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Democrat July 2000 (Number 45)

Splits in the rotten heart of Europe

by Brian Denny

Doing the spits

THE attempt by Germany and France to reassert themselves as the "motor" of euro-federalism has only revealed more splits at the rotten heart of Europe. Following the privatisation frenzy launched at the Lisbon EU summit in May by Britain and Spain - which must have pleased the corporate mandarians in Brussels - the Franco-German axis has sought to regain the initiative.

To celebrate the beginning of the French EU presidency, Jacques Chirac backed Germany's euro federalist dreams as outlined in Berlin's foreign minister Joschka Fischer's infamous speech in May.

President Chirac dropped any reservations and called for the creation of a core EU group, a "European constitution", to be rubber-stamped in Nice in December, and for Germany to have a seat at the UN security council. "Together with Germany and France, they could form a pioneering group," he said.

This fast-track approach means that Paris and Berlin could present it's decisions as a fait accompli to the rest of the EU.

Splits Emerge

However, the French government immediately delivered an unusually blunt disavowal of Chirac's Berlin address. European Affairs Minister Pierre Moscovici said: "That is not a speech by the French authorities.

"We will not write a European constitution during our presidency. We will not achieve a federation of nation-states during our presidency. We will not institute new federative sovereignties," he said.This desperate backpeddling followed French foreign minister Hubert Vedrine's request to Berlin to cease open calls for euro federalism and accused Berlin of "fuelling the profound divisions between member states."

There has been a negative reaction in France to Fischer's famous call for a "single" European government, including French interior minister Jean-Pierre Chevenment accusing Germany of expansionist views similar to the Nazi's. Infuriated future presidential rival, prime minister Lionel Jospin, also called Chirac's vision "contradictory."

Divisions Within New Labour

These divisions also popped up in Britain after Tony Blair was summoned to Berlin to be told to crank up his support for the euro, which he dutifully did regardless of any political damage it might do. He said in Potsdam after dining with German leaders "we are in principle in favour" of joining the euro.

This pitted the cautious Chancellor Gordon Brown against the eurofanatic Peter Mandelson inside the cabinet, while public ratings against the abolition to the pound rose to over 70 %.


And, right on cue, the scare stories about the effects of not being in the euro intensified to new hysterical levels over the strong level of the pound. It took Labour MP Tony Benn to inject some sanity into the debate by pointing out that it was in the power of the government to adjust interest rates to bring down the strength of the pound.

However, it is clear the government does not want to do this exactly because under the Maastricht Treaty the Bank of England must be "independent" and beyond democratic control!

East not impressed

Eastern Europe has also not been impressed by Chirac's "core member" theory which would obviously leave them even further on the periphery than previously imagined.

EU membership will remove from countries like Hungary, the Czech republic, Poland and Slovakia the democratic tools to protect their agriculture and industries and enforce mass privatisation. Such a prospect will hit farmers, small business and the public sector - most of the population - very hard.

Former Czech Republic prime minister Vaclav Klaus, former Polish leader Lech Walesa and Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban have all warned of the dictatorial Big Brother nature of Brussels. "Europe is now fundamentally challenging the nation state, particularly it's soveriegnty," Mr Klaus told a meeting in Austria. Unfortunately, when the mask slips and the nature of the EU beast is exposed it may well resort to openly turning on the thumbscrews as it has already done in Yugoslavia.

It is no wonder that the priority for Brussels has been the consolidation of a European army, own Euro-police force and laws to crush internal dissent and protect the empire east and west.

Resistance growing

The protests at Seattle against the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has marked the increased resistance to globalisation, including plans to create a single corporate dictatorship across Europe. Eastern Europe is just one area where such resistance is growing. A WTO meeting in Prague on 24 September this autumn promises to see a repeat performance of the rainbow coalition of protest against this so-called New World Order.

The labour movement in Britain must be an integral part and take a lead in this fight for democracy and national rights to self determination against neoliberalism and dictatorship promoted by Brussels.