Does European redemption affect the Americas?: The European Union gave-in to the legitimate desires of Europeans. Will we? A column by Ingo Plöger

By Ingo Plöger*

The common European, a citizen who believes that post-war Europe is the best model for creating prosperity through democracy, peace, freedom, justice, tolerance and respect for cultural and environmental diversity, is reaching its limits. The sentiment manifests itself in a ‘enough is enough’! attitude.

The European Commission, the administrative body of a modern Tower of Babel, which influences and guides the European Parliament with considerable autonomy, has overprescribed remedies to the common citizen. Climate transformation has become a paramount European theme, transcending mere integration, evolving into a creed ingrained with political convictions, values, and beliefs deeply entrenched within the European Union. This conviction has become an axiomatic dogma. European voters have been captivated by a vision wherein Europe leads global climate change efforts, influencing other regions to follow their model. Such model aims to achieve drastic changes in agriculture by 2030, urban mobility by 2035, and energy transformation by 2050.

They established the ambitious Green Deal under the consensus that they would maintain the agro-industrial market closed until 2050. Internal regulations would compensate member countries through carbon markets financing this transformation. Environmental, health, technological, and legal standards were established to provide Europeans with a competitive edge over other economies. They mandated that international suppliers adhere to these European regulations. All of this stemmed from a surge in “new green” beliefs fostered by a youth movement symbolized by figures like Greta Thunberg. The Green Deal has been enshrined into law, and its implementation is underway in several countries.

However, the pandemic disrupted global supply chains, many of which Europe had helped build over decades, if not centuries, often through its colonial history. Tensions between American and Chinese policies further unsettled the European economic balance, which is significantly reliant on investments in China. Additionally, an unexpected Russian military aggression occurred in Ukraine. All of these events unfolded within a span of less than four years.

Moreover, the dream persists that it is necessary to transform Europe through the Green Deal, by translating the measures into reality, puts the economy at risk, not considering the new scenario surrounding it.

Add the migratory inflow generated by the political collapse of nations in North Africa and the Middle East, where massive waves of refugees sought shelter in Europe. With Christianity already weakened and Islam internalized and advancing, coupled with the extension of environmental beliefs, ordered integration becomes a crucible of perceived uncertainties, social injustices, and popular perplexity.

However, nobody told the Europeans about the price of the Green Deal dream.

With the new scenario came inflation, high interest rates, recession and loss of competitiveness, with advances of Asian products in Europe.

Europe is still a rich continent, compared to many others, but it was unable to realize that it was placing a burden on the common citizen to be absorbed beyond their tolerance. While the economy was growing, much could still be absorbed, but when the economy begins to show signs of structural and cyclical weakening, Europeans realize that their future is threatened. By not telling voters the price of this dream, and the need to adapt to the hostile environment, having to pay more to finance a war, in a recessive international scenario, with supply inflation, the European had to put his hand in his pocket to pay much more for their food, their rent, their energy and their taxes, than they received in their salary.

The first cry was the fact that the German Parliament had to redo its 2024 budget, due to a Supreme Court decision, which did not authorize it to make budgetary compensation for COVID, to finance the deficits. A rich country like Germany had to establish cuts in the social area and obviously also in subsidies directly affecting farmers. In January, farmers are generally at home, due to the winter; they are not plowing, sowing or harvesting, but recently they took their tractors out of the garages and thousands went to Berlin to dump manure in front of the Parliament. They stopped highways and roads, and, incredible as it may seem, public opinion joined them, even though they were strongly affected by the protests, which prevented citizens from traveling along the frozen paths.

It was a general call for discontent and protest from a population that was enchanted by a dream, and wakes up with a nightmare, with an economic, environmental and social burden that it can no longer pay.

What happened in Germany in a few days’ spreads across France, Holland, Belgium, and received support not only from most of the population, but also from business leaders.

France reacted quickly and changed the young, eloquent Prime Minister, who, to appease his people, declared that environmental, social and economic measures will be reversed. The French president, in a political impulse, declared that negotiations between the European Union and Mercosur must be discontinued. Everything to calm the heated spirits in this political winter that is spreading throughout Europe.

Nonetheless European spring is promising.

The political space of the Green dream is falling apart very quickly. Farmers all over the world are conservative. They are connected to the earth.  It is from there that they get their livelihood and from there that they plant for his future. “Where is my country going, they wonder?”

In the eagerness for answers from the unsuspecting urbanite, who has done so much to place the full weight of unsustainability on agriculture, misunderstood by misguided policies on agricultural pesticides, reduction of productive land, animal treatment, disregard for biomass and so on, now calls for a policy of “food sovereignty”.  Imagining, like a dream, that this would solve it. Total irony, not to say hypocrisy.

Sovereignty is called for when there is a risk of supplying essential goods to a population. In Europe, every day someone knocks on their door wanting to export food, but they are not allowed to import it.  Sovereignty was the term that European negotiators for more than 23 years prohibited from putting into the Mercosur and European Union negotiations protocols, as according to them it was a symbol of protectionism in an increasingly global and free world.

Now, however, to calm the spirits of excited Europeans, they are beginning to call for Food Sovereignty. Public security in Europe is beginning to be called into question, every day more and more common and heinous crimes are reported. Security, which is a European heritage, is less normal.

European citizens are manifesting themselves in protests, and will do so in the next European elections, against economic and environmental conditions, but also disfavoring immigration policy. An aging society seeks security in these circumstances. Conservatism seems to offer solutions, but nobody knows if their promises will do, because they are more inclined to favor private initiative, and, on extremes, they are more nationalistic.

In democracies, if politics does not change with the voters’ wishes, politicians change.

This could happen from this announced spring.

The dream is making water. The Green Deal is unraveling. “The screws will have to be tightened and relocated” a person with a deep understanding of this European scenario told me. But what are the screws that need to be turned?

If this is the situation in Europe, what does this teach us in Latin America?

We certainly have here in the Americas a situation where popular desires are also emerging due to frustrated expectations. Therefore, all care is necessary to avoid having the same effect.

Politicians and leaders are asked: which screws should be loosened, and which should be tightened?

  • Exaggerating the environmental question beyond what can be afforded, is certainly not wise.
  • Maintaining privileges without meeting basic social desires is a great risk.
  • Placing more burden on the economic engine that drives development, increasing inequality, leading to structural and cyclical unemployment, is not advisable.
  • Being condescendent with public insecurity is not understanding the first commandment for families in the Americas. This leads a country to the Ecuador syndrome, out of control.

If we were to rank critical factors, the priority could look like this:

1. Public safety

2. Strengthen the private sector

3. Zero hunger and poverty

4. Review environmental policies to avoid falling into the European trap

5. Strengthen the socio-environmental and energy assets of the Americas

6. Build strong alliances for regional and international integration

As we are more part of the solution than the problems, our agenda needs to be offensive in the search for new visions of strengthening through cooperation and less coercion (only in public security is this different). Latin America can make a difference if it knows how to unite in common purposes and actions.

However, on the other hand, the Americas are much more susceptible to European contagion than people think.

Wake up politicians and leaders, because it’s later than you might think!

* Brazilian Entrepreneur, President CEAL Brazilian Chapter

Related

A Report Card on Latin America’s Bureaucratic Conundrum

by Jerry Haar* “Lethargic” best describes Latin America’s perennial challenge...

Crisis management during gigantic catastrophes: a column by Ingo Plöger

by Ingo Plöger* Those in charge of organizations are rarely...

Brazil’s Embrace of Biotechnology: a column by Jerry Haar

If there has been any positive collateral impact of...