The European Union wants to shackle the nations of Europe in order to maximise profits. Immersed in crisis, it seeks to control every aspect of social and economic life...
This article is an edited version of a speech given to a public meeting organised by the CPBML in Conway Hall, London on 27 September.
Take a look at the European Commission’s official website, at the job opportunities section. It bills itself as a modern administration. It says you can be placed in any member state in the exciting role of administrator. “As a vital member of staff, you can find yourself playing a key role in the European Union’s legislative and budgeting processes...coordinating the broad economic policies of member states.” What a fantastic job to have! I don’t think so: the power to affect member states by your decision is not something we should relish.
What is it about the European Union, which is designed to invade every area of our lives? The fact is that European legislative policies attempt to infect our national identity and further destroy who we are as a working class.
EU crisis meeting, Brussels, 19 October: 23 languages, 22 summits since the euro crisis began, zero solutions – united only by hatred of workers.
Photo: Council of the European Union – M@S
The European Union has developed policies designed to ensure the free movement of people, goods, services and capital – its key aim. This is the main way to provide maximum profits while eroding working class wages. It operates by a system of supranational, independent institutions, with negotiated decisions by the member states. The EU could not impose on the peoples of Europe without its important institutions, especially the European Commission, the Court of Justice and the European Central Bank. Its political centres are not based in Britain but in Brussels, Luxembourg and Strasbourg. Whenever a British Embassy closes down overseas it is noticeable that European Union bureaucrats immediately move in.
Since 2009 the euro has been immersed in the European sovereign debt crisis. In July 2012 the value of the euro fell below the US dollar for the first time in two years. So-called “austerity” measures forced upon the member states have little impact on this crisis but allow the ECB and EU leaders to hold Greece, Ireland, Spain, Portugal and Italy to ransom. We see people within Europe having to resort to food banks to assist with everyday living. Pensions become worthless and it is an ongoing struggle to survive. This is the human side of being governed by the EU. It is what happens when your sovereign borders are wiped out.
We may not have the euro but the British working class does experience numerous restrictions that the EU places on our everyday lives. It shackles us in terms of a nation and more importantly the ability to choose how we live. EU regulations and directives attempt to govern every aspect of life. In our working lives we see increased laws to restrict our ability to organise. The crisis measures being taken have a huge impact on our pensions and how long we stay in a job.
We have seen our manufactures replaced with cheap imitations of quality work. The ability to have a British workforce has been eroded in favour of opening up to EU labour market forces, thus diluting our ability to produce and sell to a world market. Comradeship across industries and workforces is eroded as industry shuts down, never to reopen under capitalism.
Yet we could make all the goods that we need to be able to feed ourselves, control our territorial waters, and trade with the world as a sovereign nation. European trade accounts for just 20 per cent of Global trade – we can trade with the other 80 per cent and still trade with Europe from outside the European Union.
Migration from Europe has increased, causing a rise in youth unemployment in Britain. Migration Watch says that between the first quarter of 2004 and the third quarter of 2011, employment in Britain of workers born in the so-called A8 countries that joined the EU in 2004 increased by 600,000; over the same period unemploy-ment of young people here increased by a similar amount. It doubled from 575,000 to just over 1 million. We need a genuine informed debate on immigration and labour mobility – before the British working class is divided by the EU.
The attack on our way of life continues with a government riding on the coattails of the EU. For example employers can now sack workers on the grounds of lack of capability or poor performance without giving any explanation. Another case is the Health and Social Care Act, actively encouraging any provider to offer services, breaking up our national treasure.
The transfer of public services employees to the private sector is part of a strategy to reduce unionisation and to create a flexible labour market. Union membership in Germany fell by 23 per cent between 1993 and 2003 from 11.6 million to 8.8 million. In Britain union membership fell over the same period by 12 per cent from 8.8 million to 7.6 million. Private companies are less likely to be unionised than the public sector. In Britain 62 per cent of the public sector workforce is unionised compared with 20 per cent private sector. Who is benefiting? Not the British working class.
Links to United States
Much is said by europhiles about Europe being a protection against the US. Not so – they work hand in glove. In 1990 the Transatlantic Declaration formalised relations between the European Union and the US.
The key areas of co-operation include not only political, trade and economic relations but active co operation on global challenges. What do they mean by global challenges? What we would call efforts by developing nations to lift themselves out of poverty, as in Cuba and other states inspired by them. Viva revolution for Cuba – a beacon in terms of standing up to this powerful nation. It lifts the spirit of what a country can do if they are collective in their stand.
The European Union and the US meet regularly at presidential summits, and the Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC) provides a high-level forum to address areas like investment, financial markets, accounting standards and secure trade (in whose interests?). Chaired by the EU trade commissioner and US deputy national security advisor, it advances economic integration. Then there is the Trans Atlantic Consumer Dialogue, which issues recommendations on policy making on food, trade, health and intellectual property issues. And naturally a Trans Atlantic Business Dialogue to help establish a barrier-free transatlantic market. All this is backed up by a Trans Atlantic Legislators Dialogue to foster relations between the European Parliament and US congress. The 2011 EU–US Presidential summit focused on economic growth, without of course doing anything about growth.
The British working class needs to organise and be ruthless in campaigning for a no vote in a referendum on the EU. British workers want and demand a referendum from a non-mandated government. The latest opinion polls show 70 per cent of British workers want a referendum on the EU. The Coalition government may disagree – with Kenneth Clarke MP in June 2012 stating, “I cannot think of anything sillier to do than hold a referendum.” This is the position of a government that puts profit before the British working class.
What can we do to campaign? We can show that the capitalist club in Europe does not work. The EU is in crisis both economically and politically. We can appeal to millions of workers on the loss of our liberty, our unity, loss of jobs and industries, loss of our skills, loss of identity and loss of sovereignty.
As we continue to fight capitalism and greed within our own borders we also need to extend our comradeship to working classes across Europe so that we can bring about the destruction of the European Union. Our Greek comrades have a banner proclaiming People of Europe unite. There is no such thing as European people. There is each nation with its own working class, with its own interest at heart. We need to grasp that our country is our culture and identity and leave the EU. ■