Having its roots in east Germany, the members of the PDS, together with the whole east German population, were thrown into the EU overnight by German unification.
Denying Germany's experience as a member of the EU did not seem to be a practical possibility.
All the more so, as the European Union's birth and development has been driven by two different motives - the desire of the peoples on the continent for peace after two world wars and the demand of capital for a wider market.
At least in the first respect, 50 years of European integration have been a success - this is the longest period of peace among nations, like Germany and France or Britain, thought to be "arch-enemies" forever.
For the PDS as a German left party to prefer a wider international entity to an isolated national development of Germany seems natural for yet another reason.
Why should the German state, with its historical record, be more peaceful externally and more socially just internally when drawing back on its own rather than being bound by the obligations and interests of a bigger Europe?
In our country, eurosceptic and europhobic sentiments are fanned mainly by the conservative right, the extreme right and even neonazi forces, which present themselves as the defenders of Germany's national might and glory.
Perhaps this has made it easier for the PDS to be euro-constructive rather than eurosceptic.
With this distinct profile, it has won increasing support in European elections - 4.7 per cent in 1994, 5.8 per cent in 1999 and 6.1 per cent in 2004.
That is more than it hitherto received in national elections. With seven MEPs, it is among the strongest national groups in the GUE/NGL group of the European Parliament.
This does not mean that we are satisfied with the European Union's present complexion.
We see Europe's ruling policy as being on the wrong track. It costs the majority of people dearly when social systems are dismantled and destroyed, when daily life is marked by mass unemployment and downward competition.
There is the need for a change of policy towards a social, democratic and peaceful Europe.
We want a EU which gives priority to the constitutional goal of full employment and social progress, an EU with democratic, transparent and unbureaucratic institutions and decision-making processes, where people are not viewed as objects but as actors of policies, where the equality of men and women is realised and any kind of discrimination resolutely fought, an EU whose enlargement is carried out in solidarity, where neither old nor new member states and regions are disadvantaged by structural policies.
We want an EU respecting international law and the UN charter, refusing military force for conflict solution, being free of weapons of mass destruction and ending its arms exports.
We want an EU which, as part of this one world, promotes equal international political and economic relations, lives up to its commitments for global environmental and climatic protection and guarantees comprehensive consumer protection.
We see it as logical and important that the EU gives itself a constitution which grants equal and legally documented human rights to all persons living within its borders.
A European constitution should keep open the possibilities for alternative economic orders, further democratise the EU and take account of the diversity of cultures, world views and religions. Such a document must be decided by the people in a referendum.
In important respects, the draft constitution worked out by the European convention does not live up to these demands.
It is commendable that the charter of basic and social rights was integrated into the draft. But the draft obligates all EU countries to a military build-up.
It fosters the militarisation of the EU. Neoliberal competition policy is to acquire constitutional rank.
The increase in democracy that would be achieved through the document is not enough. These other backward steps override and deform the progress reached. Therefore, the PDS says No to the constitutional draft as it stands.
As we see it, Europe's bad shape is linked partly to the fact that the left has been unable to influence its development in a tangible manner. As a political force, it is weak, splintered, acting mainly within national borders and in little harmony.
At a time when the EU is facing the historic challenges of managing its biggest ever enlargement and giving itself constitutional shape, the left is obliged to concentrate its political and intellectual potential, to present to the people more convincing alternatives and to organise stronger common action.
That was the main motive for the PDS to join others in the historic decision to found a common Party of the European Left ( www.european-left.org). This step was not based merely on theoretical considerations. It is the outcome of years of practical experience of the parties with other forms of co-operation.
The PDS has been an active member of NELF since 1995 and of the GUE/NGL group in the European parliament since 1999. These structures of common work which remain valuable and are to be continued proved to be insufficient in the new circumstances.
The PDS is deeply convinced that drawing back to one's own national quarters cannot be the left's answer to the ongoing process of internationalisation.
The Party of the European Left, which is only a few months old, will be a stronger political force in Europe, more able to leave its mark on the future of the EU, a theoretically and practically more potent, yet absolutely equal, partner to the social movements - which have long understood the necessity of acting at a European level, as the European Social Forums are teaching us - and an organisational structure ready to fill the gap on the left at a time when European parties are becoming political actors within the EU with all the related gains - seats in the EP, finances and so on.
The European electorate would not forgive the left if it were to miss such an opportunity to fight for their interests.
â¢ Helmut Ettinger is international secretary of Germany's Party of Democratic Socialism.