Just a few days ago the European Commissioner for Foreign Affairs, or officially the “High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission” presented the latest information on her agenda in front of the European Parliament’s plenary. In what came to be a multi-illegitimate speech, replete with grave errors, egregious fallacies and deep misunderstandings, Lady Ashton spoke among others about the case of a Spanish company in Argentina, whose shares in an Argentinian oil company will most probably be expropriated by the Argentinian government. In this unfortunate speech, Ashton brought up the issue by making the following introductory remarks:
Last night the Argentinean Government announced that it intends to expropriate the majority stake held by the Spanish company Repsol in the YPF energy company.
This announcement is cause for grave concern. YPF is an important European Union investment in Argentina. A takeover sends a very negative signal to international investors and it could seriously harm the business environment in Argentina.
There is much that is wrong with the above quote. Lady Ashton fails to understand the difference between a company originating in the EU and a “European Union investment” as such. To clarify matters, Repsol is a privately owned company, whose profits go to its private shareholders – fair enough. The mere fact that it is registered in Spain which is an EU member-state, does not imply anyhow that any investments abroad will be considered “EU investments”.
The operations of Repsol in Argentina are a private endeavor of a private company where the EU has no official involvement whatsoever in the administration of the company and in the distribution of whatever profits and privileges might exist. Lady Ashton fails to understand this profound distinction by making the preposterous claim that the operations of Repsol (YPF) are an “important European Union investment”.
But this is only the beginning of her problem. For upon such grave fallacy she proceeds to even make recommendations about the implications of this action on the Argentinian economy. Who is Lady Ashton to interfere with the internal affairs of a foreign country? Who gave her such authority? Yes, it might be to the detriment of Argentina, but this is something that concerns the national government alone. Ashton has absolutely no right to intervene, especially when that is done on the basis of protecting the interests of a major company.
Such remarks can only be interpreted as part of corporatism or as a sign of ignorance of the highest degree. You choose the most appropriate. My question is who is Lady Ashton to speak as the spokesperson of Repsol or any other company? If Repsol sees its property rights being violated it can seek justice at the courts or it can withdraw all its investments from the country, thus depriving the domestic economy from jobs and capital. If that is a problem, it concerns Argentina and any private interests. It certainly is not a matter of any Commissioner.
In view of her record of propounding such ridiculous remarks in all sorts of issues, it is a surprise how she remains in office. In a democratic government such an incompetent minister would have immediately be called to resign. Of course the Commission is not “a government”, nor are the Commissioners “ministers”, nor is this institution democratic in any comprehensive sense.
The kind of nonsense we heard from Lady Ashton can only remind us of the desperate need to reform the European Commission root and branch. For as long as the EU remains a political “UFO”, with undemocratic institutions such as the Commission playing a dominant role in the agenda, we will continue to witness speeches such as those of the “high representative of Repsol”.
Go home Lady Ashton. Repsol will find its way. After all they have the money to hire a group of good lobbyists in case they need them.
Protesilaos Stavrou, a European citizen who detests cronyism and corporatism in all their emanations.