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Democrat November-December 2004 (Number 84)

TUC backs EU Constitution
without mandate

The British TUC endorsed the EU constitution at the European TUC in October despite a firm decision at this years TUC Congress in Brighton not to take a position on the issue and to explore concerns over "sovereignty, democracy and public services". A resolution pouring praise on the constitution adopted by the ETUC Steering Committee on 13 July 2004 was endorsed by its Executive Committee on 13-14 October 2004 in Brussels. At first it was claimed that the TUC had abstained but after double-checking the votes, ETUC spokesperson Patricia Grillo admitted that the TUC had in fact voted in favour of the ETUC resolution.

ETUC Secretary General John Monks demanded that the Steering Committee vote to ensure there could be no doubts about the ETUC position regarding the new constitution.

In the resolution, the ETUC explains that "compared to the Nice Treaty and considered from a more specific social perspective, the new European Constitution is a step forward".

Only the French trade union Force Ouvriere (FO) voted over valid fears that neoliberal policies had been set in stone in the constitution, a position dismissed by Monks.

A meeting of the foreign office/TUC advisory group in October also agreed that the EU Constitution was an issue of major importance to both sides. "It was agreed that this might be an area for closer working, in advance of a referendum in Britain," it said.

It might be interesting to know what they mean by "closer working".

This is the statement which the Brighton 2004 Congress adopted

General Council Statement on Europe

Congress welcomes proposals for a referendum on the proposed constitutional treaty for the European Union. At long last, a genuine and constructive debate can take place in Britain on the issue.

However, it would be inappropriate to take a formal position for or against the constitutional treaty until unions and the General Council have had the opportunity to consider it in depth and assess its impact on key issues such as the rights of working people to decent work, the national democratic rights of member states, public services and equality.