John O'Neill johnfergaloneill at
Wed Aug 21 13:31:52 MDT 2002

Sorry about the first attempt


Vote No to the Treaty of Nice
 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 strengthen-ing 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 re-strictions 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 globally. 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 Agree-ment 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.
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 comm-itted troops to the Rapid Reaction Force, and
re-organised the army to fit in with NATO require-ments. 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 "active-ly 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 poli-ticians
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 cor-porate, exploitative, militaristic, undemocratic
Euro-pean Union. But it also means co-operating and fighting shoulder to
shoulder with workers in neighbouring countries, building an alternative
Such a Europe would embrace the whole continent, ensuring the rights of all
its peoples and regions. It would cherish our environment instead of
sacri-ficing 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

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