How are political decisions made and anchored in the European Union? Whose interests are really being represented when we elect members of the European Parliament, and who profits from those decisions? The EU as an organisation is complex which is difficult to get an overview of. A plethora of lobbying organisations and NGOs operate in the background.
When I analysed EU politics I made unexpected discoveries about how the political game really works at this level. One was how NGOs have been completely incorporated into the political apparatus and largely just echo what the EU Commission itself wishes to implement. This is done through mechanisms of funding where the NGOs completely lack independence and undertake to comply with the Commission’s objectives in order to obtain grants. This has resulted in a host of new professional lobbyist groups while others have abandoned their earlier, more deserving missions, to seeking out the problem areas which can provide the greatest economic contribution to them. The groups who really want to stand up for their independence and go their own way instead become marginalised.
Another ingenious design to implement a desired policy are phenomena such as the cross-parliamentary organisation GLOBE International. These have had a great influence over the EU’s energy and environmental policies by their members (within the subdivision GLOBE EU) being responsible in the EU Parliament for a number of directives in these areas.
“GLOBE EU members played a prominent role in all the dossiers included in the Package, representing the EP as rapporteurs or shadow rapporteurs in negotiations with the Council and the Commission. (GLOBE EU and Climate Change 2005/2009)
A substantial portion of the MEPs who have been working with environmental and energy issues have also been members of GLOBE. In this way the organisation and their clients have had a major influence on the climate and energy policies of the EU Parliament. GLOBE was deeply involved in the EU’s comprehensive climate and energy package. GLOBE [also] advocated for the ban of the incandescent lightbulb (which was replaced by products which in some cases were counterproductive from an environmental standpoint). This ban was also supported by green GNOs such as Greenpeace.
Besides being represented in the EU Parliament, GLOBE also has connections to a number of parliaments across the world, including the Swedish, Russian, Chinese and Indian. Unlike other similar organisations, it is not registered as a cross-political group in the EU. At GLOBE politicians who outwardly represent a number of different political parties and ideologies intermingle. Via GLOBE, liberals, socialists, conservatives and green all work for the same agenda and a legitimate question is how close they are the voters who have elected them for Parliament? This development has created a political class [caste?] which, despite different party affiliations, are closer to each other than to the electoral they are meant to represent.
So who and whose interests are really behind GLOBE?
In January 2013m GLOBE International’s ”Climate Legislation Initiative” was launched, which aims to support legislators worldwide between 2013 and 2015. The process coincides with the international climate negotiations culminating with the final Climate Summit in Paris 2015. The meeting brought together 100 delegates from all over the world and took place in the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). The meeting was also attended by the head of the UN Climate Change (UNFCCC). The event was sanctioned by the British Government and the material had been prepared by the Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics. Funding had already been provided by Zennström Philantropies (NGO by Niklas Zennström, the founder of Skype).
According to their website, GLOBE (Global Legislators Organisation for a Balanced Environment) was originally founded in 1989 ”by legislators from the US Congress, European Parliament, Japanese Diet and the Russian State Duma with the mission to respond to urgent environmental challenges through the development and advancement of legislation.” The initiative focused on implementing the objectives of the Brundtland Commission’s ”Our Common Future”, related to global environmental problems requiring global solutions, such as climate, ozone, acid rain and waste management.
Initially, 28 members of parliament from three global regions convened, including American senators Al Gore, John Heinz, John Kerry and Dutch socialist Hemmo Muntingh. An important organiser at this early stage was the Englishman Edward Seymour-Rouse. Although it outwardly was an American initiative, the British from the beginning played a key role through Seymour-Rouse and his powerful clients in London. It also turned out that since 2004 the headquarters are based in London and are under British leadership.
GLOBE is basically an Anglo-American project and represent political and economic interests primarily in Great Britain, USA and the Netherlands. In the background we find the British socialist think tank Fabian Society from whose headquaters GLOBE operated for a time.
GLOBE also receives support from the European Commission, the governments of Norway, Denmark and Germany, several UN agencies such as the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the Global Environmental Facility and the World Bank. It also works closely with the media (through COM +) and the London School of Economics. This makes GLOBE a powerful association with friends in high places.
The organization is also related to the Club of Rome, with several of its members in its ranks, and has since the G8 meeting in Gleneagles in 2005 been invited to global summits. This coincided with climate change being brought to the forefront of the international agenda via Tony Blair. During his time as an MEP for the Christian Democrats, Club of Rome’s current chairman, Mr Wijkman, was the Chairman of GLOBE EU.
What then are the organization’s origins and agenda?
