The French nuclear programme was forcibly imposed to the country by Pierre Messmer in February 1974, taking advantage of the fact George Pompidou was dying. The French Council of Ministers voted the launch of the « Contrat-Programme 1 », which was very quickly drafted to be voted before the death of the President. Analysts of the industry have also criticized the French decision to develop the pressurized water technology (PWR) instead of the boiling water technology (BWR), a choice probably made because PWRs are more appropriate for the production of military plutonium (because of the facility to discharge the rods and retrieve the plutonium 239 and 241 bred from the fertile uranium 238) even though they are more difficult to build than BWRs. There are four EPRs being built currently, one in France (Flamanville), one in Finland (Olkiluoto) and two in China (Taïshan). Another French EPR is planned in Penly. Another EPR reactor in upstate New York had been programmed, at Nine Mile Point, but it was officially cancelled in Spring 2014. Two EPRs will also be built at Hinkley Point in the United Kingdom.
In the Horizon 2020 programme, a facility has been created to allow companies to finance research in shale gas fracturing. This purpose has been widely criticized by environmental NGOs, who say the €113m of the programme contradict EU climate change policy and could be afforded instead by the companies who will benefit from the programme.
Astrid (Advanced Sodium Technological Reactor for Industrial Demonstration) is the new nuclear « sun » France intends to build to have access to almost infinite energy while incinerating the most toxic nuclear waste of other nuclear plants. This nuclear reactor is known as a « fast-breeder reactor » : it is able to produce its own plutonium through a process known as « transmutation ». The promise of 2 500 years of nuclear fuel is truly a white elephant for politicians. Fast-breeder reactors like Astrid can also transform toxic nuclear waste (so-called “minor actinids”, i.e. high-level and long-life nuclear waste) into much more innocuous waste. In theory this technology could also be used to incinerate excess plutonium, coming for instance from dismantled nuclear weapons. Astrid is since 2006 a project of the Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique (CEA), in parternship with Areva, Electricité de France (EDF), Bouygues, Alstom, etc. In 2010 it already benefited from €650 million in the framework of the “Great Public Loan for Innovative Investment” (Grand Emprunt). In 2012 the estimated calendar was delayed, with a study phase until 2017, and, if construction of the prototype is decided, its commissioning in 2020. Commercial exploitation should start theoretically in 2040. Fast-breeder reactors have been developed since the end of the Second World War (the idea of fast-breeder reactors comes from Enrico Fermi) but it is in the 1990s that the technology has been studied more closely, because of a purported lack of nuclear fuel and of an actual accumulation of nuclear waste. The technology is still extremely frail and represents an absolute threat in spite of all of its ameliorations, as it is shown below.
The question of whether there is a spontaneous order in markets is a founding question in social sciences. It should guide all of our choices regarding public policies, whether we adopt a liberal viewpoint or interventionist policies. It has been debated at least since the Renaissance – one of the earliest modern economic schools is the Salamanca liberal school of economics. Our thesis is that there is never any possibility of a spontaneous order in markets. We will defend it through three kinds of arguments. First, by arguing that liberal economic policies have always failed to rein in the « Leviathan State » which we all fear. Second, we will turn to heterodox economists and their policy learnings. Third, an analysis of economical history will show that liberalising economic markets is the true “road to serfdom”, as Hayek has put it. In this work, we adopt a “dialectical” method. The first part is dedicated to showing the limits of the dominant theory ; the second part is devoted to finding alternatives in existing research ; and the last part applies the findings to the realities of our times, with policy learnings stakeholders can use to better define the common good.
The European Coal & Steel Community (ECSC) was an innovative supranational community whose creation originated directly from the declaration made by Robert Schuman on May 9, 1950. The High Authority, the executive power of the ECSC, was a supranational body of about 900 civil servants whose perimeter of action was limited to two industries, coal & steel. Its member were the six founding members of the European Community.
The development of the ECSC had been driven by the fear of a cartellisation of these industries, especially in Germany. The perception was that the emergence of « Konzerns » was key in the accession of Adolf Hitler to power. Therefore the main objective was to organize these industries in a common European market to avoid protectionism while ensuring common economic development and developing « de facto solidarities », especially between France and Germany. But the ECSC also had a very strong social dimension, especially as compared with the content of the 1957 Treaty of Rome.
