Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/493/2566

From The Socialist newspaper, 28 June 2007

It's business as usual as European summit ignores public opposition

French and Dutch voters defeated the 2004 draft European Union (EU) constitution when they voted No to it in 2005. These votes revealed massive distrust towards EU politicians and institutions and shocked the EU member governments.

However, with sheer hypocrisy, the European capitalist govern-ments preach about democracy, then when European people express their will it is ignored. Just before those 2005 referendums, Luxembourg's prime minister summarised this attitude by saying: "If it's a Yes, we will say 'on we go', and if it's a No we will say 'we continue'."

Continuing they are. At last week's EU summit, they hauled the constitution out of deep freeze and repackaged it as a "reform treaty" to make it appear as something different.

A recent FT/Harris poll on whether there should be a public vote on the new treaty was answered Yes by 75% of Spaniards, 71% of Germans, 69% of Britons, 68% of Italians and 64% of French. But to avoid calling referendums, the treaty is being called a "simplified" version of the original, is no longer called a 'constitution' and has been stripped of some of the overt appearances of European identity, such as a flag, motto and anthem.

The main features of the 2004 draft, though, remain. There will be a full-time European Council president, a foreign policy chief, fewer national vetoes in the decision-making process and the EU will have "legal personality".

Decisions in the now 27-strong EU will be made using a "double majority" voting system involving the agreement of 55% of states 'representing' 65% of the EU population.

This means a re-weighting of countries' voting power that so enraged the Polish leaders that they strongly opposed it. They only backed down when they forced an agreement that it would not be imposed fully until 2017 and after German prime minister Angela Merkel said the whole treaty would be sealed without Poland if necessary.

Tony Blair (backed by Gordon Brown) agreed to lose the right of veto in many policy areas, but scandalously insisted on Britain still being exempted from some EU laws, including on fundamental social and workplace rights and on criminal law.

New French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, sprung a "coup" by achieving the removal of the EU core objective of "free and undistorted competition", a central clause that had existed over the EU's entire 50 years. Sarkozy wants to give French workers the idea that he is removing the neo-liberal content of the treaty and is giving protection to French industry and jobs.

In reality though he is going to pursue a brutal neo-liberal agenda in France. His stance amounted to demagogic posturing aimed at a French audience together with preparedness to defend the interests of French big business, and European business to some extent too.

He got away with his manoeuvre because the most ardent EU neo-liberalists know that the goal of unfettered trade is still mentioned in 13 other places in EU legislation.

However, this did not prevent an outcry from many capitalist representatives. One leading anti-trust lawyer described the change as a "catastrophe". Other top lawyers argue - probably correctly - that the change will make it harder to stop protectionism, state aid and cartels.

John Cridland of the CBI, the UK bosses' organisation, complained: "It is not just a cosmetic change - it represents a long-term threat to free competition and will strengthen the hand of protectionists within the EU in the years ahead".

For the ruling classes, this goes against one of the main purposes of the EU, to have a single market in order to strengthen European companies against those of non-European world powers. They also want the advantages of having a common border and they want the EU to be a weapon against the working class and therefore be an aid to privatisation, welfare cuts, deregulation etc.

For a socialist Europe

As always at these summits, national interests came constantly into play. The hostile bartering culminated in a huge row in the final early-hours session, before 'agreement' was declared.

While hurling around recriminations, they also all want to appear to occupy the moral high ground. For instance Italian prime minister Romano Prodi complained about the "lack of common European spirit" and said: "Allow me to be embittered by the spectacle I find before me".

Most of the 490 million people in the EU are kept out of the debate and machinations going on. In any case, as Financial Times writer Gideon Rachman commented, the Reform Treaty is "almost impossible to read or understand".

The EU leaders' intention is now to get it rubber stamped by the member states' parliaments, to avoid referendums that might scupper it (though Ireland and Denmark are considering referendums on the basis that they think they can get a Yes vote). In particular, the Dutch, French and British governments are desperate to avoid referendums.

In Britain, some leading Tories have already attacked Gordon Brown for unwillingness to hold a referendum, but if he holds one, it could well be a No vote. Polls suggest that about a third of UK voters support exiting the EU altogether, and a further third 'don't know'.

In one British poll, 55% of people either had not heard of the EU constitution or only knew of its name, nevertheless when asked if they supported having a full-time EU president, only 14% said Yes. Only 10% support EU law over-riding British law (as it does on many issues).

British people should have the opportunity to vote against this latest anti-working class treaty, together with Blair and Brown's stance against adopting basic workers' rights on working hours etc. Working-class people throughout Europe are right to be suspicious of the EU leaders' intentions.

