How is one to uphold confidentiality on the one hand and transparency on the other, two such contrasting values in politics that are normally mutually exclusive? In the Brussels of the EU, it can be done. Political life there operates in the same way as in the German fairy-tale of Schilda, a village that once had to be re-built. However, it was only when their houses were finished that the villagers noticed that the architects had forgotten the windows. And so from then on they lived in the dark. But then the village head hit on an idea. They could carry the light from outside in buckets into the houses…
… and when the President of the EU Commission Jean-Claude Juncker handed his Commissioner for Trade, the Swede Cecilia Malmström, his mission letter, he wrote to her on page 4: “You will have seen, that the Political Guidelines include a new commitment to transparency. Transparency should be priority for the new Commission and I expect all of us to make public, on our respective web pages, all the contacts and meetings we hold with professional organizations or self-employed individuals (Lobbyists?) on any matter relating to EU policy-making and implementation…“
The light that Juncker wants Malmström to carry into the darkness of the European house really is needed, in buckets. As, true to the contradictions of the EU, the TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) is being negotiated without consulting the people, there is a lot of darkness in the European house. Because where there’s not supposed to be any light, there also must not be any. Are the people supposed to be stupid and not allowed to assume political responsibility under any circumstances? The negotiations between the EU and the USA are so secret that some of the details are not even known to our parliamentarians, who will have to vote on the agreement. The results of the 10th round of negotiations may only be viewed in the EU reading room in Brussels itself, or at the American Embassy in Lisbon, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. till noon. Mobile phones have to be handed over to the doorman. The question that remains to be answered is, when will some light finally flood through our European house?
Our Europe must be constructed differently. Secretiveness and transparency simply do not go together, in the same way as free world trade and local production with regional trade are mutually exclusive. The contrasts could not be greater. The mentality of old men from yesterday collides with a younger mentality with ideas about sustainability. More and more pointless transportation of goods on the oceans between the USA and Europe (read our report that takes stock of the situation on the oceans) also adds to the global greenhouse effect and climate change. Since the financial crisis, the free market has shown again and again that our global economic system rests on rotten foundations.
The resources of our earth are not sufficient for unlimited economic growth. The rubbish tips are growing, the CO² in the atmosphere is warming our climate in an unbearable manner. The way in which we do business, in which we live and consume, in which we travel and transport, is up for discussion. People who are already rich get richer and those who are poor get poorer. Europe must strengthen its local and traditional economy and make it viable for the future. It is a discussion about the values of a new ethic. For that reason, ECO123 puts the values that create local production and regional trade at the heart of its journalistic work. On this occasion, our colleague Daniela Guerreiro reports on the local production of cheese, honey and medronho brandy from Monchique and the Algarve for the other regions in Portugal.