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With the peoples’ struggles or with the Party of the “EU-Left”? *

The climate has been changing in Europe in recent years, and the decisive factor has been the growing resistance of the people. The mass militant struggles we have seen recently have only been possible because there were forces that resisted the pressures to submit, forces that rejected corrupting “social dialogue” and class collaboration. They took place with the decisive participation and contribution of the communists and were reinforced in many ways by the international initiatives of Communist and Workers’ Parties.

It is worth remembering that just a year ago, on the eve of the major coordinated antiwar demonstrations of 15th February, the anti-war appeal of 68 Communist, Workers’ and Left Parties, among which was the KKE, was published on the initiative of the CP of Bohemia Moravia. It was one of the broadest and most significant initiatives in recent years. We would note simply that very few of the parties who were invited to sign the appeal failed to do so; among these was “of course” the Synaspismos party.

Developments in recent years increased the objective significance of international coordination and solidarity. Let us recall that in July of 2003, in conjunction with parliamentarians from the CP of Russian Federation, AKEL, and the Left Party of Sweden, we contributed to the rejection of the anti-communist resolution before the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe. It was the same one that re-appeared recently as a decision by the European Popular Party. The KKE did everything it could to fight the persecutions of communists in the former socialist countries, and to support the communist and workers parties.

The KKE is in favour of close coordination between the communist forces of Europe. At the same time, it has supported broader initiatives on specific issues. Thus, last December it hosted a very important European meeting on the European Constitution. It has taken part in many bilateral and multilateral initiatives on a Europe-wide level, and has provided particularly active support to initiatives by parties and movements taken during EU Summits. During the Greek presidency of the EU, the KKE supported the movement “Action Thessaloniki 2003” and its international initiatives.

The recent meeting of the GUE/NGL and associated parties that was organized on the initiative of the Portuguese Communist Party on 7 February helped bring to the fore critical issues concerning common action by communist and left parties in Europe. It was held at a period of intense discussion and its object was to exchange views in preparation for the European elections. GUE/NGL parties from the Nordic countries did not participate at all, even though they had been invited.

The GUE/NGL group is known to have been formed in order to address issues of participation in the European Parliament. In fact, recognizing the differences between its parties, it functions on a confederated basis, where each party has full freedom of expression and action.

Two lines – Two ways of thinking

At the recent meeting in Lisbon on 7 February on the theme of the forthcoming elections for the European Parliament, two diametrically opposite viewpoints were put forward on issues of cooperation on a European level.

The reasoning, shared among others by the KKE, which is in favour of active cooperation based on actions on critical matters of concern to the working people, and are the focal point of their struggles, recognizes the different – even opposing – viewpoints on a broad spectrum of issues that exist today between communist and workers parties in Europe, but also between other progressive left forces. Such an approach however presupposes mutual respect among parties and each one’s equality and sovereignty; it also assumes that the content of such an approach be determined by the popular struggles.

On the other hand, there is the reasoning that demands acceptance of an overall political agreement which basically accepts the patently neoliberal European Union and the “European Left Party” as prerequisites for any action. The Synaspismos and various other forces that are promoting this “Euro-Party” rely on this kind of reasoning. These forces – and this is not at all by chance – want to keep open the prospect of collaboration in center-left co-management governments. Developments to date show that it is not only in Greece, but everywhere that the closer one is to center-left scenaria, the more deeply one is identified with the “European Left Party”.

At that meeting in Lisbon, the Synaspismos said nothing about the European army, peasants and the CAP, the Lisbon strategy, NATO, the European Constitution, the Schengen, the occupation of Iraq, or Palestine. The only points on which it insisted were two basic complimentary issues:

 That in any text or press release from the meeting there should be a clear positive reference to the so-called “European Left Party” and to the “New European Left”.

 That in any potential text by parties of GUE/NGL in front of the elections, there should be explicitly stated that “The European Union is today a reality” (!). In fact, the Synaspismos representative stated categorically that if such reference were not made, they would not support any text or initiative.

“European Left Party”: Division in the name of “unity”

From the outset, we should point out that there are neither common goals nor similar motives among all the parties that signed the so-called “Berlin Appeal” on January 10,2004, which was regarded as having given the initial kick-start to the “European Left Party” venture. To be precise, one should note that the signatories do not even agree on why or how this “party” should be formed, nor what the purpose of its existence is, which is proof of the profound disputes that are known to have taken place over its political programme and constitution.

It is however worth commenting on the so-called “hard core” of the process, which includes the Synaspismos. They are promoting a well-thought-out operation of division on all levels, while at the same time exerting pressures and blackmails towards parties that deserve solidarity or face financial problems.