The ECSC has not had a lot of effects on the actual levels of production of coal & steel in its Member States. But it significantly reduced the dependence of Member States on US imports, because it improved trade between its Member States. The trade of steel, in particular, increased tenfold in the 17 years of operation of the ECSC. Furthermore, with the help of American credit, it granted 280 loans to the industries of the Member States, for a total of about 725 millions of French Francs. In Keynesian terms this was a significant contribution to the modernization of the industry. It is still now extremely difficult in the EU to reach such a level of economic intervention : sixty years later, « projects bonds », for instance, are only starting to be implemented in the EU.
Where the ECSC has been able to provide the greatest impetus is, however, social policy. Groundbreaking progresses were achieved. They have not been reproduced afterwards and remain a true lesson for European federalism.
The ECSC has provided significant support for the housing of coal & steel workers. The organisation financed 150 000 apartments between 1952 and 1979. It generally provided an average sum of US$ 1 770 to help workers access property ; this was enough leverage for them. There is still nothing similar in the European Union : there is only a facility in the EFDR dedicated to the financing of social housing for the marginalized (migrant workers, the Roma etc.). The EFDR also intervenes for the thermal renovation of buildings but there is nothing for social housing in the European Social Fund. « CECA houses » were a true innovation, unmatched until now in the EU. Some images (black and white, no sound) of the first “European village” created thanks to the ECSC near Aachen can be watched at the following link :http://www.cvce.eu/obj/le_premier_village_europeen_aix_la_chapelle_1957-fr-3bed6ebc-1b21-4b53-9fcf-be92137cb796.html.
The ECSC has provided a total of approximatively 835 millions of French francs to create 100 000 jobs to compensate for job cuts in the industries. In this amount is included the money provided for the conversion of declining industrial regions. One third of the 100 000 jobs benefited to workers of the coal & steel industries. It took in charge for instance 50% of the total amount of money needed to find a new job for redundant workers in steel industries. It is clear that the ECSC, through this mechanism, significantly reduced the number of social conflicts in declining industrial regions ; social conflicts used to be extremely violent in these areas.
In the EU, it is only much more recently, in late 2006 actually, that a similar facility, the European Globalization Adjustment Fund, has been established, and its budget has been diminished in the new multi-annual financial framework, from 500 to 150 millions of euros every year. The results of the EGF are also inferior to those of the ECSC : it has supported a total of 100 000 persons, with a percentage of success (re-integration) of about 50% ; each supported dismissed worker received an average sum of slightly less than €5 000, covering for about 50% of the costs of the process (the envelope was never consumed entirely in spite of the number of dismissals for economic motives in the EU).
Beyond all of that, the ECSC has invented a social guarantee system for workers losing their job in the coal & steel industries. This system has been imitated and extended to all workers by a number of ECSC Member States, according to Gilbert Mathieu, who reported on the social benefits of the ECSC for Le Monde Diplomatique in 1964.
The Article 68 of the ECSC treaty also included a very interesting, and still unique, mechanism against social dumping. If wages were lowered to reduce prices, or for economic adjustment (if there is an impact on the conditions of life of workers), the High Authority had the possibility to formulate recommendations, which, if not applied, meant that the company was exposed to a fine and to damages of up to twice the economies realised through social dumping. Unfortunately the European Commission has never ever had any similar prerogative. Who could deny such a tremendous innovation could increase significantly the popularity of the European Union among citizens ? Taking inspiration from the 1950s ECSC to create a similar mechanism against social dumping would be an extraordinary contribution to European federalism. It is extremely unfortunate that what has been experimented sixty years ago has never been reproduced yet in the EU.
Another innovation of the ECSC was its financing : loans, and a 1% (of the average yearly value of coal & steel) tax on production , the first “European tax”. This is the only case in which a tax on production (not on consumption or on exports) has ever been levied in the European Union. This is another reason to follow the example of the ECSC nowadays, and the proof that it has been possible in the past to actually leverage an “European tax”.
