A World in Despair

How Subsidies create Poverty

Author: Ralph Quinke

Length: 52'

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The vicious circle has its origins in European subsidization practices: Encouraged by generous EU funding, European farmers produce around ten percent more milk than domestic consumers can drink. The bulk of this excess supply is converted into milk powder and exported to developing countries. The EU also offers plenty of subsidies for converting fresh milk into powder and for exporting it. The consequence is that European milk powder is exported to third-world countries at prices far lower than those which could be achieved by local production. As a result, national milk producers are unable to compete as imported milk powder is far cheaper. This is subsidization at its craziest and at the expense of the poorest of the poor. The fishers of Mbour in Senegal are also victims of EU subsidization policies: They once sailed out to sea and returned with nets full. These days, they often return to the port with boats less than half full of fish. This is because there is hardly anything left to catch. The waters off the coast of West Africa have been fished dry by large factory ships from Europe, Russia or Japan. The catches of the European fleets are sanctioned at the highest level as the European Union has bought the coastal fishing rights from the poor African countries. The EU also funds the construction and fitting-out of the giant ships as well as their fuel. And because the fishers of Senegal can hardly earn any money from fishing, many convert their ships and rent them to traffickers who smuggle refugees from West Africa into the Canary Islands. The resultant pictures can be seen around the world. Those lucky enough survive the trip through hell. And those with even greater fortune receive a Spanish passport. And an even smaller number of lucky people may even find a job, perhaps as a sailor on board a Spanish factory ship operating off the coast of West Africa. And so the circle closes.

year of production: 2007

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