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European Meeting, March 2008, Contribution of CP of Greece

Meeting of Communist and Workers' Parties from the EU Countries
Athens, March 14-15

"The EU Treaty, developments in the EU and peoples' struggle"

Dear comrades

We welcome you to our country. Our meeting is being held under the cloud of adverse developments for the peoples, among which the following stand out: the continuing crime being committed in Palestine, the situation created in Latin America by Colombia’s adventurism, and the general destabilisation caused by the independence of Kosovo as instigated by the imperialists. In all these developments the EU has set a negative seal that confirms its imperialist character and role. The claims that EU could become a pro-peace counterweight to the US strategy have, once more, been refuted.

At the same time, important labour and youth struggles are taking place all over Europe, including Greece, with demands and goals that clash, either generally or particularly, with the policies promoted by the EU. The trend towards more acute social and political clashes grows stronger. In addition to the important struggles under way in Greece, we would like to remind indicatively of: the recent major struggles in the education field in Portugal, Bulgaria and Denmark; the struggles of civil servants and transport employees in France and Germany; the strike mobilisations of workers at Nokia in Germany. In quite a few countries, public opinion polls register the difficulty of selling the Lisbon Treaty to the peoples. For the first time in recent years where resistance is being expressed to EU accession in a country (Turkey) on anti-imperialist grounds.

Conflicts within the EU are becoming increasingly complex, the difficulties it encounters greater. Discussions about EU prospects are becoming more intense among ruling circles, but also among communist and workers’ parties and progressive radical forces.

After the elections for the European Parilament in 2004, the regional and multilateral initiatives by communist and workers’ parties have multiplied. Cooperation on some issues takes on more permanent features eg: on social and labour issues; against privatisations of public services and sectors of strategic importance; for the right to free education; for democratic rights; against anti-communism, militarism, NATO and foreign bases. Meetings of Communist Youth organizations have become an institution in Europe. Internationalist solidarity with labour and popular struggles and with communists and other fighters who are facing persecution has become stronger.

Our parties have proved that they are capable of organising mass Europe-wide initiatives. We recall the mass demonstrations against the NATO summit meeting in Istanbul in 2004; the Europe-wide coordinated campaign against the anti-Communist resolution in the Council of Europe; the campaigns of solidarity with Sean Garland, the Communist Youth of the Czech Republic, the Hungarian Communists, the anti-fascist fighters in the Baltic republics, and others.

We note the successive initiatives by the Portuguese CP on labour and social issues, by the KKE on educational ones, by the Communist Parties of Turkey, Bohemia & Moravia, and Spain on the issues of militarism, the bases and NATO; the permanent four-part collaboration between the New Communist Party of the Netherlands, the Workers’ Party of Belgium, the German Communist Party and the Communist Party of Luxembourg over labour issues, the regional cooperation between the Nordic Communist Parties, as well as the initiatives taken for the first time by the Communist Parties of Britain and Ukraine.

These steps have given a boost to the discussion, to joint actions, and facilitated an approach on many subjects that have been crystallised in the recent joint statements.

We would single out as being of special significance the joint communiqué issued on the initiative of the Portuguese Communist Party on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the founding of the EEC, in which a more comprehensive assessment was made of the EEC and the EU, and contrasted to the Europe we are fighting for.

Our opinion is that a basis is being formed that makes possible a more concrete discussion about the prospect of a more articulated cooperation between us, also in view of the elections for the European Parliament of 2009.

Developments in the EU underscore this need. Let us take for example the new treaty and the fight against it.

Renaming the “Constitutional” a “Reform Treaty” serves exclusively the goal of circumventing both the obligation to hold referendums and the NO previously expressed by the peoples, while provocatively disdaining their will. It also reveals the hypocrisy of EU proclamations of so-called respect for “democracy and the will of European citizens”.

