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The constitutional treaty of the EU and the response of the people

Athens Conference 13-14 December
Contribution by the general secretary of the CC Al. Paparigha

Is it a constitution?

What is being called today “the Constitution of the EU” is nothing more than a new reactionary treaty that incorporates all the previous ones, while advancing new regulations that will make things even worse for the working people of Europe, and will mean that the peoples of the new member states are entering on even less favourable terms.

The jurisdiction of the EU is being further expanded, as are its exclusive competencies. In the name of fighting terrorism, military interventions are legalised – even in member states’ internal affairs – on the basis of article 1-42.1a.

The so-called “Euro-Constitution” is being set above the national constitutions of the member-states, so as to forestall or delete anything that might be regarded as or might actually be progressive, under changes in the correlation of forces on the national level.

What necessity imposed the so-called euro-constitution?

It looks deceptively like a Constitution, among other things, in order to obtain the consent of the peoples and to acquire democratic legalisation; in order to defend the status of the bourgeoisie within the context of the class struggle that will intensify as social and class conflicts become more acute. The people will have additional sufferings because of the economic recession that has hit the strong capitalist economies of the EU. The cycle of the crisis will hit other countries, such as Greece, which appear today to be on an upward path owing to its GNP.

The new treaty is being put forward in order to impose inequality by statute, starting with the new countries, and in order to advance competition for spheres of influence inside and outside the EU.

The main reason why the “Euro-Constitution” was wanted has to do with the argument that it is needed chiefly because of the increase in the number of member-states, that is for operating and organisational reasons.

In this sense, it is not realistic to say: Yes To The “Euro-Constitution” But No To It. No Variants Will Change Its Substance. There can be no progressive constitution any more than there can be a progressive Maastricht.

Contradictions and the intervention of the people

It is not accidental that the celebrations that accompanied the drafting of the constitutional treaty were rapidly stifled by the conflicts that appeared. These conflicts are not related to the future of the peoples, but to the special interests of the ruling class in the member-states. It is clear that the people’s protests are increasing, together with those concerning the “Euro-Constitution”.

The new countries are capitalist today; but almost all of them had previously lived under the socialist system with gains in labour, health, education, culture, housing, and welfare; and although these gains have been lost, their memory lives on. The capitalist governments of the “new” countries, who express the interests of their new bourgeois class, want to be hitched to the strong capitalist pole that is the EU, the so-called old Europe, in order to feel more certain of their power.

However, we cannot ignore the referendums that took place in these countries. Despite the volleys of one-sided propaganda in favour of the EU and the deficient or non-existent information about the terms of accession, a significant 40-50% did not even bother going out to vote, while another 25-30%, primarily in the Baltic states, were deprived of their right to vote! The mass abstention and the obstacles that hindered the peoples of these countries from expressing their views demonstrate that even before the new states enter the EU, distrust (euro-scepticism) is widespread, owing to the effects that they are already feeling and will feel even more strongly in the future.

The basic characteristics of the new treaty

By means of the so-called “Euro-Constitution”, a more comprehensive framework is created for open class exploitation and oppression; there is less equality, to the advantage of the more powerful countries; an official hard core is created comprising the powerful imperialist countries. An integral part of the “Euro-Constitution” is the militarisation of the EU, since a new arms race is being launched to support NATO and supplement it wherever necessary. The US doctrine of “pre-emptive” war is adopted. The range of interventional action by the EU rapid deployment forces is extended. Militarisation goes hand in hand with reinforcing state terrorism and repression.

Regarding the notorious solidarity in the event of military aggression, regardless of whether it will be potential or compulsory, it is more clearly taken over by NATO.

It should be noted that there are disputes on the question of militarisation as well, due to conflicts of interest, and it appears that competition in the defence sector will become sharper, and will increase. The EU hard core, scheming to deal with the prospect of competition with the USA in defence, is creating hard-core groupings, irrespective of temporary compromises, such as that of the summit meeting of foreign ministers in Naples, with the German-French-British agreement on European defence compatible with NATO commitments. The structured collaboration between the powerful imperialist countries of the EU with the participation of Great Britain, the closest, most constant ally of the USA, augurs new Iraqs.

