Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Socialist Case for Exit

Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/923/23873

From The Socialist newspaper, 2 November 2016

EU-Canada trade deal battle points to Corbyn's Brexit opportunity

photo Edda Dietrich/Creative Commons

photo Edda Dietrich/Creative Commons   (Click to enlarge)

Clive Heemskerk, Socialist Party executive committee

The saga of the on-off-and-on again trade agreement between Canada and the European Union (EU) holds important lessons for how Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters could use the Brexit negotiations to build a European-wide workers' opposition to the EU bosses' club.

The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the EU has now been signed, at a hastily re-arranged ceremony for the Canadian premier, Justin Trudeau. But this was only possible after the federal government of Belgium, the only EU member state yet to approve CETA, was forced to agree a last-minute four-page 'interpretation' of the treaty with the country's regional parliaments.

Opposition to CETA had come in particular from the self-governing parliament of Wallonia, with a government coalition led by the Socialist Party (PS), one of Labour's sister parties in the European parliament.

Belatedly reflecting workers' concerns, the PS Wallonia premier Paul Magnette criticised the CETA 'Investor-State Dispute Settlement' plan which will allow corporations to sue states for losses if their business interests were 'infringed' by government action.

Like the proposed EU Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the US, CETA threatens consumer safety, environmental protections and workers' rights, and generally enhances the power of big business over democratically-elected governments.

In the event the Walloon government backed down for what are minor concessions, with Belgium now able to seek a European Court of Justice ruling on whether the new investor courts system is compatible with EU law. But the fact that negotiations inaugurated in 2004 came so close to being derailed is very significant for the Brexit debate.

No unity

The first lesson is that the capitalist politicians of the different EU member states are not united, reflecting the character of the EU as, at bottom, a series of agreements between the competing national capitalist classes of Europe.

The EU Commission is approaching the coming Brexit negotiations with the intention of 'punishing Britain', as 'an example to others'. In reality, however, there will be no such thing as 'an EU position' but the different positions of 27 capitalist nation states - and the working class in each of those states.

In times of economic growth it has been possible to achieve unity among the 'capitalist thieves'. But smoothing over the problems caused when one or another section of the capitalist class in a particular country have not had their interests met in treaty negotiations, is more difficult in an era of stagnation.

The Wallonia government especially objected to the impact of CETA on Belgian farmers. Such disputes will be as nothing compared to the inter-capitalist divisions that will emerge in the Brexit negotiations.

More important, however, is how the saga shows that the capitalist politicians are also subject to the pressure of the working class, with their interests against austerity, privatisation and the neoliberal policies of the EU.

The Wallonia PS had to at least appear to make a 'left' stand against CETA because, as the Guardian noted (29 October), it was "under pressure" from the left-wing Workers' Party of Belgium (PTB/PvdA), "which is making inroads into Wallonia, a region of above-average unemployment".

The PTB broke through into the Walloon parliament in May 2014, but it only has two seats out of 75. Imagine then the impact Labour under Jeremy Corbyn could have on EU debates!

It is the working class, with no permanent interest in capitalism, which has the greatest possibility of reaching a common position - on socialist terms for trade arrangements with Canada or on Brexit - if a bold lead is given.

A Labour Party thoroughly transformed into a socialist, anti-austerity workers' party, committed to democratic public ownership of the economy and defiance of the pro-market, anti-worker and austerity-driving EU institutions, could play a pivotal role in building such unity.

Socialist alliance?

After the recent EU summit Jeremy Corbyn was reported to be "inviting left-wing leaders from across Europe to an alternative meeting on Brexit in London" (Guardian, 21 October).

A bold stand by Corbyn against the anti-working class treaties and policies of the EU would electrify the debate across Europe.

CETA has only been signed into force on a temporary basis, subject to final approval by 38 national and regional assemblies.

Why not propose its scrapping as a negotiation 'red line' for a new relationship with the EU? And the abandonment of TTIP talks with the US, the end of the austerity-driving European Fiscal Compact, the write-off of the Eurozone debts, etc?

But who could Jeremy appeal to in order to fight for such a programme? The Belgian PS, which ultimately went along with CETA, or the PTB? The Irish Anti Austerity Alliance-Socialist Party TDs (members of the Irish parliament) being persecuted for opposing water charges, or their persecutors, the Irish Labour Party, who faithfully implemented the EU's austerity dictates?

The battle over CETA shows how the Brexit negotiations could be used to build a fighting socialist alliance on a continental scale, a vital preparation for creating a new, socialist, Europe. The opportunity must be seized.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • We must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our Fighting Fund.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation

 

Your message: 

 


In The Socialist 2 November 2016:


What we think

Corbyn movement must seize initiative - or face defeat


Socialist Party news and analysis

Fight for decent jobs for all

Fight the 'burning' of our museums and libraries!

