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(en) Workers Solidarity No. 68 Jan/Feb 2002 - The Euro: the root of all evil?

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>(http://struggle.ws/ws/2002.html)
Date Sat, 16 Feb 2002 15:36:26 -0500 (EST)

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

The arrival of the Euro in its 'real' form of notes
and coins is a key step along the path towards
European unification. In Ireland, at least, it was
virtually unopposed save for a few nostalgic
articles about missing the artistry of the old
notes and coins.

The Irish media presents a uniform picture of the
growth of the EU in which ministers argue about fish
quotas but there is otherwise little disagreement. The
vote against the http://struggle.ws/about/nice.html
e Nice treaty in Ireland however
demonstrates there are very large numbers of people
suspicious about the EU project. But you would be hard
pushed to find any explanation of what this suspicion

In so far as we get any explanation there is a vague
idea that Nice was voted down because of the
anti-freedom, anti women bigots in groups like Youth
Defence somehow managed to trick people into voting
no. This is an angle that suits the government but does
not stand up to any real examination. These forces
have always been anti-Europe yet until Nice European
referenda were easily carried. And in general Irish
society in the last decades has moved to greater
rather then less respect for the individual freedoms of
women, gays and all the other groups the bigots

European unification has always had mixed results in
Ireland. Certain elements, particularly those that gave
limited support to the struggles for individual rights,
were quite welcome. Others like the growing formal ties
to European militarisation were less welcome but
realistically Ireland's 'neutrality' has always been a bit
of a pro-British/American joke. And most of the
economic arguments were little more then arguments
between the gombeen and international sections of the
boss class that are meaningless to Irish workers. 

Irish Anarchists have for the most part insisted that we
are against aspects of the way European unification is
being, not the idea of unification. In many ways it
should be welcomed by workers as a move away from
the old nationalisms of the 20th century. And also of
course European unification was one of the key goals
of the workers' movements before the war of 1914
smashed such hopes in the trenches.

As with other aspects of globalisation there is the
globalisation that the bosses wish to accept and the
globalisation that the workers need to impose. For
example, the freedom of anyone anywhere on the
planet to travel where ever they like free of border

The EU is key to the bosses' process of capitalist 
globalisation. In a general sense European Unification
is providing the motor by which workers' rights are
being reduced to a point near the bottom of the
European average and through which massive
industrial and transport projects are being imposed on
reluctant populations who are also forced to pay for
them. Here it provides a handy excuse for the Irish
State when it comes to trying to impose regressive
taxes like the Bin tax. http://struggle.ws/wsm/bins.html

The decision making structure of the European Union
is not widely understood. In general all we see are the
summits where the leaders of the European states
come together to finalise documents that have been
negotiated over the previous years in the shadows.

Lurking in these shadows is a deeply undemocratic
process. Many proposals start off in a rather shadowy
body also based in Brussels called the 'European
Round Table of Industrialists' (ERT). This elite club,
formed in 1983 brings together 45 top European
corporations like ICI, BP, Shell, Renault, Bayer,
Unilever and Nestlé. Ireland is 'represented' by Michael
Smurfit of Jefferson Smurfit[1]. 

Perhaps this line up alone explains some of the pro-car
and oil industry decisions that the EU has made in
favouring motorway construction over freight trains for
the long distance transport of goods? The ERT has
also been pushing the World Trade Organisation
agenda with the circles of the European bureaucracy.

Many of the provisions of the Single European Act
(SEA), for instance, originated in the ERT document
"Europe 1990 - A program for action". The SEA with
its emphasis on a European free trade zone that would
led to further concentration of production in the most
developed regions and the centralisation of production.
The European Commissioner for the Environment
estimated that because it also favoured road (rather
then rail) transport it would lead to a 50% increase in
heavy road haulage by 2000, some 17 million more

One of the components of this transport policy, the
'TENS' will mean 13,000 km2 of new roads. This leads
to massive pollution and a waste of resources as
goods are transported over crazy distances. One
German study found that while the necessary
components to produce and package strawberry
yoghurt could all be sourced within a radius of 50 miles
they were in fact transported over 7,000 miles[3].

This sort of crazy policy which results in pollution only
makes sense when you understand it has been
imposed in the interests of the European corporations.
A 1999 WHO report on Health costs due to road
traffic-related air pollution revealed that car-related
pollution kills more people than car accidents in
Austria, France and Switzerland[4].

The act also favoured large-scale industrial farming,
which requires huge energy and chemical inputs (again
good for the likes of ICI and Shell). European research
money, paid for by the taxes of European workers, was
directed towards genetic engineering, biotechnology
and the chemical pharmaceutical industry rather then
towards minimising unemployment or environmental
degradation. Baron Daniel Janssen of the ERT
describes the EC decision making structures as
"extremely open to the business community, so that
when businessmen like me face an issue that needs
political input we have access to excellent
Commissioners such as Monti for competition, Lamy
for world trade, and Liikanen for electronic commerce
and industry"[5].

It's estimated that Brussels hosts some 500 industry
lobby groups employing some 10,000 professional
lobbyists. 1999 for instance saw a multi-million Euro
lobbying campaign by the biotech companies which
saw the introduction of the industry friendly 'Patents on
life' directive.

It makes no sense for us to oppose the EU on the
basis of some sort of return to national sovereignty.
Rather we must look for ways to create our
globalisation agenda out of the process. The protests
at the European Summits are proving one way of doing
this. At the December summit in Brussels between
60,000 and 100,000 took part in the Trade Union
organised demonstration alone. These protests can
also be one of the ways in which we build links across
Europe and create our alternative.

Andrew Flood

1 ERT membership is on their web page at
2 Restructuring and Resistance (available from the
WSM bookservice for 13 Euros), p47
3 ibid, p147
4 See
5 Restructuring and Resistance , p66

See also Against capitalist globalisation http://struggle.ws/wsm/global.html

This page is from the print version of the Irish
   Anarchist paper 'Workers Solidarity'  http://struggle.ws/worksol.html .
We also  provide PDF  http://struggle.ws/ws/pdf.html files of
all our publications for you to print out and distribute locally

      Print out the PDF file of this issue  http://struggle.ws/ws/pdf/ws68.html
See also:  Against capitalist globalisation  http://struggle.ws/wsm/global.html

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