An inglorious anniversary
WORKERS, APR 2007 ISSUE
Fifty years ago six European countries came together and signed the Treaty of Rome, creating the European Union's forerunner, the EEC. This shoddy anniversary went, thankfully, almost unremarked in Britain. Even the TUC, often the cheerleader for Europhiles, stayed silent.
Not so the European TUC, whose general secretary is none other than the former TUC general secretary John Monks. It used the opportunity to call for progress on the dead-duck European Constitution, without which, it said, the "European project" might stall. Well, it's nice to know that the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has a loyal ally somewhere.
Time, then, to think about what this European project is. It is to create a continent fit for capitalism. One where goods and capital can move freely across borders, destroying industries and asset-stripping nations. One where workers are free to move across borders to act as cheap labour. One where the nation states of Europe, through which all the progress achieved by the working classes of Europe has been made, are destroyed.
What is worth a celebration, though, is that half a century into the European Union, they are still a long way off their dream of a European super state. With the constitution rejected in France and the Netherlands, and the government unable even to go to a referendum in Britain, that state has stalled.
Beware, though, the attempts being made to get "the project" moving again. Germany's Merkel, taking advantage of her country's sixmonth presidency of the European Union, is actively pushing the idea of a new treaty that incorporates all the key ideas of the constitution but which can simply be signed by heads of state. No more referendums, then.
We can also celebrate our non-inclusion in the euro. Despite all the warnings of gloom and doom and the threat of being left behind, Britain is still without this financial shackle.
In fact, being left behind is increasingly recognised around Europe as the right place to be. Polls in Germany show that most regret losing the mark and joining the euro – not, of course, that they ever had a chance to vote on it.
That we have managed to keep out of the euro is no thanks to the trade union movement, which by and large has been a cheerleader for this denial of British independence. Workers have opposed it, but allowed their own organisations to support it. Such tolerance must end. Out of the European Union now!