Ben Hayes, Praful Bidwai, Susan George, Walden Bello
29 September 2010
Ahead of the Asia Europe People's Forum (AEPF) which coincides with the official ASEM8 summit this year in Brussels, four TNI scholar-activists - Susan George, Praful Bidwai, Ben Hayes and Walden Bello - discuss some of the key struggles facing citizens from both regions.
The AEPF this year in Brussels brought together citizens for dialogue, solidarity and action, as a platform from which to oppose corporate-dominated, undemocratic and neoliberal responses to ongoing crises.
The EU's announced fund of 40 million Euros to support “non-profit partnerships” of water and sanitation utilities in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific is the latest evidence that the corporate push for water privatisation has been forced on to the back foot.
As images of Pakistan coping with the crisis and of its destitute people were being shown on European television, a French air force helicopter was transporting the richest man in Pakistan to his most extravagant European property, a 16th century chateau.
The ideological reasoning behind UK government policies is that the market is the only way to make public services 'efficient'. Isn't it time we talked about social efficiency, maximising public benefit rather than maximising profit?
Behind the deaths, military repression and violence that has flared up on the streets of Bangkok lies another story of a country following the dictates of the IMF and the markets, which increased inequalities and unemployment for many Thais and created the resentment that will continue to fuel conflict in Thailand.
Despite repeated democratic rejection of the Lisbon Treaty, the European Commission pushed ahead with it via the EU Constitution via a private, technocratic and non-democratic process. Susan discussed the treaty and its implications in a workshop at the EA4 summit in Madrid, 15 May 2010.
Elena Kagan's use of the state secrets privilege to dismiss the case of a German citizen, who was kidnapped and tortured by the CIA, should be a cause for major concern over her recent nomination by President Obama to the US Supreme Court.
What we saw in the UK election campaign and the recent coalition deal is the level of opportunism amongst the political parties, and the real absence of politics and ideas on how to deal with major crises in the economy, over climate change and of our political institutions.