Competition in defence will become more acute both inside Europe and beyond. It will be competition in aggression; it will be extortion, military pressures to share the spoils; it will be war. These developments add new threats to peace and to every people’s right to select their own path of economic and social development. It is not accidental that the enlargement of the EU goes hand in hand with the enlargement of NATO. Nor has anyone failed to notice that the EU member-states are also members of NATO and vice versa. Thus through their decisions, the EU, the US and NATO as a whole legalise pre-emptive military intervention in the name of averting a terrorist threat. Today the ambition of the EU is to become a second watchdog, alongside the US.

The arms race, including nuclear weapons, will strike a new blow against the living standards and rights of the working class and the poorer strata of the population. Once again the peoples will be used to shed their blood in the interests of the imperialists. Military interventions will take place by decision of the Council, circumventing national parliaments, i.e. circumventing even these institutions of bourgeois democracy.

Another component of the new treaty is the further surrender of sovereign rights, which strikes the peoples while strengthening the bourgeois class in every member-state. The so-called new “Constitution” is placed above national constitutions and acquires an active role in reactionary intervention in the political system on the national level. The new member states are affected in particular, in the sense that their peoples will pay a heavy price.

As a red herring designed to deceive and mislead, a Charter of Fundamental Rights is being incorporated into the constitutional treaty as though it were an achievement and indeed a particularly positive one, as though the Charter were going to abolish the principles and directives established by the treaty of Maastricht. The supporters of the centre-left are also moving in this direction, as are late-blooming anti-capitalists, who are in essence putting forward a mild management model, utopian and controversial, which the prevailing policy can easily embrace.

After the Charter was drafted and before being incorporated, it drew much criticism as being retrogressive in terms of rights. This Charter includes fewer rights than those contained in many constitutions of bourgeois republics and falls short even of the European Convention on Human Rights. All freedoms are recognised for employers:

It includes a few hypocritical declarations e.g. about protecting personal data (article II-8) or the right to freedom of expression (article II-11), when in practice through EU policy these rights have been violated – with the support of the governments of the new countries – by the Schengen Accord and Europol which violate the right of freedom of expression by prohibiting antiwar mobilisations, penalising trade-union activity, removing the right to vote from hundreds of thousands of citizens and minorities, and banning the operation and action of communist parties, the use of socialist symbols etc.

The Fraud Of Democratic Procedures

The governments of the EU and the parties that support it argue that the “convention” was a democratic process. This is a big lie. From the very outset its composition was such as to exclude annoying voices that would have supported the peoples’ interests. Of the 207 regular members and observers, only 10 were against the federalisation of the EU and nobody was against Maastricht or the war in Yugoslavia.

We lived it in Greece too. The representatives of the “drafting assembly” were appointed by PASOK, ND and SYN, which are all in favour of the EU. But the third party in Parliament was not represented, i.e. the CPG whose views and struggles are regarded as annoying.

It has become ever more urgent to inform and mobilise the peoples, since the EU mechanisms of ideological intervention have launched a campaign to suppress the essence and to misinform the peoples of Europe about the new treaty.


1. Opposition to the so-called “European constitution”, in our view, must acquire substantial class content on the national and European level, and not remain focused on the letter of the law or on procedures, e.g. decision-making or the weight of a vote. The procedures and laws aim at specific class goals and have been shaped with these goals in mind.

2. We communist and workers’ parties – through our action and in conjunction with anti-imperialist, anti-monopoly forces, peace and youth movements – must contribute to convincing the peoples to make the sacrifices necessary to defend their right to live in a Europe of social well-being and peace.

3. We must organise an information campaign in every country and on a Europe-wide level as well.

4. We must support the NO vote in any countries that hold a referendum. NO to the “Euro-Constitution”, and NO to the policy of the EU monopolies must become component elements in the battle of the European elections.

5. We must form fronts of common action and cooperation to defend the rights of the working people and democratic rights, to fight against the police state, the European army, and the militarisation of the EU, which is an integral part of the imperialist world order, and to struggle for the right of every people to choose their own path of development, and for their sovereign rights.

6. Parties and movements should organise major demonstrations in all EU member states on 9th May, the anniversary of the day World War II ended, which will be utilised by governments to project and idealise the EU and its so-called constitution.

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