In October 2012 the US Chamber of Commerce and BusinessEurope issued a joint manifesto
on “Regulatory Cooperation in the EU-US Economic Agreement”. This was designed
to provide the basic ideological framework for the upcoming TTIP/TAFTA negotiations, as well as the specific plan for what is variously being called regulatory cooperation or regulatory coherence. To best put it in historical context, I call it “coordination”, following the German term for this kind of ideological and organizational/strategic/tactical doctrine, Gleichschaltung
. The basic idea is to fully formalize and rationalize the subservience of government regulatory bureaucracies to corporate bureaucracies, and to render the service of regulators on behalf of corporations systematically aggressive and proactive.
To start with some definitions, as the terms are used in this and a few other documents I’ll be discussing. This is also what these terms mean for globalization and corporatism in general, and what they mean when used in the corporate media.
*”Trade”, “investment”, “investor”: Corporate imperative, corporate prerogative (including the right to any conceivable profit, to be enforced and/or directly paid by the government itself, as we’ll see in the case of “investor dispute settlement”), corporate power, a command economy based on maximizing these.
*”Stakeholder”: Corporate oligopoly sectors. The corporate persons who populate these sectors are the only recognized citizens of the globalization commonwealth, and therefore the only ones who are considered to have a legitimate stake in anything government does. Government’s proper job is to serve these corporate citizens and only these corporate citizens. This is the totalitarian principle of corporatism and the globalization command economy.
*”Equivalence”: The race to the bottom, for all regulation which would impose any restriction whatsoever on corporate actions. Also in some cases a race to the top for corporate welfare conveyances and regulator aggression against economic rivals of corporate oligopolies.
*”Cooperation”, “coherence”: Coordination (Gleichschaltung) of government bureaucracy under the control of corporate bureaucracy. The plan for corporate bureaucratic rule, still mediated mostly through the nominal control of government bureaucracy and the nominal rule of neoliberal pseudo-democracy. But it’s a significant step forward in formalizing and rationalizing actual corporate control.
*”Regulation”, “legislation”, “non-legislative acts”: Weapons on behalf of the corporate imperative, where possible. But can also mean atavistic (i.e. political) manifestations of democracy, which are to be fought and suppressed. These documents lay out a battle plan for the coordination of the offensive weaponry and defensive suppression measures. Under corporate leadership, government regulators are to systematically organize and act upon their inherent hostility to democracy and politics as such.
This is why we must reject in thoughts and words any concession to the Big Lie that globalization has anything to do with legitimate trade. Real trade is demand-based and develops naturally and organically from human economies. Globalization, so-called “free trade”, is a top-down planned economy based on intentional overproduction and the subsequent forced creation of “markets” for this overproduction. To be anti-globalization is therefore to be pro-trade in the real economic sense, and vice versa.
This corporate document is a perfect example of the economic planning involved in globalization. It may be taken as a general statement of what all the corporate sectors want. Following this I’ll do a similar discussion for the plans written by the GMO sector. That’ll be part two. In these corporate plans everything is always to be understood in terms of supply-based corporate imperatives (profit and control). Throughout, it’s taken for granted that the goal of the TTIP and of all globalization policy (and government policy as such) is “market liberalization”, i.e. a command economy based on overproduction, corporate welfare, dumping, coerced markets, and the total gutting of all public interest regulation. Note well that only public interest regulation and demand-side policy like local buying requirements are targeted for “equivalence” and “coordination”. Corporate welfare, such as Big Ag crop insurance, is not considered a “regulation” which needs to be “equalized” among the parties to the compact.
The US CoC and BE start out proclaiming that the a US/EU globalization compact has both domestic and international coordination goals. Domestically, the goal is to “enhance regulators’ efficiency and thus effectiveness in fulfilling their domestic regulatory mandates” (p.1). In other words the coordination provisions encoded here are also to control domestic regulatory policy. Globally, the goal is to “establish a clear goal” of “equivalent regulatory outcomes” for all US and EU regulators, and to “provide new tools and a governing process to guide regulatory cooperation on both a cross-cutting and sector-specific basis”.
There’s the race to the bottom and the plan for total coordination. “Cross-cutting” refers to the permanent and constantly expanding generic plan for regulatory coordination. “Sector-specific” refers to whatever pro-corporate floors and ceilings the TTIP specifically sets for a given sector. But since some of the corporate demands, such as completely eradicating EU GMO regulations and labeling, are so politically inflammatory that their de jure enshrinement in the compact could endanger its ratification by the parliament, the coordination plan leaves lots of things vague and intended to be settled bureaucratically at some unspecified future time, once the democratic part of the process is safely over.
