels outlined plans for a response. This included military action against Libya, where many of the refugee boats depart from.

Martina Anderson said that the goal of the EU’s response must be on saving lives within a humanitarian framework instead of one based on border security. Most refugee deaths take place on the high seas, outside of the EU Triton patrol programme’s operational area. While Triton can rescue stranded migrants, its main purpose is to prevent people from reaching Europe.

EU Foreign Ministers met again on 18 May to discuss a ‘package’ including a sea and air mission that could, in its later phases, destroy vessels – including by taking military action against Libya, where many of the boats depart from. The response may be launched by 25 June. 

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Martina Anderson

Martina Anderson said:

“Military action will not solve the humanitarian crisis where untold numbers of people, desperate to find a new life, are dying in the Mediterranean. 

“Instead of attempting to impose further military action which would further destabilise the region, the international community, and the European Union in particular, must step up its efforts to provide humanitarian aid to the survivors of these modern-day coffin ships and prevent further deaths.”

She added that not only would military action exacerbate the conditions that force refugees to flee their home countries in the first place – war, poverty and hunger – but they would directly target some of the most vulnerable people in the world for further repression. 

Right2Water discussed at conference in Greece

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Lynn Boylan 

DUBLIN MEP Lynn Boylan was one of the keynote speakers at an international water movement conference, ‘Water is a Common Good’, held in Thessaloniki, Greece, on 16-17 May. Lynn was speaking in her capacity as the lead author on the European Citizens’ Initiative Right2Water report to be voted on in the European Parliament in the coming months. 

Thessaloniki was the chosen venue for the conference to mark the one-year anniversary of the city’s referendum on the plans of the previous Greek Government to privatise water.

“Thessaloniki is to the fore of the struggle against the privatisation of water services,” Lynn Boylan said. “When the privatisation of water services was forced upon the region by the Troika there was broad resistance and a subsequent campaign successfully organised a popular referendum against water privatisation, which was emphatically passed.

“It has been a year since the referendum and this conference focused on water as a common good and how to properly manage this resource, as well as hearing accounts of international experiences of water movements.”

Lynn said the threat of privatisation of water services will be the next challenge facing Right2Water supporters. 

“Thessaloniki is an example of a region that successfully resisted privatisation and there is a lot to learn from them.”

The SYRIZA President of the national Greek Parliament, Zoi Konstantopoulou, pledged her support to ensure Greece becomes the first country to recognise and protect the human right to water.

Discussing the impact of her Right2Water report, Lynn Boylan said: 

“In my report, I draw attention to the fact that water provision is a natural monopoly which does not lend itself to market competition and where there has been privatisation of water ownership we have seen massive profits accumulated but little reinvestment into water infrastructure.”

The Dublin MEP has presented her report to the Environmental, Public Health and Food Safety Committee in the European Parliament, where it will be discussed and debated before proceeding to the plenary.

Scaling down investor-state mechanism won’t save TTIP

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Matt Carthy

IN RESPONSE to the massive public opposition to the EU entering the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement with the US, European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström presented a proposal on 6 May to water down the investor-state dispute mechanism (ISDS) included in the agreement.

Malmström’s paper outlines proposals to “institutionalise” the ISDS system by establishing a fixed list of arbitrators and creating a bilateral appeal mechanism modelled on the World Trade Organisation’s Appellate Body.

MEP for the Midlands North West Matt Carthy dismissed the paper, saying the illegitimacy of ISDS arbitration (in which three corporate lawyers decide whether elected governments should be forced to pay companies compensation for decisions made in the public interest) cannot be overcome by this superficial proposal.

Almost immediately, the US Under-Secretary for International Trade, Stefan Selig, flatly rejected Malmström’s proposal and insisted that the US wants to retain the ISDS system unchanged.

Matt Carthy said:

“ISDS fundamentally threatens sovereignty and democracy – it gives the powerful and elite of the corporate world access to legal remedies not available to citizens or their governments.

“The views of the people of Europe with respect to ISDS could not be clearer – 97% of all respondents in the largest-ever public consultation held by the European Commission have stated their complete opposition to the inclusion of an ISDS in TTIP.

“Instead of listening to the express wishes of the people and, more importantly, giving effect to those wishes, the Commissioner has instead proceeded to tinker around the edges of ISDS in a dogged effort to push this trade agreement through the European Parliament.

 “The European Commission has failed to understand the very clear and simple message that they have been given by the people – the people do not want ISDS to be reconfigured, they want it dropped.”

“The Irish Government must also realise that there is no advantage to be gained from supporting an ISDS mechanism.”

Step forward for Irish fishing communities in EU

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Liadh Ní Riada

IRELAND’S FISHING COMMUNITIES will benefit from a productive meeting held between Ireland South MEP Liadh Ní Riada and the European Commissioner for Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, on 20 May.

Liadh, Ireland’s only member of the Fisheries Committee in the European Parliament, requested the meeting to discuss the negative state of Irish fisheries, the existential threats to the livelihoods of native fishermen and women, and their marginalisation by the government and the EU. She outlined her proposal for a ‘Single Boat Payment’ scheme to be funded by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.

“It is unacceptable that Irish fishermen operating in Irish waters are at a massive disadvantage in comparison to other European fishermen both in terms of fishing opportunities and control and enforcement, especially within our own fisheries,” Liadh Ní Riada said.

“The situation has reached a crisis point. Unless we can come up with solutions, our fishermen will continue to suffer and decline.”

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• The Fisheries Commissioner has commended Liadh’s proposal and agreed it will help many hard-pressed fishermen

The Fisheries Commissioner has commended Liadh’s proposal and agreed that such a scheme will be beneficial to many hard-pressed fishermen and women and that it will be strongly considered by the European Commission.

Liadh said: 

“We have continuously highlighted the need for an introduction of a Single Boat Payment Scheme. 

“What is relevant to this issue is the Single Farm Payment which has helped lift the burden for many of the most vulnerable farmers in our agricultural industry. It is clearly logical to apply such a scheme to the fishing sector in the form of a Single Boat Payment system. There is no reason why this cannot be funded through the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.” 

“We welcome this breakthrough. A Single Boat Payment will go far in alleviating the hardship many Irish fishermen face.”

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