But let us look briefly at the results of this process to date:
  •  It has broadened divisions and created new breaches inside and outside the parties of Europe, by violating the parties’ independence and equality, by not recognizing different approaches, and by introducing the logic of exclusions and the EU idea of “reinforced cooperation” in the parties’ relations.
  •  Full trisection of GUE/NGL into the “European party”, the Nordic Parties that are being pushed to shape their own pole, and the rest.
  •  Division even of parties that are taking part in the process. An illustrative example is the references in “Liberazione” about the discussions at the meeting of the National Direction of the Party of the Communist Refoundation on 28 January 2004. Then, the whole project of the “European Left Party” was discussed for the first time and adopted by the party’s National Direction with a meagre majority of just 3 votes.
And all this to…. conform to a Regulation of the EU Commission!

A “Party” with commission  specifications, in the service of the EU

1. The establishment of “European Parties” is not a concept that came from peoples or movements; it is an EU idea which is implemented according to the relevant Regulation of the Commission. It is worth looking once again at some of the final provisions of the regulation.

[The official English text of the Regulation (EC) No 2004/2003 on the regulations governing political parties at European level and the rules regarding their funding can be retrieved at!celexplus!prod!CELEXnumdoc&lg=en&numdoc=32003R2004
or (in PDF format) at ]

2. This Regulation refers unequivocally to the reason for the existence of these parties, which is not of course to promote cooperation between communist and progressive left forces. On the contrary, we read in the regulations that “political parties at European level are important as a factor for integration within the Union and that they contribute to forming a European awareness”. And it is of course natural that a party that aims at “integration within the Union” will demand, as the SYN did, the recognition that the “EU today is a reality”.

3. The “European Left Party” not only is established on condition that it respects the principles on which the EU rests, based on the treaties, but that it must prove this in practice!!! Read Article 3, para c): “it must observe, in particular in its programme and in its activities, the principles on which the European Union is founded..”

Regarding what this means, it is worth wondering what position such a party should adopt in relation to, e.g. Cuba if it must by definition accept the EU’s interpretation of “democracy”.

4. The “European Left Party” will be accountable to the European Parliament for any change in its programme or constitution. Thus it will be completely bound (article 4, para 3).

5. It will be subject to constant monitoring and verification (article 5), as well as monitoring in terms of compliance with respect for the principles of the EU in its programme and its actions (article 5.2).

This is a parody of a party even in bourgeois democratic terms. The only thing that will remain finally is the loyalty and commitment to the imperialist centre of the EU, that has even to be proved in practice!

The only argument that is put forward as to why a political organisation with the above specifications should be formed is the issue of its meagre financing. So, all this has been done for a handful of euros… And then they say “People above profits”…. It is to be noted that the Nordic Parties have recently already formed their “Nordic Left Alliance” (also reacting to this hush operation) outside the frame of the abovementioned Regulation, and thus without any concessions to EU bodies.

An organisation like the “European Left Party” will be used as an instrument to disarm parties and movements in their confrontation with the policy of the “EU of capital and war”. It will be used, as was already attempted in Lisbon, to block any independent initiative on a European level.

The Berlin text, which was so “visionary” about “another Europe”, contains not the slightest reference to why the “other Europe”, which is so feasible, is not a reality today. Words like Maastricht, Amsterdam, Nice, EMU, the European army and imperialism have been relegated to the “fires of hell”.

No mention is made even of the reactionary draft treaty of the “EU Constitution” which movements in Europe are already fighting against, while the enlargement of the EU is proclaimed “an opportunity and challenge for the forces of the left to regain the initiative”!! Imagine that there were parties in this group who had characterized the EU enlargement as “annexation” of the new countries.

Two members from each party will be elected by the entire “congress” to the “executive bureau” as foreseen in the draft statutes of the “EU left party”. That is, in practice, the member-parties will dissolve themselves and at the same time “currents” at the European level will be formed. Do left forces in Europe deserve this perspective of dissolution and liquidation?

Prospects for Europe-wide coordination today

The search for popular alternatives today has a more advanced starting position. Such alternatives, in order to be convincing, must be in total demarcation from social democracy and the centre-left. To be effective, they must respond to the intensity of the attack and correspond to the sharpening of popular struggles. To be realistic, they must keep open the front against the EU, NATO, monopoly domination and imperialism.

Such a prospect in Europe requires a broad alliance of forces that dispute the EU of Maastricht, the precepts of the Lisbon Strategy, militarization and imperialist wars. This is why it is necessary today to confront plans for the creation of an “EU party”, to ensure the independence of communist and progressive left parties from the EU, and to promote coordination and common action on the basis of equity and mutual respect.

The President of the Synaspismos was right when he put forward as a criterion for the leftists’ vote to the general election of 7th March the stance toward the European Left Party. This is another reason for a mass vote for the KKE. Because in front of us lie more, and tougher struggles. The question is where will this vote be invested? For or against the coming popular struggles? In this question the ballot of KKE provides the only positive response.

[* The article was published at Rizospastis on 15 February 2004]


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