In general, the coordination plan is meant to shift all real power and control in space and time to future bureaucratic consultations, and away from anything even pretending to be accountable or democratic.
This goes along with the more specific ”strong and binding technical barriers to trade (TBT) and sanitary/phyto-sanitary provisions”.
“Obviously, a determination that specific regulatory approaches are compatible can come only after intensive study and establishment of full trust and confidence between counterpart regulators.” Regulation is to be subjected to a coordination assessment between collaborating government bureaucrats (US and EU, under the supervision of corporate bureaucrats). The paragraph goes on to describe how this assessment is to be permanent, ongoing (“evergreen”), flexible, and involve the exchange of information and the setting up of one-size-fits-all sham procedures for regulatory applications for approval, safety assessment, testing.
The manifesto is then divided into six sections. The Preamble (p.2) lays out the propaganda goals. These are cast primarily as meant to indoctrinate regulators themselves with a “unified vision”, in the US and EU as well as in “third countries”. It’s also meant to “give US and European citizens greater confidence in traded products and services even as it helps regulators ensure optimal allocation of their scarce resources”. This euphemism for lying while robbing means that the people are to be subject to an intensified campaign of promises and intimidation. But the term “scarce resources” indicates that more and more the propaganda is meant to instill fear and resignation rather than hope. The propaganda is also to include a heavy element of sham solicitude for ”small and medium sized businesses”. In practice this means corporate contractors who are nominally independent but really indentured entities. Actual, entrepreneurial small businesses will be excluded from all these benefits, at best. And they’ll often be the targets of aggressive regulator coordination.
The second part describes the “Regulatory Principles” (p.2). These are said to have already been well-enshrined in earlier US-EU joint statements. The new emphasis is ”to make the regulatory component of the overall agreement comprehensive”, to set a new standard for “regulatory best practices” in all subsequent globalization compacts, and most of all to enshrine the principle that governments and regulators are always to “go beyond” wherever they are at the moment, toward more intensely realizing the “market liberalization” goal, i.e. the goal of total corporate domination. The manifesto stresses that the whole coordination process is to be “evergreen”, meaning that everything in it is to be always in motion. No matter how total corporate control and domination is at any given time, regulators are to consider the project to be just beginning and to look for ways to keep it moving. This is the essence of the totalitarian mindset and mode of action.
The “Regulatory Outcomes” section (p.3) lays out a basic strategy for permanent action. The paper emphasizes that while full regulatory equivalence is always the ultimate goal, the immediate goal to attain at least full information sharing and a coordination framework among all government bureaucrats under corporate discipline. In other words even if the bureaucracy as a whole can’t immediately achieve total victory over politics and democracy, it’s at least building the ideology and practicing the coordination work for a world of total corporate domination. Even if full equivalence is ever attained, the concept of equivalence in itself is never to be stable, but always in motion, since in principle there is no floor which is low enough for corporate freedom, and no ceiling high enough for the burdens to be imposed on alternative, rival sectors, as well as upon political and legal concepts of democracy, citizenship, legal standing, etc., wherever these could work in favor of human beings.
“This process should be oriented to allow stakeholders as well as regulators to identify entire sectors and regulations within sectors which are ripe for an equivalence evaluation. Such a regulatory cooperation component will add a proactive requirement directing and empowering regulators to seek mutual recognition, as well as a process by which regulators would be required to respond to stakeholder-identified opportunities to examine equivalence – neither of which currently exist in the EU or the US.”
Bureaucrats are also to see their job as to undermine existing legislative policy wherever this is counter to the corporate prerogative. The compact is to override “any statutory barriers to cooperation”. They’re to craft and enforce regulations according to corporate specifications. Lower-level bureaucrats as well as higher officials are to have an open-door policy for corporate lobbyists. They’re to be “required to respond” to corporate demands. They’re to conduct pro-corporate assessments and keep the corporations informed of everything they know and do. This is all to apply not just in “trade” contexts but in purely domestic affairs as well. It’s a blueprint for the total corporatization of nominally public bureaucracies under an ideological and disciplinary regime more comprehensive and systematic than hitherto.
