SENZA CENSURA n.6
Italy, october 2001

THE EUROMEDITERRANEAN FREE ExCHANGE ZONE

The New World Order implies that the great powerful countries oppose each other as economic blocs. Nowadays the areas of political and economic influence coincide much more than before. The USA have refined for years the economic and political tools in order to rule the world; new free exchange zones, such as NAFTA (linking Canada to Mexico) or FTTA (including any American nation with the exception of Cuba), have been created to trade with the peripheral countries.
Though everyone knows how the Export Processing Zones work in Asia or in the Eastern Atlantic coast, as it is manifest in the new mass protest movement, only few people realize how Europe is going to place herself in the New Order. Though acronyms such as NAFTA or FTTA are well known, the existence of FEZ is commonly ignored. Yet, the European Union has engaged for over five years in creating its own Free Exchange Zone (FEZ), that is to say a zone of economic and political influence in the Mediterranean area. If all the expected agreements are approved by 2010, the area will include the countries of the Union and also the twelve South and East Mediterranea countries: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Syria; Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, Palestinian Authority, Cyprus, Malta and Turkey. On the whole, it is going to be a large economic and political region gathering twenty seven countries. It afficially aims at reducing the gap between the North and South coast of the Mediterranean. This gap might be easily figured out and appreciated; a French is fourteen times richer than and Egyptian. France, Italy, Spain and Greece cover the 88% of the overall GIP (Gross Internal Product).
For the EU to establish an Euromediterranea zone of free exchange, is a very important investment which does not require major efforts. It requires the expenditure of the so called aids to the economic development which are no longer dependent on the GIP or the number of inhabitants, but on the accomplished liberist reforms. On the other hand, it implies supporting and legitimating the ruling Úlite which is often corrupted, dictatorial, disawowed by the people (between 1995 and 1999 3.424 billion of euros have been budgeted for the Mediterranean Non-European countries).
Integrating these countries in the FEZ will have many heavy consequences. It requires major economic changes, such as 1) the end of commercial priviledges and the cancellation, as requested by the WTO, of most custom duties for the European goods 2) the introduction of neoliberal economic policies, as suggested by the Structural Adjustment Plans already implemented by the World Bank and by the International Monetary Fund 3) a sensible cooperation in checking the migratory flow and the Islamic movement 4) the granting of political and security guarantees to the Union.
The new partnership's novelty, beyond the official rhetoric, is represented by the possibility for the European goods to access the foreign market. No positive changes are to be expected for the South and East Mediterranean countries: their goods have freely accessed the community market for years, while the agricultural products are still barred from the free exchange notwithstanding the non-European Mediterranean Countries' insistent demands. These countries will profit the FEZ, depending on the liberist transformation of their economic systems; this transformation implies the ability to attract considerable foreign investments and to actively compete in the market. This is the EU's, WB's and IFM's challinging goal; they urge an overall privatisation, a capacity to attract foreign investments (especially from the great multinationals), the ability to increase the competitiveness of wages through the freedom to sack workers and to put local labour out to tender. Instead of bringing about a crisis within the system of patronage and authoritarian powers, this policy provides the Úlite with new tools to control and repress any possible opposition. The constitution of FEZ reinforces the authoritarian approach to the social control. It might be easily seen that the globalization of liberism is at the base of economic changes, pressing the regimes to arm themselves against social discontent. People actually oppose the growing gap between the richness of the few and the extreme poverty of the majority; they are forced to live in an expanding environmental degradation, responsible for the birth of malformed babies in the vicinity of many Moroccan factories.
The FEZ impose the non-European Mediterranean Countries to opening their frontiers to the competitive and high quality European goods, which are sold at a cheaper price; moreover, they force the non-European Mediterranean Countries into great political and economic transformations. A research on Tunisian firms has shown, for example, that only 33% of them are likely to win the liberalization of the exchanges, a further 33% have to restructure in order to survive, while the remaining 33% which is mainly composed of domestic firms is bound to failure as the new market opens. WB, IMF and OCSE openly maintain that the liberalization of exchanges in the short and medium terms is going to create many difficulties to the non-European Mediterranean Countries, above all a reduction of the domestic production and a growing rate of unemployment; the desired advantages are to be reached in the long term. Under the circumstance the FEZ, not unlikely all other lberist economic systems, will not result in a "widespread prosperity" but in a new social umbalance. We might expect that the gap between the North and the South coasts of the Mediterranean, and within the Mediterranean countries themselves, is going to increase in the foreseeable future. The profits of the economic globalization are, then, going to be benefited only by an extremely small portion of society, mainly from the North countries.
We should not underestimate the fact that the transformations induced by the non-European Mediterranean Countries' access into the FEZ represent a further push for many people from the South and the East coast to emigrate. They are already oppressed by the lack of job facilities, and, at the same time, overstimulated by consumerism and repressed by their authoritarian regimes. The governmental supporters and canvassers of liberism share the wrong idea that the liberalization of exchanges will reduce the emigration rates. But the OCSE have carried out studies on NAFTA, where they proved that the trade agreement has increased the Mexican migration toward the USA. Nonetheless, the European countries' answer to migration, which is being improved as the institution of the FEZ approaches, concerns the check of flows, the agreement on the shares, the readmission of irregulars and stowaways, the reinforcement of police and security apparatuses, the criminalization of the illegal migrants, who are put at the same level as drug dealers or suchlike criminals. Migration responds to precise economic, political and demographic interests that have their origin in the resolutions taken time and again by the EU members, and directly reflect their needs; if this is not the case, migration is treated as a question of security and public order. If it is true that frontiers do not stop goods, capital and First World inhabitants, it is also true that they halt everyone coming from the South. It is impossible to check the flows through a strenghtening of the security apparatus, as proved by the frontier between Mexico and USA which is shorter and more completely controlled than the 15 thousand kilometers long European frontier. Migration flows are caused by the social context in which the future migrant live, by the desire to escape from poverty, lack of job and social oppression; but they might also be accounted for by the hope to emancipate from the market, be it regular or irregular. Emigration originates also an enormous waste of ecinomic resourses, due to the high cost of the advanced and expensive control system and equipment, and to the incremental earnings from the security business. The most striking result is that a great number of people die in their attempt to migrate. Beyopnd the official rhetoric, the constitution of FEZ is the main responsible for the further reduction of human rights and for the lack of freedom of movement in the Mediterranean area.



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