Thanks to its powers, the High Authority of the ECSC was extremely independent. The organisation developed collegial methods of work, a flat hierarchy and a very good relationship with professionals, including trade unions. Therefore social dialogue was very easy, as testified by Jean Degimbe, a former director-general of the Directorate-General for Employment and Social Affairs of the ECSC. Among the 9 members of the college of the High Authority, 8 were nominated and the last one co-opted by the 8 others. They always made sure to co-opt a trade-unionist (for instance Paul Finet from the Belgian FGTB , who actually became president of the ECSC between January 1958 and September 1959).
However, according to André Renard, a famous Walloon trade-unionist, unions needed to be extremely pro-active in order to have their voice heard. Renard explained that the parliamentary assembly of the ECSC (the “Common Assembly”) had a pivotal role for them because in the Assembly, the “social viewpoint” was dominant. To promote such a “social viewpoint”, parliaments are still an extremely important place.
Nowadays the European Union is just establishing its first social protection mechanism, the “Youth Employment Initiative”. This is a €6 billion fund for the 2014 – 2020 period which would ensure, at first in trial regions where youth unemployment is above 25%, a good quality offer of employment, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within four months of leaving school or becoming unemployed to young people up to 25 years old. This program should be completed by a significant allowance from the Member States, as the total cost of the “Youth Guarantee” is estimated at €21 billion... every year ! The French Forum for the Youth, which gathers youth organisations across all of the political spectrum, declared that the funding allowance for the Youth Employment Initiative was therefore extremely insufficient. It underlined that the Finnish and Austrian mechanisms, from which the Youth Guarantee draws its inspiration, are financially much more ambitious.
Gilbert Mathieu said that the general objectives spelled out in Article 2 of the ECSC treaty (to ensure economic growth, job creation and betterment of the conditions of life) were perhaps hypocritical, as measures adopted to apply it were, according to him, extremely insufficient. But still, it is clear that the ECSC allowed for many innovations, which have not been seen again afterwards. Think especially of the “CECA houses”, of the guarantee for laid-off workers, of the mechanism against social dumping and of the first European tax. Why has the European Union never imitated most of these mechanisms, in spite of the permanent pressure of civil society stakeholders for a true European social policy ? And why has it taken so much time to decision-makers to agree on the sole Youth Employment Initiative ?
Proofs are available to demonstrate that social progress is possible at the international level, and that globalization may not always mean a race to the bottom if correctly regulated. The Havana Charter, from which the GATT has been drawn, also included many dispositions of economic and social policy which, if applied, would have significantly curtailed the negative effects of globalization (it included among other things an international currency (the bancor, mentioned in another article: http://www.eiilir.eu/global/economic-strategies/usa/109-france-denounces-the-hegemony-of-the-us-dollar), transparency on capital flights and a mechanism against trade surpluses). Policy learnings for a better and more popular European Union should be immediately drawn from all of these innovations. We must acknowledge than a “first Social Europe” has existed in the past, and we should find in it the inspiration and legitimacy to vividly promote social policy in the European Union nowadays.
A new EU regulation on maritime surveillance has been co-decided and published in the EU official journal on June 27. It encompasses surveillance and rescue operations that Frontex coordinates. It has been long defended that the EU should bear at least some of the blame for the deaths of migrants in the Mediterranean. Member States and Frontex share responsibility in the violent behaviour or “push-backs” of migrants. The forced returns of migrants' boats to unsafe countries was condemned first by the European Court of Human Rights in its 2012 judgment “Hirsi v. Italy”. But the new regulation is not as clear as it should.
International development or global development is a concept that lacks a universally accepted definition, but it is most used in a holistic and multi-disciplinary context of human development — the development of greater quality of life for humans. It therefore encompasses foreign aid, governance, healthcare, education, poverty reduction, gender equality, disaster preparedness, infrastructure, economics, human rights, environment and issues associated with these. International development is different from simple development in that it is specifically composed of institutions and policies that arose after the Second World War. These institutions focus on alleviating poverty and improving living conditions in Third World decolonized countries.
International development is related to the concept of international aid, but is distinct from, though conceptually related to, disaster relief and humanitarian aid. While these two forms of international support seek to alleviate some of the problems associated with a lack of development, they are most often short term fixes - they are not necessarily long-term solutions. International development, on the other hand, seeks to implement long-term solutions to problems by helping developing countries create the necessary capacity needed to provide such sustainable solutions to their problems. A truly sustainable development project is one which will be able to carry on indefinitely with no further international involvement or support, whether it be financial or otherwise.