Several years ago, as political attention in Europe was drawn towards the construction of the European single market and the European single currency, the European left including the organised labour movement found itself in a familiar position – a contradiction. It would appear that, at the beginning of the 20th century, the various nation-based founders of the movement, as we recognise it today, were much more conscious of the need to organise internationally than we were. Here we now had a situation where economic and fiscal control had been gradually wrested away from national governments, which had for previous generations used fiscal means to satisfy the needs of the wealth of their nations as they perceived and to control and contain social problems and unrest as they arose. Incredibly the great industries such as finance, manufacturing and mineral exploitation had now been allowed to internationalise and use this freedom to avoid contributing proportionately to the common good. Their freedom was such that they were allowed to write their own rules in this new capitalist demimonde but as we were all to discover like Icarus such freedom has risks.
Back in 1990 it had not passed the notice of the “Group Syndicalist” in the European Parliament that state control was now conditional on appeasing international capital. In fact capitalism had even the temerity to assume, when countries decided to float currencies, control over these same countries currency by means of their so called Credit Rating Agencies. The situation should then have been tackled and some lonely voices were calling for just that. Here we had a world where the control of finance, manufacturing and raw materials was internationalised in private hands, as was agricultural trade, (a disaster gradually surfacing now in our consciousness). Military actions are now pursued through international alliances such as NATO giving national parliaments the same powers as a local CND meeting. Even the Mafia is internationalised. Yet in the days prior to air transport, emails, video conferencing and Skype, we had the giants of the left holding conferences throughout Europe and organising and proselytising in their home countries.
Now we have a financial crisis where the cause is international but the remedy is being passed down to emasculated national governments to resolve. The net outcome of this can only be a massive legitimisation crisis for governments at this level.
Just as previously there are voices on the left wishing to be heard – but will there be cooperation internationally on the left to meet this crisis? The German DBS union has posted this call: www.forumdesalternatives.org/EN/readarticle.php?article_id=9786
“European Trade Unions Urge Change in EU Policy: The Confederation of German Trade Unions (DGB) on Wednesday harshly criticized the negative consequences of aid packages for the European nations in crisis and policy of austerity amid the financial crisis. The measures adopted in the framework of the Euro-Plus Pact will aggravate the economic and social crises in Greece, Portugal, and Ireland. Those countries will face long recessions, increased unemployment, worse working conditions and living standards, and greater debt, despite the austerity policy, the confederation predicted. Due to the danger it poses for Europe, it is imperative to make a radical change in policy to support economic growth, job generation, and the building of a social Europe. The DGB and the Federation of European Trade Unions are asking for greater direct support for countries in crisis, and to extend the expiry date for loans.”
Now we have a financial crisis where the cause is international but the remedy is being passed down to emasculated national governments to resolve.
From the same source we have a call for support for the Greek workers to be found at “Massive popular uprising in Greece”: www.forumdesalternatives.org/EN/readarticle.php?article_id=9760
Meanwhile some in the European Parliament are using their position to further the cause as with the following quotes:
“The results of the trialogue (Council, Commission, Parliament) negotiations are extremely worrying,” said MEP Jürgen Klute, GUE/NGL coordinator on Parliament’s Economic Affairs Committee. “The proposals that are emerging will result in unprecedented budgetary austerity. At institutional level, the Parliament will be marginalised in particular regarding the ‘delegated acts’. In addition, the proposals on relaunching investment and taking them into account in the ‘scoreboard’ mechanism are extremely unsatisfactory. It should also be noted that at this point even Members of the European Parliament have no consolidated information on the content of the directives and regulations to be voted, and this is unacceptable in the context of such an important vote.”
“We cannot accept governance that destroys social policies and the development of the European Union, that imposes unfair measures on ordinary people and that, ultimately, heightens the recession “ said MEP Nikolaos Chountis. “What is happening in Greece, in other words, the impoverishment of people in the name of austerity and rescuing the European banking system and Member States will be on the agenda in other countries of the EU,”
But sadly some are protecting themselves from the crisis by other means. As we say “Watch this space”’: www.theparliament.com/latest-news/article/newsarticle/parliament-publishes-secret-report-on-mep-expense-abuse/