The Reform Treaty, or Lisbon Treaty, contains only slight changes to the original European Constitution, and provides that:
  • The EU succeeds and replaces the European Community and now acquires a formal legal personality. Which means a single independent existence, expressed by the High Representative or President of the Council in its relations with third countries and international organisations in all sectors: foreign and security policy, “anti-terrorist” policy and agreements for police and judicial cooperation, without requiring approval by national parliaments. One expression of the new EU single personality is that member states that will also be members of the UN Security Council cannot express their opinions, but are obliged to call in the High Representative to present the common position of the EU.
  • The militarization of the EU is accentuated, by instituting its right to intervene politically and militarily with rapid deployment forces throughout the entire world either in the name of “combating terrorism”, or under the pretext of crisis prevention or resolution or “humanitarian” missions.
  • The machinery of permanent structured cooperation is introduced and legislated, by means of which a group of member states can set up a permanent military collaboration, that is, a permanent squad of rapid deployment forces prepared to intervene militarily in any country on Earth, whenever it is judged to serve imperialist plans and the interests of the countries that comprise the EU, even in face of opposition by the governments of some of its member states.
  • The EU adopts the US doctrine of “pre-emptive war”.
  • The “solidarity clause” secures the right of the EU to intervene militarily and politically in internal developments in its own member states, even without their requesting it, on the pretext of “combating terrorist threats and terrorism”.
  • It further restricts the sovereign rights of the member states, allocating jurisdictions to the EU in virtually all sectors in which states implement policy, even in sectors such as social security and protecting the working people, energy, space, tourism, culture and sport.
  • It secures the precedence of Community law over member states’ national legislation, using the European Court of Justice as a so-called “independent judicial body”, eliminating any possibility of the member states and their parliaments implementing sovereign policy. A clear example was seen in the recent rulings handed down by the European Court in the Viking Lines and Laval cases. The conclusion is that: labour struggles and the rights won by the working class through hard sacrifices are being declared illegal when they conflict with the freedoms of capital as instituted by the Treaty.
  • It abolishes, to the benefit of the powerful forces, the right of veto over all EU decisions and extends EU competence into the sectors of police and judicial cooperation in criminal cases, and even to the sectors of social protection and security. Thus it reinforces the position of the strong capitalist countries, which can create a hard core that will gradually impose its policy on all member states (as happened, to some degree, with the Schengen Treaty and the Prüm Convention).
  • It strengthens the repressive machinery of the EU, such as the European police and Eurojust, the organisation that guards the external borders (Frontex), and creates new ones, such as the European Public Prosecutor.
  • It restricts people’s individual rights and freedoms even more drastically, and institutes unbridled surveillance, even keeping files on people’s ideological and philosophical views, as well as on the political and trade union activity of the working people; it likewise exchanges personal data. Through the new anti-terrorist package, it turns its attention to combating “violent radicalisation”, aimed in particular at “radical ideologies”; it amends the European “anti-terrorist” law, by penalising incitement to commit “terrorist crimes”, and the “recruiting” and “training of terrorists”.

Our parties expressed their opinion in two joint statements issued in July 2007 and October 2007, which uncloaked the contents of the Treaty, underscored its relation to Maastricht, Amsterdam and Nice treaties of which is a follow-up, and declared an unequivocal NO to both its content and to the chosen anti-democratic method to ratify it behind the people’s backs.

The Reform Treaty is integrally linked to the Lisbon Strategy, which involves: dismantling the social security, pension and social rights that have been won by the working class; full deregulation of the services market, opening it to fierce capitalist competition; implementing the so-called “Bolkestein directive”; privatising and handing over to big capital service sectors such as Welfare, Health and Education that are crucial to meeting the people’s needs; monopoly penetration of new strategic sectors of the economy, such as energy, telecommunications and transport, and indeed handing over all public infrastructures, which have always constituted the property of the people, to free monopoly use. Handing over to the plutocracy, through Public Private Partnerships, even of projects that have to date been traditional state functions, such as building roads, schools, etc.

The anti-labour philosophy of the EU is concentrated in the bourgeois buzzword “flexicurity”, which makes forms of employment and the rights that accompany them “flexible”.

Recently the Council of Ministers of Labour adopted the “common principles for flexicurity”, which will be applied throughout Europe. The main points of these “common principles” are:
  • Freedom to carry out mass dismissals.
  • Extension of lifelong learning, semi-specialisation and semi-training for the workforce.
  • Cutbacks in social benefits, especially unemployment benefits.
  • A key point in promoting these reactionary restructurings is to develop the concept of “social partnership”.

The common principles and models of “flexicurity” constitute the heart of the Green Paper on the reform of labour legislation. The main points of this reactionary reform are:
  • The abolition of full-time, steady permanent jobs and the undermining of collective labour agreements.
  • The abolition of the labour legislation provisions that protect jobs (e.g. regarding dismissals).
  • The institution of “rented” workers, so that companies will have no responsibility or obligation to their employees to comply with the labour legislation.

At the same time, “flexible” forms of employment are combined with the abolition of fixed daily working hours.

The press release issued after the meeting hosted by the Portuguese CP at Guimaraes on 5 and 6 July 2007 expressed the parties’ opposition to the Green Paper on labour issues and to the directive regarding working hours. The EU agenda of “flexicurity”, the abolition of any obstacles to lay-offs, the undermining of collective contracts and the restriction of trade union rights, as well as the privatisation and deregulation of public services were all condemned and rejected. At the same time, the need was pointed out for vigilance in dealing with the attack on democratic rights and freedoms.

The EU spring council meeting that has just concluded gave notice that the attack on the rights of the working people will be stepped up and the directions of the Lisbon Strategy will be accelerated. Blows will be struck at public social security, health and welfare systems, employment legislation will be adjusted to comply with the principles of flexicurity, and research and educational programmes will be subjugated to the needs of capital.

These restructurings express a single imperialist strategy. The identification of liberal parties with social democratic parties provides strong and irrefutable evidence that this policy is not merely a political choice; it is an internal need of the capitalist system.