Corporations are to be closely involved in all regulatory assessments and consultations, adding input as they see fit. But regulators are to have a “proactive requirement” to always be looking for action opportunities on their own. This is a key part of the “evergreen” concept, how everything must constantly be in motion. In the same way a Stalinist was always looking for opportunities to inform and cause arrests, while insufficient activity on this score would become a cause for oneself to be arrested, so the mark of a good regulator is always to be on the lookout for ways to render regulation ever more pro-corporate. He’s to be proactive in evading, gutting, or being aggressive, always creatively interpreting and doing, in service to the corporate imperative.
The most specific attack is on the EU’s precautionary principle
. The goal is to replace this in the EU with US-style “ex-post assessments”, meaning that corporations are to be allowed to do whatever they want with no restraints, and then regulators will pretend to assess the effects afterward. As we’ve seen with GMOs, this is state-of-the-art corporatist regulatory doctrine, the radical opposite of the precautionary principle.
1. The presumption is to let corporations do whatever they want. This is the way GMOs are “regulated” in the US. The USDA does only a superficial technical assessment, the EPA punts, and the FDA fabricates the ideological lie of “substantial equivalence” to justify its own complete lack of action and the general sham character of US regulation.
2. Pretend that the government will assess the result. If there are bad effects, government will impose necessary regulation later. With GMOs this would require labeling (so everyone could easily trace GMOs in the food supply) and epidemiological studies.
3. In practice, this assessment will never take place. In practice the US government requires neither labeling nor epidemiological studies. Yet it happily tells the lie that GMOs have been assessed in practice and found to be safe. Since no such assessment is possible without studies, and since the government never performed or required the studies, it’s impossible to know if GMOs aren’t already causing chronic health detriments. This is one of the core Big Lies of cartel and government hacks, that GMOs have been proven safe in practice. In truth there’s zero evidence for this, while the independent studies which have been done have found significant evidence against it. To repeat, government has NEVER tested at all, ”ex post” or otherwise. This example, which is typical, proves that the whole notion of replacing the precautionary principle with ex post assessments is a lie. In practice it means gutting the precautionary principle and replacing it with nothing.
4. In practice no bad result, if independently discovered, will ever be recognized. Thus the FDA and EFSA have always seen part of their job as to run interference for GMOs against all the independent evidence of their dangers which has been compiled.
5. It boils down to getting the corporate action in place. Then as an accomplished fact it can never be dislodged. This is in accord with standard bureaucratic practice - once something exists, it can never be dismantled. The ideology of the “accomplished fact” is also explicit. For example a corollary lie to the canned lie about a fraudulent “scientific consensus”
in favor of GMO safety (these days often rebranded, “scientific majority”) is the explicit assertion that there should be a much higher burden of proof on evidence which challenges the dominant ideology. This is fraudulently called “scientific”, but it’s self-evidently nothing but an assertion of Might Makes Right. Actual science, on the contrary, weighs all evidence in the exact same unbiased way, whether it supports or contradicts a popular theory.
6. That sums up the basic lie of the whole concept, whose only meaning is to remove ALL regulatory barriers. To put it another way, the goal is to completely dissolve government as such*, other than as the facilitator of the corporate prerogative and political fig leaf for corporate rule.
[*In which case we'd be better off without centralized government. Especially under the corporatist framework, statism is stupid from any point of view other than that of the 1%.]
All this is more proof that it’s in vain to look to central government regulators for public interest action. For example, the FDA never actually could meaningfully regulate GMOs, including labeling them, since this is not its function in the first place. On the contrary, its function is intrinsically pro-corporate, and this corporatist function is slated to be escalated under these globalization compacts.
I dwelt on this goal of gutting the EU’s precautionary principle because:
1. This is the #1 specific goal of the US for the TTIP.
2. It’s the best example of how the general goal of globalization compacts is to gut even the most threadbare public interest regulation (in practice the EC and EFSA do all they can to evade and subvert the precautionary principle; only strong pressure from the European people forces them to adhere to it to any extent; but EU regulation of GMOs, which much stronger than that of the US, is still badly inadequate) and replace it with sham principles and total freedom of action for these criminal organizations.
Section 4 is on “Transatlantic Regulatory Tools” (p.4). This is primarily about enshrining the formal mechanisms of Gleichschaltung. It lists some “possible factors that might trigger the formal consultative role”, including any proposed new regulation or legislation which could affect an existing sector or in an “emerging policy area or developing sector”. So regulators are supposed to call meetings to formulate pro-corporate strategy to deal with any political threat or economic opportunity, as these come up.
