Welcome to the IGO Watch Monthly Newsletter for February!

There has been a lot to keep track of with lots of activities by IGO’s around the world this month!

But, before we get into the ridiculous examples for this month, we want to welcome our newest member, the Greater Mekong Research Center that “focuses on the transition economies of Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam.” Welcome aboard!

The European Union… Of Waste

Last month, we announced that IGO Watch will be closely following the pre-election activities in the European Union, and will advocate for transparency, accountability, and much-needed fundamental reforms of the large European bureaucracy.

The EU has a nasty habit of wasting taxpayer money. Every month, the Parliament of the European Union literally moves from Brussels to Strasbourg. Thousands of bureaucrats, officials, and translators, with thousands of boxes of paperwork, are transported to Strasbourg for a 4-day proceeding. The estimated yearly cost of this action is approximately 180 million euros of taxpayer money, amounting to more than 2 billion euros since this practice started. That’s right – 2 billion euros just to move boxes of paperwork, even during this age of email! The Parliament building in Strasbourg is empty for more than 300 days a year.

Billions of EU taxpayer funds are also wasted through illegal subsidies! According to a WTO ruling from 2018, the EU had given around 18 billion euros of illegal taxpayer-funded subsidies through state aid to Airbus, to help launch its A380 and A350 jets. Airbus just recently announced they will shut down the production of the A380 in 2021, claiming they would no longer need to repay state loans on the A380 because governments had agreed to share some risk in the roughly €15 billion project. It is estimated that 1 billion euros remain in unpaid government loans tied to the A380. Those are billions of dollars taken from hardworking taxpayers going down the drain to finance an unsuccessful, government-controlled airline conglomerate!

New copyright laws proposed by the EU will also force websites and news publishers to check all their posts to see if anything ever published might be a copyright violation. This is a desperate attempt to seize revenue from news aggregation sites, through which the EU will dig up the web’s very foundations.

The copyright regulation reforms go hand in hand with the new Digital Tax proposal, which is targeted mainly at American tech companies, in order to seize their revenue, potentially tax them close to $5.7 billion, and hinder their ability to operate in the EU. You can read more on that in this article by IGO Watch partner Americans for Tax Reform.

Unfortunately, when IGOs and governments impose digital taxes to target large tech companies, it is mostly consumers and smaller and local businesses that suffer from higher costs, as IGO Watch partners The Australian Taxpayers Alliance write in this article

But that’s not all the idiocy coming out of the EU: The President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, announced ludicrous spending of taxpayer funds on battling climate change. At a time so many European taxpayers are struggling to make ends meet, in the next financial period, 2021 to 2027, a quarter of the entire EU budget will go towards “fighting climate change”.

The transparency of the European Parliament and the European Union as a whole suffered a hard blow when the European Court of Justice decided not to share the spending information of the MEPs. As it stands, civil society and the media will not be able to accurately pinpoint how another forty million euros are spent, particularly those set aside for general office expenses and distributed in allowances among the 751 MEPs. You can read more about this issue on our website in this great article in both English and Spanish by our partners from Spain, Fundación para el Avance de la Libertad.

WHO will stand up to the WHO?

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) plain packaging policies backfired abysmally. Not only do these policies set a terrible precedent by undermining intellectual property rights, but have also completely failed at reducing smoking rates. Additionally, the tobacco black market – controlled by criminal and terrorist syndicates – has skyrocketed, as customers often resort to asking for the “cheapest smokes” available.

Sadly, the fact that the WHO refuses to accept reality in the face of overwhelming evidence comes as no surprise, as the WHO has a record of sticking to their policies for long periods of time, even when they are scientifically proven wrong. It took them a whopping 60 years to reverse their stance on medical applications of cannabis, and acknowledge the growing evidence for medical applications of the drug, reversing its position that it should not be used in legitimate medical practice. Hopefully, we won’t have to wait another 60 years for them to admit bacon isn’t as carcinigentic as plutonium, their current position. The WHO also see no basis for discussion about the tough EU air pollution limits, ignoring the scientific arguments of 107 German lung specialists who argue that health fears about vehicle exhaust emissions had been overblown.

In other WHO news, the newest public health enemy has been identified – loud headphones. The Safe Listening Devices and Systems standard, which took 2 years to develop, urges governments and makers of headphones, mobile phones and other audio devices to do more to keep down the volume they emit amid concerns about hearing loss in an increasingly digitized era.

A United Nations Of Perverts

The United Nations has an abysmal record when it comes to sexual misconduct and harassment. As internal scandals and reports of misconduct are lately coming into public attention, more pressure from the U.S. and EU, and pledges to withhold funding unless the situation improves are necessary steps to stop the underlying predatory culture, TPA’s Director of Policy Ross Marchand writes for IGO Watch.

Monthly Update Recap

Prefer video over reading? You can see the most important highlights in our video update. Check it out on this link!

See Something? Say Something!

We’re always looking for regional coordinators from countries around the world to help us distribute information on social media, write blog posts and op-eds, and provide us with on-the-ground information from their region.

If you have any tips about stories, or would like to become a regional coordinator, please send us an email at this address.

Until Next Month,

IGO Watch Team