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The EU can't be 'reformed' to benefit the working class

No amount of tinkering will change the European Union's neoliberal heart, says BILL GREENSHIELDS

There are those in the movement who kid themselves that the European Union can be turned into a social democratic project to improve working people's lives.

It can't. It is, and was always designed to be, a thoroughly anti-democratic corporate juggernaut out of the control of the people of Europe, and very much in the control of European capital.

Some others want to believe that any structure that crosses national borders must in some way be internationalist at heart.

What they neglect is the class origin, ownership and purpose of such structures - a bit of a serious omission.

The anti-EU case was put again by Bob Crow and Linda Kaucher at the Communist Party's recent 21st Century Marxism event, with Crow clearly identifying the "fundamental and irreversible" neoliberal anti-working-class character of the EU, and Kaucher taking us through the imminent US/EU Free Trade Agreement, including the rights of individual corporations to sue any government taking any action which could be considered to limit their right to unfettered profit.

The Communist Party is fully committed to the No2EU European election alliance of socialists and trade unionists, standing for withdrawal from the EU on the basis of socialist policies and with the campaign slogan of "No2EU - Yes To Workers' Rights."

This is in stark class contrast to the call by big finance capital, reported by CityUK, "strongly in favour" of continued EU membership.

Britain is just 20 per cent of the way into the ruling class austerity measures, part of the EU-orchestrated attack on all European workers.

The EU has used Greece as a testing ground for cataclysmic austerity.

Greek people are on average almost 40 per cent poorer than before the EU, European Central Band and International Monetary Fund troika imposed strict austerity.

EU-led cuts, mass privatisation and tax rises have created massive unemployment and eroded domestic consumption which accounts for about three-quarters of GDP.

Yet the troika announced that it's not enough. Even the pro-EU Greek government's budget is "insufficient and unreliable." Further austerity must be imposed.

In Britain, we can expect the same as and when corporate interests demand it, and their coalition government and EU club organise it.

The EU uses the economic crisis to accelerate neoliberal "globalisation" structural adjustment.

Nothing must hinder the free movement of goods, capital, services and people.

EU treaties allow corporate capitalism to operate unhindered by any use by workers of national democratic structures. These are the EU's unreformable foundations.

Just about all the motions passed at TUC Congress - for the renationalisation of our railways and postal services, for trade union rights and an end to austerity - are prevented by EU rules.

Decisions of the European Court of Justice in the Viking, Laval, Ruffert and Luxemburg cases take us back over 100 years to the Taff Vale judgement when any trade union activity was declared by the bosses to be "restraint of trade."

Ed Miliband wants to freeze energy prices, despite his capitulation on renationalisation, but is simultaneously committed to an EU single market in energy.

Price freezes, let alone nationalisation, are incompatible with the EU market - expressly forbidden by its rules.

With a "liberalised" energy policy, the EU will not allow imported energy to be subject to price restrictions by national governments.

Miliband opposes the privatisation of the NHS - but not the EU services directive and EU/US trade deal which give multinational corporations the right to tender for all health services.

EU treaties ban state intervention or large-scale public investment to stimulate demand - so preventing even the possibility of full employment.

But European Commission president Jacques Delors addressed TUC 25 years ago promising full employment, workers' rights and protection from Tory free-market policies in return for full support for the "European project," which he presented as "the only game in town."

Have working people reaped any of these promised benefits?

The concept of "social Europe" is, at best, self-deception and wishful thinking and, at worst, the result of defeatism wrapped up in a big lie to make it more palatable in the short term.


To attempt to reform finance capital's ruthless corporate club into the workers' friend is about as sensible as trying to keep a man-eating crocodile as a pet in your bathroom.

You'd have to be stupid or self-destructive.

Ultimately the EU has one business model - privatisation, deregulation and driving down wages, policies that Ukip and the Tory Eurosceptics support 100 per cent.

Ukip seeks to hide its anti-working-class, anti-public-sector policies behind its anti-EU rhetoric.

Eurosceptic Tories are concerned that further European integration might hamper US penetration of euro financial markets.

Both are dominated by monopoly corporate and financial interests. Neither stand for working people - thus the essential role of No2EU, and the call to leave the EU and rebuild Britain with socialist policies.

It's past time that the working-class movement faced reality. The capitalist ruling class owns the EU, lock, stock and two smoking barrels.

We need to rely on the development of the strength of our own class, not in kow-towing to their diktats.

We need to work hard now to get this message across to the working-class electorate who will vote in 2014 - or hand the anti-EU field to the Tories, Ukip and the fascists.


Bill Greenshields is chairman of the Communist Party of Britain.


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