But the core provision is the ongoing ”Regulatory Compatibility Analysis” (RCA) and the permanent overall coordination committee (often called a “Regulatory Council”). This is a formal mechanism to systematize the way US and EU regulators come together to coordinate all their actions, all the while receiving ”meaningful input” from the corporations. The goal of it all is to “put stakeholders at the table with regulators to essentially co-write regulation”. The manifesto lists seven questions as a ”starting point” for the evergreen “consultation with regulators and stakeholders” (p. 5). These all involve assessing any and all government action from the point of view of costs and savings to the corporations, how much something will “increase transatlantic trade”, whether full equivalence is or isn’t desirable in a particular case, whether or not it’s better to promulgate a regulation within the one-world bureaucracy rather than domestically, and whether or not whole realms of regulation can be dispensed with completely.
All of these are to be approached with tactical flexibility. The only constant principle is that every action is to be toward increasing corporate power. Everything else is always in flux, though things like seeking equivalence or completely getting rid of regulation are general principles.
There’s a tentative paragraph about how to square coordinated information sharing with ”business sensitive” information. The only thing they’re sure about is “harsh penalties for the release of confidential business information outside of a regulator-to-regulator context”. So the compact is to standardize the persecution of whistleblowers and real journalists at a harsh extreme. (This part also gives the lie to the notion that “small and medium businesses” can be part of all this. Are they also to have access to this information sharing? Their own information will be given to the big corporations, of course.)
Section 5 lists the “Institutional Provisions” for the overall coordination committee or regulatory council (p. 6). This council is to coordinate communications and timetables, measure progress, propose action of its own, harmonize the actions of coordinated regulators vis ”mismatched authorities” like EU member states, US states, attack “failures of regulatory compliance”, and of course “work with stakeholders” throughout.
So the regulators and their coordination committee, taxpayer-funded bureaucracies nominally functioning in the public interest, are really supposed to perform cost/savings analysis for the corporations, craft and enforce regulation in the public interest, and then fraudulently tell we the people how they’re really serving us. In this manifesto we have the corporations themselves telling us how what I call regulatory triangulation
really works. All this means further collusion, the further binding of corporation and state into the corporate state.
There’s a final fig leaf on “Preserving regulator decision-making authority”, which is just a sop to the neoliberal facade. In principle regulators retain a “veto” right to declare particular products outside the scope of the coordination. Of course at this point the “investor dispute settlement” provision would kick in. As we’ll see, regulators are also supposed to give consultations and assessments of regulatory action which help ensure victory at these tribunals.
To sum up, the plan is to be vague and flexible wherever necessary during the negotiation of the formal provisions of the globalization compacts (the TPP has its own version of everything here), postponing the most politically inflammatory assaults for the coordination process to follow on a permanent “evergreen” basis.
The proposal is clearly not just any proposal. On both sides, many other cross-sector business groups explicitly support the proposal or suggest a similar approach in their contributions to the official consultations on TTIP, including BDI (German Industry Association), Confederation of British Industry, Coalitions of Services Industries, British American Business, National Foreign Trade Council, Roundtable on Trade and Competition, Transatlantic Business Council, National Association of Manufacturers, Eurometaux and the United States Council for International Business. Some, notably the Competitive Enterprise Institute, take a step further and demand that businesses are able to choose freely which set of standards and regulations they will apply.
On top of this, 30 business associations, including most of the aforementioned, have written a common letter to the US Trade Representative and to Commissioner de Gucht’s department to stress the importance of a system of “regulatory cooperation”. They include sectoral lobby groups from the chemicals industry, car industry, the financial sector, biotechnology, pharmaceutical industry and many more. They point to the existing structures on regulatory dialogue, the High Level Regulatory Cooperation Forum, and assert that they “can be made much more effective and should include enhanced opportunities for dialogue with stakeholders”.
This is explicit confirmation from the corporations themselves that their goal is total economic control and domination, to be leveraged into total political control and domination. This confirms everything I’ve written about corporate totalitarianism and that humanity’s great need is to completely abolish the de jure corporate mode of organization. We have to abolish the corporations completely.
In part two I’ll give a similar analysis of the specific demands of the GMO cartel, then in part three the EC’s ardent response to all this.