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Schuman Project

David Heilbron Price


31 March 2008

Personal to

Mr Luc Van den Brande

President, European Committee of Regions

                 Corruption/cartel problem in Lisbon Treaty draft 

Dear President Van den Brande,

At your inauguration as President on 6 February 2008, you emphasized that the Committee of Regions is an independent institution in a European Community of values. We must jettison the idea of Europe as a hierarchy, you said.

When we spoke in the Berlaymont press room the next day, I asked you whether the CoR, as one of the independent institutions designated in the treaties, would publish a consolidated version of the Treaty of Lisbon and with a full commentary. So far the Council has refused to do so. You said that you would give warm consideration to the idea.

I would like to ask you what are the results of your reflection. I believe that the publication of a readable version of any Treaty purporting to change the European governance system is an urgent and primary necessity. What nation or group of nations has ever been asked to agree to a governance document that people are not allowed read? What democratic administration has ever refused to provide a readable copy of the chief document about how a democracy is supposed to work?

Further, I would like to ask you to encourage an in-depth analysis by specialist sub-committees of the hazardous innovations of the Lisbon Treaty. This treaty will greatly reduce the Community’s anti-cartel powers. The European Parliament’s power to dismiss the Commission will be lost forever in all practical terms. The new, politicized Commission itself will be chosen from a party list and elected on the basis of the ideological majority in Parliament. The unforeseen consequences of this retrograde step are enormous. Democracy itself is under threat.

Schuman and the other founding fathers specified that the Commission, made up of experienced, wise Europeans with proven independence of mind, should be impartial and completely independent of sectional interests: labour, political parties, business or any other. The Commission’s duty was to seek out European values, the common good and defend all European interests. The Commission is the guardian of the treaties encapsulating these European values, not a guardian of any ideology.

The rôle of the Consultative Committees was designed to ensure that no regional, economic or social interest was neglected or abused. They are therefore completely independent in the performance of their duties in the interest of the Community” (articles 258, 263, Nice Treaty). The reason for this was that for a century or more the cartels had, via their strong manipulation of the media, finance and political parties, assured that their own selfish interests predominated. Such greed in the coal, steel and armaments industries led to wars. The names of Krupp, Thyssen (book: “I paid Hitler”), IG Farben, Vickers-Armstrong, Schneider and de Wendel are identified with this problem. Such firms created international cartel rings outside the reach of national legislation. The European Commission/High Authority became the world’s first, international anti-cartel agency. We have all benefited.

Today, we are faced with even more serious dangers. The present draft of the Lisbon Treaty, still not available in a readable form, is an open invitation to corruption. Cartels, including powerful multinationals, can easily subvert ALL major European party political systems or suborn party political secretariats to ‘go easy’ on cartel or trust operations. The whole European system of values can be distorted and corrupted.

The Commission recently fined one US multinational some 900 million euros, not for cartel illegalities but for refusing to obey a Commission anti-cartel decision plus a Court judgement to stop such illegalities. A fraction of this money could subvert any political party. If a highly respected US firm commits such bad behaviour, what are we to expect from mafia or drug money or the black economy which may involve a fifth of the world economy?

Europe is now in a very delicate position in relation to petroleum and gas supplies. Exporter States supplying gas in Europe and petroleum from the Middle East have massive sovereign wealth funds, amounting to some 2000 billion euros (2 trillion). What party political secretariat could resist the lure of such funds? Why, therefore, is the Lisbon Treaty returning to a system that failed many generations in political anarchy, blood, slavery, exterminations and war? The massive funds of competitor States, held and used in non-transparent ways, could be surreptitiously employed to foster self-serving economic, political or religious aims in opposition to the fair interests of our citizens. History shows they could be aimed at just plain corruption and extortion. This is no time to hamstring the independence and impartiality of the Commission, which has a proven track record of breaking cartels. All European citizens will suffer.

I am asking you, Mr. President, to give urgent, public attention to this serious flaw in the Lisbon treaty so our democratic institutions can eradicate it. A first step to this is to see that the Lisbon Treaty is published in a readable form with an in-depth analysis, and then is democratically discussed. I look to the Committee, as a key European institution, to fulfill its designated duty in the interests of all the Community.

Yours sincerely,

David H Price


Letter to Mr Pöttering, EP, Intelligent Citizen's Guide to Treaties


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