Fw: No to Nice (Reformatted)

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Aug 21 13:10:01 MDT 2002


Having already voted against the Nice Treaty, we are now being forced to 
vote on it again. Main-stream politicians, big business, union leaders and 
the entire establishment are pulling out all the stops to reverse last 
year' s rejection of the Treaty. The same government that is breaking 
election promises left, right and centre-making cutbacks in health and 
education, refusing to pay public sector workers what they are owed-is 
telling us that the sky will fall in if we vote No.

They are so determined to force the Treaty down our throats because it 
suits the interests of their class. Nice is the latest step in 
strengthening the economic, military and political power of European big 
business-a process that attacks the interests of workers in Europe and 
across the world.

We should reject Nice again this year. No to a two-tier, undemocratic 
Europe We are being told that the Nice Treaty is necessary to allow 
countries in eastern Europe to join the EU. This is not true: more 
countries can join under the present arrangements. If these countries want 
to join the European Union, they should be let in tomorrow-as equals. The 
problem is that the big guns of Europe don't want these countries to join 
as equals, but as second-class members. For the first time the principle of 
free movement of citizens will be set aside, and most EU states will 
maintain restrictions on people from eastern Europe when their countries 
join. The Common Agricultural Policy will not apply in eastern Europe for a 
long period, and even then only at a severely reduced level.

New member states will not be given an equal say in decision making. The 
rich countries of western Europe want an expanded market for their 
companies to exploit. Eastern Europe is being forced to liberalise its 
services, privatise its economies and open them up to unrestricted 
multinational investment. Having escaped from the bureaucratic tyranny of 
the old Stalinist system, workers in these countries now face economic ruin 
with little social protection from the ravages of the market. Already the 
EU suffers, not from a 'democratic deficit', but from democratic 
bankruptcy. The unelected European Commission has massive power, while the 
European Parliament has hardly any. The Nice Treaty would concentrate power 
in even fewer hands. The big states would be able to gang up and vote down 
the objections of smaller states, whose right of veto would be removed in 
even more areas. Small states would have to wait a turn to get a seat at 
the Commission table, while big states would have a Commissioner permanently.

'Enhanced co-operation', as the Treaty calls it, would allow groups of 
states to go ahead and do their own thing anyway if they failed to get 
support for their proposals. No to a corporate Europe The European Union is 
based on Thatcherite economic principles. Governments are banned from 
subsidising industries and services which "could lead to a distortion of 
competition". Public spending has to be kept below a very tight level, 
otherwise states can be fined and forced to change policy. Public services 
have to be opened up to private competition and run as commercial concerns. 
Any restrictions on movements of capital are prohibited. The ground rules 
of the EU put the worship of the free market first and foremost, ruling out 
any alternative way of running the economy to serve people's needs. The 
erosion of the welfare state in the EU has left a fifth of its people below 
the poverty line. This corporate Europe intends to spread its tentacles 

While using its subsidies to promote European big business in world 
markets, it pressurises 'third world' states to dismantle their own 
economic supports. Nice would give the European Commission the right to 
negotiate trade agreements without reference to individual states. These 
agreements would remove all barriers to multinational capital in the world 
economy. The proposed General Agreement on Trade and Services aims to 
constrain all levels of government in their delivery of services, and to 
facilitate access to government contracts by transnational corporations in 
a multitude of areas including health and education. While European 
capitalism rides roughshod over the rights and living standards of people 
in the poorest countries, it also closes its doors on those who come to 
Europe in search of a better life. The EU makes token commitments to human 
rights, but European police forces gang up to seal the borders of Fortress 
Europe against people seeking refuge from economic and political injustice. 
A racist crackdown on immi-grants across the EU forcibly restricts the 
movements of human beings, while movements of capital remain sacrosanct.

No to EU militarism

The European Union aims to form a power bloc of its own on the world 
economic and political stage, and is equipping itself with the military 
capability to back that up. Its Rapid Reaction Force will be able to 
intervene up to 2500 miles outside Europe to protect EU interests-like most 
modern warfare, under the cover of 'peace-keeping'. EU states are pledged 
to arms co-operation, and the EU arms industry currently makes an annual 
profit of 13 billion pounds. Ireland is not taking part in the EU common 
defence-but it doesn't have to, because the Irish ruling class can realise 
their military ambitions without it. They have already committed troops to 
the Rapid Reaction Force, and reorganised the army to fit in with NATO 
requirements. They have joined NATO's Partnership for Peace (without the 
referendum promised by Fianna Fáil) and have made Shannon airport available 
for any US government that wants to bomb civilians. Even if Ireland doesn't 
physically take part in EU warfare, it has to support it. The EU treaty 
compels states to bring their policies into line with EU military actions, 
supporting them "actively and unreservedly" without impeding them in any 
way. The option of staying neutral in a war fought by EU states, and 
opposing the barbarity of warfare, is not allowed. Yes to an alternative 
Europe The alternative is not to separate ourselves from Europe and turn 
the clock back to the dismal days of de Valera's Ireland. Having Irish 
politicians and capitalists rule our lives is no better than having 
European politicians and capitalists rule our lives. Economically, 
militarily and politic-ally, the Irish ruling class are at one with their 
European counterparts. Running Ireland in the interests of its workers 
rather than big business means rejecting the corporate, exploitative, 
militaristic, undemocratic European Union. But it also means co-operating 
and fighting shoulder to shoulder with workers in neighbouring countries, 
building an alternative Europe.

Such a Europe would embrace the whole continent, ensuring the rights of all 
its peoples and regions. It would cherish our environment instead of 
sacrificing it to profiteers. It would oppose war, and wipe out the arms 
trade rather than innocent human beings. It would pay its global debts, 
repairing the damage done by European imperialism to the 'third world' over 
the decades, and welcoming all those seeking refuge from injustice. This is 
the kind of Europe envisaged in the protests that now oppose every summit 
of the EU's rulers. It would mean the European working class taking Europe 
into their own hands. Rejecting the Nice Treaty again is the first step 
towards building it. The Independent Socialist Forum Against Nice has been 
set up by independent socialists to campaign for a No vote in this year's 
referendum. We intend to put forward a socialist case against Nice and take 
part in the broad movement against the treaty. The Forum is open to all 
non-aligned socialists: if you would like to get involved, get in touch 
with us.


c/o 19 Fairways Grove, Finglas East, Dublin 11

Louis Proyect

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