The debate on the left about the merits of continued membership of the European Union is often clouded by considerable naivety about the scope to reform the EU from within and shift it in a more progressive direction. The chimera of a ‘Social Europe’, promoted in the 1980s by Jacques Delors, then President of the EU Commission, did much to foster this confusion. But we should be under no illusions about the possibility of changing the EU into an organisation defined by social justice and fairness. The EU is using the financial crisis to intervene ever more decisively in the economies of member states, in favour of monopoly capital and the wealthy and to the detriment of ordinary people.
The recent speech by European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso, in which he outlined his vision for a federal Europe, with full fiscal and political union to be delivered via a new EU Treaty, is simply the latest step in the forced march towards a near-total loss of national sovereignty over internal economic affairs.
I wonder if part of the problem when discussing these issues in progressive circles rests with the confusion in some people’s minds between a legitimate sense of internationalism and interest in European culture on the one hand and a failure to recognise the capitalist underpinning of the EU on the other; allied with a degree of nervousness about being associated with the reactionary, knee-jerk xenophobia and chauvinism of UKIP and others on the right.
But there are sound, progressive reasons for wanting to leave the EU and reshape our economy on the lines of the People’s Charter. Samir Amin has just written a thoughtful article in Monthy Review, which is a useful contribution to the debate, available at:
And, of course, if you haven’t read it already, do get hold of a copy (now updated) of John Foster’s pamphlet, ‘The European Union: for the Monopolies, against the People’, available from Party HQ, for an excellent discussion of the history of the EU and the implications of continued membership.