No support should be given to any of the projects of the capitalist EU, nor to the pro-capitalist euro-sceptics who promote a more nationalist agenda.

Workers want jobs and living standards to be protected and improved, but neither free trade nor protectionism is the answer (see centre page feature).

The only answer is to fight for a socialist Europe. The European working class, acting together, will need to achieve a situation where all treaties will be fully and democratically debated and designed to serve the interests of an overwhelming majority of Europe's 728 million people, rather than the interests of the capitalist elites.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 28 June 2007:

Support postal workers

'We're fighting back'

Rail union backs postal strikers

Public anger at post office closure

Heanor postal workers seven day strike


National Shop Stewards Network

National Shop Stewards network: Rank and file getting organised

Come to the National shop stewards' network Founding conference

Outside Manchester's Gordonville 'bubble'


Socialist Party NHS campaign

Save our NHS


Socialist Party news and analysis

"Pottsamoney" put on the spot

Harman's promotion

No to mergers, no to cuts

Save Ryeish Green school


Socialism 2007

Come to Socialism 2007


Socialist Party events

Socialist Party summer camp


What we think

It's business as usual as European summit ignores public opposition


Socialist Party Marxist analysis

World economy grows but workers lose out


Socialist Party workplace news

Unison leadership launches a witch-hunt

Missed opportunity at NUT executive


Socialist Party LGBT

Pride not profit

London Pride 2007 Homophobia - it's so not over!


Socialist Party review

Rehabilitating Stalin?


International socialist news and analysis

Nigeria: Four-day general strike ends

USA: Protesters demand military recruiters out of schools


 

Home   |   The Socialist 28 June 2007   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

Netherlands:

triangleTurkey: Erdogan seeks sweeping dictatorial powers in referendum

triangleNetherlands: Heavy defeat for austerity government

triangleRMT defeats ScotRail bosses: The guard stays on the train

triangleEurope and the workers' movement after Brexit

European:

triangleTories torn - bin them now

triangleCatalonia: Workers can finish what Puigdemont won't

triangleEyewitness: Irish socialist MP participates in events

triangleTravel chaos for Ryanair customers as airline cancels thousands of flights

EU:

triangleThe Tories must be driven out

triangleAnti-austerity opposition needed to seize on Tories' weakness

Capitalist:

triangleRussia, October 1917: When workers took power

Working class:

triangleNasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

Britain:

triangleCan you donate to the Socialism 2017 appeal?

Competition:

triangleNationalise to save jobs at BAE Systems

Gordon Brown:

triangleHow Blairism sank its claws into the Labour Party

European Union:

triangleGlobal finance: Are those storm clouds ahead?

France:

triangleFrench Labour reform protests

Tony Blair:

triangleFrom Militant to the Socialist Party

International

International

18/10/17

Hong Kong

Campaign against political repression in Hong Kong

11/10/17

Catalonia

Catalonia: Workers can finish what Puigdemont won't

4/10/17

Catalonia

Solidarity with Catalonia - the people have the right to decide

4/10/17

Catalonia

Eyewitness: Irish socialist MP participates in events

2/10/17

Catalonia

Exemplary resistance by the people of Catalonia

27/9/17

Germany

Germany: Election results in political earthquake

27/9/17

Catalonia

Strike against Madrid's 'state of emergency'!

27/9/17

Germany

German elections: rise of the far right and right-wing government will provoke resistance

27/9/17

France

French Labour reform protests

25/9/17

Catalonia

Catalonia: Student strike called

20/9/17

Myanmar

Brutal repression of Rohingya people sparks massive humanitarian crisis

20/9/17

Catalonia

Solidarity with Catalonia in the Spanish state

15/9/17

Germany

Berlin hospital strike

13/9/17

Korea

Korean peninsula: is nuclear war likely?

13/9/17

Students

Interview with leader of students' union in the Spanish state: "When we fight, we win!"

triangleMore International articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle19 Oct Arriva North West bus drivers strike over pay

triangle18 Oct Russia, October 1917: When workers took power

triangle18 Oct Tories torn - bin them now

triangle13 Oct The end of the Tories?

triangle11 Oct Nasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

triangle11 Oct CWU fights court attempt to stop national strike

triangle11 Oct The fight against racial discrimination is tied to fighting against...

More ...

triangle19 Oct Waltham Forest Young Socialists: Deaths in police custody

triangle19 Oct Swansea Socialist Party: Spanish revolution 1936-37

triangle19 Oct Cardiff East Socialist Party: Is equality for women possible under capitalism?

triangle19 Oct Wirral Socialist Party: The October 1917 Russian Revolution

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2