This is why we believe that forces which prettify the EU and its policies (e.g. the slogan promoting a different, “good” Treaty for the benefit of the peoples) are consciously deceiving the peoples. Life has proved that those who claimed the EU of the monopolies could become “social” and serve the interests of the peoples were wrong. Today a number of myths have been exploded, such as the one claiming that the EU will lead to a reduction of disparities and to a convergence between countries, that living standards and democratic rights will be upgraded, especially in the new member states. Also dead is the myth that the EU can act as a counterweight to the USA to the benefit of the peoples, as well as the claim that the EU constitutes either an objectively progressive trend or, worse still, a reality that we have to accept.

Intra-imperialist conflicts become more acute and complex in the EU both internally and in its relations with other imperialist forces. Conflicts are sharpening in the realm of fiscal and monetary policy, the energy market and taxation policy. Competition with forces outside the EU is increasing over control of energy sources and routes, over agreements with the WTO and other organisations, and over control of strategic sectors of the economy after “deregulation”.

The sharpening of conflicts makes more visible the possibility of a rupture in this imperialist organisation, of countries choosing a different path of development, of disengaging themselves and withdrawing from it. We do not agree with the view that the national field of struggle has become obsolete. On the contrary, even minor changes in a country’s correlation of forces can have a broader impact today. The stronger the anti-imperialist movement in every country, the weaker the political power of the EU becomes as a whole, thus creating better conditions for changes at the level of power. Our opinion is that another Europe of the peoples will come about as a result of radical changes in the individual member states.

Today the impasses of neo-liberal policies are obvious. There can be no solutions in favour of the peoples unless Maastricht and the “four freedoms” of capital are disputed. Social democracy and the centre-left have been tried. There is an urgent need for a real alternative in opposition to big capital and imperialism, that will leave the door open to a break with the European capitalist integration process and to the prospect of socialism.

We are course aware that among our parties there are various, even radically different views of the EU and the perspective. We remain open to comradely discussion of different approaches and opinions. Our view is that this discussion can be held together with and parallel to common action to fight off the anti-labour offensive and support popular struggles.

We believe that there are some issues on which the various initiatives and joint communiqués have created some more or less common ground on which we can focus our attention.
  • For a strong NO to the Reform Treaty with active support for movements in countries in which referendums will be held.
  • Against deployment of the US anti-missile shield in Europe. Against foreign bases, the European army, NATO and the “Partnership for Peace”. Against military spending, and the dispatch of troops on imperialist missions beyond our own frontiers.
  • Against the Bolkestein directive, flexicurity, minimal labour relations, and in favour of decent, steady full-time jobs with rights.
  • For universal free public systems of education and welfare, and against the privatisation of social security.
  • Against the privatisation of education, the invasion of capital into the schools, against Bologna. For free public education for all (in the signatures campaign that started at the first and second European meeting on education, some 700 signatures have been gathered at the address
  • Against privatisations in energy, transport, infrastructures and public services.
  • Against anti-communism and bans on Communist Parties, against the persecution and imprisonment of Communists and other fighters. For the defence of democratic and trade union rights. For equal rights for migrants.
  • For the defence of socialist Cuba and the abolition of the common position of the EU. For solidarity with the Palestinians and all struggling peoples.

We can also see the need to exchange views on the forms that collaboration can take on these issues, always on the basis of mutual respect and the independence of the parties involved.

In any event, we would like to clarify our view of GUE/NGL in the European Parliament. We are in favour of retaining it for participation in the European Parliament, and of preserving its confederal character steadfastly. We do not, however, believe that it can constitute a framework for political cooperation on EU matters. It has not infrequently issued unacceptable resolutions about Cuba, Korea and other countries. But issues like the Green Paper, the European Constitution and even openly anti-Communist resolutions are not unanimously rejected by this Group and by forces that describe themselves as left and progressive. We have many times met with obstacles and rejections of our efforts to have invitations issued to communist and workers’ parties that are not represented in the European Parliament, or even worse, when hostile forces are been chosen as partners and interlocutors.

So let us discuss our cooperation in movements, campaigns, common actions and the European parliamentary elections. We will talk about this in more detail in the second topic.

It is obvious, that it is not enough to resist and condemn the anti-popular choices of EU. This practice was totally indispensable in the nineties, when special weight was given to hinder the measures of EU and to gain time in order the European movement to be strengthen and as effective as possible.

However, despite the big protests the measures were finally passed and are now being implemented in all member states. The differences between the member states are related to the uneven development and the different time that the measures were passed in each country. They also come from internal particularities and specific features, as well as from the power of the movements.

Therefore, we should not aim every time at hindering the new measures, taking the ones that passed for granted.

Under these conditions we are forced to take position towards EU in general and plan the resistance and counterattack overall in Europe with a perspective on the future. It is not sufficient anymore to talk about the Europe of the working people. The point is to define the strategy that should be followed overall in Europe and by each nation separately.


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