Battle of Orgreave: Establishment cover up continues

One third of 2010's new teachers have already quit

We are all Daniel Blake: no more deaths from benefit cuts

LGBT people need militancy, not false 'allies' like David Cameron

What we saw


Refugee solidarity

Solidarity with refugees

Demolition of Calais 'Jungle' camp - eyewitness report

My time in a detention centre


Socialist Party youth and students

Mass student strike rocks Spanish state

Glasgow School of Arts students "let us learn" revolt


International socialist news and analysis

EU-Canada trade deal battle points to Corbyn's Brexit opportunity


Environment and socialism

Heathrow expansion exposes Tory divisions


Socialist Party feature

Will workers on company boards make bosses accountable?


Workplace news and analysis

Sheffield bin workers' action strengthens in numbers and mood

Solid Southern strike continues against Britain's 'worst' train company

Newsquest strike: "It's impossible to do our jobs"

Outsourced ambulance workers strike in Tooting


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Glenfield heart unit closure: Over 1,000 march

Massive demo against A&E closure

Campaigners call on Greenwich council to oppose the Housing Act

Haringey care services face ruthless cuts and privatisation

Teaching assistants stage vigil and rally

"Our problems cannot be solved by capitalist politics"


 

Home   |   The Socialist 2 November 2016   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

EU:

triangleBelarus refugees - caught between a rock and a hard place

triangleCovid 'vaccine wars' underline failure of capitalist nation states to deal with the global pandemic

triangle2020 - a year which drove home the catastrophic failures of capitalism

triangleFood and a capitalist Brexit: No trust in Tory Deals!

triangleThe Socialist: More than a newspaper

Canada:

triangleRich countries hoarding vaccine is danger to us all

triangleNottingham: Youth protest against Barclays 64 million fossil-fuel investments

triangleThe Socialist Inbox

triangleSingle market = TTIP

Socialist:

triangleWhat did you think of Socialism 2021?

triangleSelling the Socialist

triangleObituary: Ted Austin (1940-2021) - working-class socialist stalwart

Capitalist:

triangleUSA: Right-wing vigilante Rittenhouse acquitted - capitalist courts will not defend the working class!

triangleChina: Bureaucracy grapples with new crises

Austerity:

triangleSouthampton People's budget Building an alternative to Tory and Labour austerity

Workers:

triangleSupport uni workers' walk-out on pay and pensions

European:

triangleNo trust in billionaire owners - kick them out and reclaim the game

Europe:

triangleBristol North Socialist Party: The rise of Eastern Europe's right-wing populist movements

Jeremy Corbyn:

triangleTen years since our 330-mile Jarrow March for Jobs

Belgium:

triangleBelgium: Movement against climate change grows

Labour Party:

triangleSleaze and pay a toxic mix for Tories

Ttip:

triangleA socialist approach to Corbyn and a customs union

US:

triangleWest Sussex: Payouts for council bosses, cuts for us

Big business:

triangleEnd profit-fuelled crisis

Capitalism:

triangleSunak's climate finance agenda typifies capitalism's COP26 failure

Economy:

triangleTORY BUDGET CON

Market:

triangleContainer delay carnage makes the case for socialist planning

European Union:

triangleCatalonia independence movement two years on

Eurozone:

triangleCorbyn's Brexit opportunity

Privatisation:

triangleGPs vote to reject government plans

Brexit:

triangleNorthern Ireland and Brexit

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis

24/11/21

NHS

Workers' action can defeat weak and divided Tories

24/11/21

Violence against women

End sexism and violence against women

24/11/21

Disability

The struggle for accessible workplaces and an inclusive society

24/11/21

Cricket

Cricket's history of racism and elitism

24/11/21

Cuts

Working class strangled by price rises and pay cuts

24/11/21

Eastern

HS2 eastern route cancelled: Fight for a workers' plan for public transport

24/11/21

Pensions

Tories hammer nail in pensions triple lock coffin

24/11/21

NHS

Tories responsible for NHS staff shortages

17/11/21

Sleaze

Tory sleaze scandal continues, an ex-workers' MP responds

17/11/21

Climate change

Youth fight for well-paid green jobs and socialist change

17/11/21

NHS

Cuts drag NHS to brink

17/11/21

NHS

NHS workers must take action now to save our NHS

17/11/21

NHS

Outsourced Barts health workers in strike ballot for a pay rise

17/11/21

Health

Health and care staff shortages worsened by Tory vaccine sacking threat

17/11/21

MPs

London MPs' second home swindle while workers and students struggle

triangleMore News and socialist analysis articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: [email protected]

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 077 7221 5281

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 078 0983 9793

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


November 2021

October 2021

September 2021

August 2021

July 2021

June 2021

May 2021

April 2021

March 2021

February 2021

January 2021

2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999