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(en) Workers Solidarity #79 - Kevin Doyle looks forward to the spectacle of Ireland's European presidency - Bertie's European Act

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Sat, 31 Jan 2004 14:02:11 +0100 (CET)


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Over the next six months you will be hearing a lot about the
European Union (EU). Part of the reason for this is that Ireland is
taking over 'The Presidency' of the EU, but the other part is that in
June elections will be held for the European 'parliament' in Brussels.
This election of MEPs will be heralded as 'your opportunity' to have
a say in the way the EU is run. TV and radio time will be expended
on 'convincing' you that you should get out to vote and that voting
for your MEP is a valuable activity. Nothing could be further from
the truth. Over the last number of elections, voter participation has
declined and it's not too difficult to figure out why.

To better understand the functioning of the EU you need to go back
a couple of decades to when the EU was more aptly named the
European Economic Community (EEC). This name describes more
accurately what the EU is all about - economics. It also gives us a
clue to who and what is behind the drive to 'enlarge' and 'create a
single market' in the European geographical era. A sin-gle large
market rather than a multitude of small independent markets (based
in all the different countries of Europe) has the advantage of
allowing European manufactures to mass produce and cut costs.
This is a situation that has been forced upon Europe's large
manufacturers due to increasing competition and the drive of
capitalism to cuts costs at every opportunity. The creation of a
'single market' allows European capitalists to compete more
effectively with their principle rival - the USA.

The National Interest?

The arrival of the 'Irish Presidency' is often touted as an of example
the EU's participatory style. But it also underlines one of the
fundamental fault-lines of the Europewide alliance. The EU was set
up as an alliance 'between independent states' - Germany, France,
Ireland, Spain etc.. A lot of what it does it formulated in terms of
our 'national' interests. For example in the area of fishing where
Ireland's traditionally weak presence has been under threat from
larger fishing interests based in France, Spain and Portugal. But
this concentration on 'national' interests hides the real division of
classes in all issues related to economics and policy in the EU. To
go on with the example of the fishing industry: although there is a
lot of talk about 'who gets what share of the Irish Box', and whether
or not 'Spain is robbing Ireland's fish quota' there is no talk about
the exploitation and harsh conditions within the fishing industry.
Very little attention gets paid to the issue of the Irish, Spanish and
French fish barons and the money they make from their workers.

The situation in the fish industry is repeated in all areas of the
European Union. We are encouraged to see Irish employers as our
'allies' against the larger 'sharks' in the EU market. In other
European countries the same applies.

Privatisation

The European Central Bank is one of the most powerful institution
in the European Union. It directs policy and strategy and it does so
with the interests of European big business in mind. The make up of
the ECB is by appointment only - economists, government advisors,
and appointees from the various national central banks. It is
overseeing a long term plan to introduce 'neo-liberal' values into the
single market. These values involve maximising 'competition' and
'privatisation' in the economy, with a view to making the EU a 'more
competitive economy'. In practice what this means is an assault of
working conditions and trade union http://struggle.ws/wsm/unions.html
rights. It has also led to a massive crackdown on migrant workers.
Thousands have already died because of tough border controls and
anti-immigrant laws. http://struggle.ws/wsm/refugee.html

The EU may be all about 'bringing Europe together' but we must
look at in what way and in whose interests. Right now the EU is a
Europe for big business - Bertie and Co. will lap that up in the next
few months.
_______________________________________

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/wsm/paper.html
We also provide PDF files of all our publications
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Print out the PDF file of this issue
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