OneWorld | May 13, 2009
EU Policies Deepen Jobs Crisis
WASHINGTON, May 13 (OneWorld.net) - European free trade policies will continue to drive up job losses in the European Union and worldwide, said a British social justice group following an European Union summit to address the economic crisis’ impact on employment.
While politicians continue to promote free trade policies as a solution to the current economic crisis, the advocacy group War on Want argues trade liberalization has and will continue to put millions of people in both rich and poor countries out of work. "For decades, the EU has consistently pursued trade policies that have caused mass unemployment around the world and led us to financial meltdown," said Dave Tucker, trade campaign officer at War on Want. "Now European workers are feeling the impact of these free trade policies. The EU must wake up and refocus on the needs of European people, not its corporations." A new report by War on Want found that the current free trade model has been responsible for the elimination of tens of millions of jobs worldwide over the last 20 years. (See War on Want’s full statement below.)
– "We have to preserve free trade and competition," said Swedish Prime Minister Frederick Reinfeldt at the EU conference on unemployment and the financial crisis in Prague. "These are very important to our economy." Joblessness in the 27-member bloc is expected to rise by almost 10 percent this year, reports the Chinese news agency Xinhua, noting that the May 7 summit resulted in "10 concrete steps to protect and boost employment amid the global financial crisis." Specifically, "the actions [include] plans to keep as [many] people as possible in employment through temporary working hours adjustment, lowering non-wage labor costs, and improving the efficiency of national employment services."
– After the two world wars, most of Europe and Japan was economically devastated, while the United States, "which suffered less from the crippling effects of the wars, was economically dominant and was under pressure to open up its markets to other countries," writes BBC News in a guide to free trade. Subsequent international treaties — beginning with the 1948 General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) — began to reduce and abolish import taxes and other barriers to trade. In 1995, GATT was superceded by the World Trade Organization (WTO), which has a membership of 142 countries, with 28 additional nations waiting to join. According to War on Want, this easing of trade restrictions has pushed "down prices so [much] that local producers cannot survive," resulting in increasing poverty and unemployment worldwide. Meanwhile, adds the charity, "giant multinational companies see their profits rise year after year by taking over new markets and forcing their competitors out of business."
– "There is a democratic alternative to top-down economic globalization," says Global Exchange, a social justice organization promoting more equitable globalization. Click here to read more about Fair Trade and what Global Exchange calls an international economic model based on environmental, social, and economic sustainability.
’EU policies deepen jobs crisis’
From: War on Want
07 May 2009
NEWS HOOK: Thursday, 7 May 2009 European jobs summit, Prague
European leaders are today accused of promoting free market policies that will lead to more job losses in the EU and the rest of the world.
The accusation comes from the British charity War on Want, in response to an EU summit held in Prague today (Thursday, 7 May) that was supposed to tackle the impact of the global economic crisis on employment in Europe.
War on Want’s latest research, Trading Away Our Jobs, was the first-ever report to calculate the numbers of jobs lost globally in the wake of trade liberalisation and to analyse the impact of free trade on employment. The report highlights how free trade agreements have already caused tens of millions of job losses over the last 20 years.
War on Want trade campaigns officer, Dave Tucker, said: "For decades, the EU has consistently pursued trade policies that have caused mass unemployment around the world and led us to financial meltdown. Now European workers are feeling the impact of these free trade policies. The EU must wake up and refocus on the needs of European people, not its corporations."
During the free trade 1990s, the jobless in Latin America soared from 7.6 million to 18.1 million, with unemployment rises in Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela. Between the early 1990s and 2006, farming jobs in Mexico slumped from 8.1 million to around six million as a result of trade liberalisation. Now a third of all the region’s workers face insecure employment. The report says these same policies will also create millions of jobless people in Europe itself.
According to the charity, recent judgements by the European Court of Justice have also undermined fundamental workers’ rights, allowing companies to play workers from different countries off against each other.
The summit comes at a time when global unemployment is already rising fast, with the International Labour Organisation forecasting over 50 million more people worldwide could lose their jobs by the end of this year, and 200 million workers fall into extreme poverty. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development says that by next year jobless numbers in rich nations could rise by eight million.