The foundation of GLOBE International comes from a futurological direction. It all started as a project that was subordinate to the American think tank ”Congressional Institute for the Future”. This think tank was founded by the futurologist and New Age guru Barbara Marx Hubbard in 1979, along with Senators Al Gore, Newt Gingrich and John Heinz. The ideology was founded on trying to predict events in the future and, based on these predictions, providing programs and policy solutions. The goal was then to be able to create the desired development and future.
The ideas were taken from the World Future Society and futurologists such as Alvin Toffler. A number of conferences were organized by Hubbard in the 70s where these ideas were discussed. The goal was to implement a global shift from an industrial to a post-industrial society linked to a global awareness through information technology (the Internet). The future was considered by thinkers such as Toffler to require new policy responses and the elimination of nation states. These would be dismantled and instead international organizations such as the EU and UN would begin to take over. Toffler called this ”The Third Wave”. Ideas such as these had early been promoted by, among others, HG Wells (Fabian Society) and Jesuit priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. It was a dream of a global utopian society which, according to Teilhard de Chardin, was part of the Divine Plan. Besides in GLOBE, these ideas are also reflected in the ideological basis of the closely related Club of Rome (which I will return to in future posts).
The GLOBE project was also about seeking market solutions to identified environmental problems. Among other things, an international trading of greenhouse gases, was suggested early on. This was something that GLOBE’s first President Gore could then capitalise on. He came to both warn about the problem and deliver the solution.
Globe’s organisation was conceived as an international hotbed of information and legislation for environmental experiments which could be introduced in several countries and regions simultaneously. The basic philosophy was not about GLOBE becoming yet another think tank. It was about creating a concrete instruments for action where the action plan is really being implemented.
One example of this is the think tank The Bee Group which, since 2010, gathers market interests in the EU under GLOBE’s supervision. Here GLOBE has collaborated with and received funding from large corporations such as Unilever, Holcim, Michelin and Dow. These have been able to present their problem areas, suggest policy measures and how the issue may be raised politically. In the expanded network, environmental organisations have since been funded and activated in raising awareness and support for the implementation of policy proposals. This also follows the logic and recommendations of Pieter Winsemius book ”A Thousand Shades of Green: Sustainable Strategies for Competitive Advantage” and of the Dutch state transition experiments (Transition Governance).
“The Bee Group is a forum for MEPs on the one hand and business and industry partners on the other, whose aim is to propose alternatives inspired by innovation and a long-term vision. Its purpose is not to defend any specific interests in the short-term, but to think about the future.”
First, the agenda and what is to be implemented between the main actors is determined, thereafter the voter base is influenced by the media, NGOs and activist campaigns, politicians respond to the public opinion that is emerging, and then implement the goals which were already set at the beginning. It is a conscious control of the whole process in which the players are interconnected. It is similar to systems theory ideas and cybernetics. The problem is that this goes against an order where politicians really listen to the voice of the people and what they wish to implement politically. Instead, different techniques are used for manipulating public opinion to be in line with the interests of the ruling elite.
Large corporations, which are involved, order policies that create market advantages for them. Either through regulations that disadvantage competitors or because they are at the forefront of ”green” replacement technology. This is done with promises of saving the environment and the earth from destruction and gathers public opinion which at all costs wishes to avoid such a Doomsday scenario. It is an ideal construction which outwardly appears as kindness and care for the planet. Criticism of this is then interpreted as being against the planet’s wellbeing. Who can be against sustainable development? What is sustainable, however, differ depending on who the player is. The politicians who are members of GLOBE are mostly just tools in a bigger game where they become agents of the agenda of creating the ”global dream kingdom” while working for large corporations which deliver policy solutions to identified environmental problems. The question is whether any of the people who voted them into Parliament are aware of whose interests parliamentarians are really working for.
The EU has thus become controlled by interests who work outside the purely partisan in order to implement their goals. In the EU Parliament party groupings also do not play the same role as in national parliaments. GLOBE International can be said to represent an emerging system of global governance where mainly British, American and Dutch interests are represented. This applies to those countries’ financial and political elite. Just like the name suggests, GLOBE’s influence is global and they operate on all continents. The boundaries in the global political game are ever more blurred. The foundation is futurological, with political decisions based on scenarios of a desired future. The Great Utopia.
The policy guidelines are compiled centrally from London, in collaboration with institutions such as the London School of Economics. This is done partly based on the interests of large corporations but also on the visions of a post-industrial society without nation-states. Despite its obvious major influence, GLOBE is largely unknown among the general public, which begs questions about power and legitimacy. What would the reaction be if an organization like this operated from headquarters in China, Iran, North Korea or Russia in order to exert influence on parliaments in the West?
liu.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:572917/FULLTEXT01.pdf sid. 63-67