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Democrat May-June 2-12 (Number 129)

Social Europe is a Con

Pamphlet review by Dave Hawkins

“‘Social partnership’ is not just about restricting wages, but of stifling democratic involvement in the life of trade unions in the social and political life of the country.”

“Social Europe -What's that?` With this simple candid question Blair exposed decades of europhile mendacity.”

“Flexicurity hides behind the language of equality to propose measures to force exploitation and insecurity on to every worker in Europe.’’

“Any evidence of ‘Social Europe’ is being rapidly replaced by a distinctly ‘anti-Social Europe’ characterised less by social partnership than by social dumping.”

“The alternative is for trade unionists to develop their own democratic agenda based on the interests of their members and their communities.”

The `single-market` blueprint for the marketisation of Europe contained in the Single European Act` (SEA) was finally driven into law in 1987 in so small part a consequence of the fanatical determination of purported implaccable  enemies Margaret Thatcher and former Commission President Jacques Delors.

The act capped a decade of Thatcher Government shock therapy in the marketisation of Britain - the model for the European Single Market.
A year earlier Delors, a former right wing chrisitian socialist and renowned political operator, had launched his `social europe` concept claiming to `balance` the intensified competition and unemployment which the act would set in train .

As resistance mounted Delors responded with an extended tour of the EU’s Trades Union centres on a mission to sell the SEA/`social europe`package, ruthlessly launched with an orchestrated coup at the 1987 British TUC Congress to reverse its long held policy of EU opposition.

Brazenly initiated around an effectively ghost written travesty of its Annual Report, courtesy of the EU’s in-house funded ETUC, it promised `a platform of social rights and labour market improvements` setting the revision agenda. A messianic endorsment by `Frere` Jaques ‘as the only possible response to an irreversable process’ complete with a staged standing ovation drove the message home, reaffirmed parrot fashion across the Bournemouth Bars by those in the know that social-europe `` was now the only game in town’’. Demoralised by a decade of legal and para-military attacks, unemployment, privatisations and the recent Labour election defeat delegates carried the report along with two supporting motions `nem con`.

Henceforth unconditional acceptance and promotion of EU membership would be the touchstone of TUC policy and practice.

The story of what followed is contained in this fighting collection of articles and essays.

It exposes the both the commonality across the EU Member States of the Con-Dem attack on pensions, wages, conditions and employment rights and the jargon used to promote it.

It tells of Celtic Tigers - gone the way of the sabre tooth variety;  of privatisation directives and EU Court anti-union rulings; of unemployment, casualisation and outsourcing; of social dumping' Free Trade Agreements; of austerity, bank-bailouts and the bankrupting of entire nations. And through it all of a trades union EUtocracy in denial, blind to the unfolding disaster, endlessly reassuring itself and the credulous that ``EU membership brings social rights, economic growth and sustainable development - together making Europe a unique model of society.``

Social Europe is a Con? - it certainly is which makes essential reading for all trades unionists and their representatives.
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The introduction is by RMT general secretary Bob Crow. Contributions are by Brian Denny, Alex Gordon, Linda Kaucher and John Boyd (Editor). Included is a TimeLine from 1958 to 2012 and a list of useful abbreviations.

ISBN 978-1-904260-10-3: 40pp illus: £2 + 50p postage. Five or more copies are available at £1.60 each post free. Please make cheques payable to Democrat Press.

The pamphlet can be purchased from:

Democrat Press, PO Box 46295 London W5 2UG