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by Francis Wurtz, MEP (1)

Strasbourg 2007: Three Dreams That Could Become Reality

Translated Sunday 19 November 2006, by Steve McGiffen

Had the French, followed by the Dutch, not thrown such a big spanner into the works, the European Constitutional Treaty would have entered into force on 1st November. This was not the case, however, and this fact most decidedly did not suit those in high places. The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, who will be president of the Union during the first half of 2007, has repeatedly asserted her intention to “save the constitutional project”, though she does not know how.

It’s a fact that market liberalism seems increasingly to fly on leaden wings: at the heart of the “blues” which is spreading across Europe like a trail of gunpowder, it is clear that therein lies a social crisis. This is also becoming an enormous political problem, with the rise of the populism of the extreme right wherever the left shows itself incapable of clearly differentiating itself from the right on the question of market liberalism, and where, as a result of this, its promises of social reform are scarcely credible. This extremely serious threat should cause the men and women of the French left to reflect as we approach the date of the next elections. If the left is not completely clear on the question of market liberalism – and therefore on the question of Europe – it will receive a shock and we will pay dearly. We must react! This is the meaning of the proposals that the Communist Party has submitted to its partners in the United National Collective (for a platform against neo- and market liberalism), which the Collective has made its own, integrating them into its programme. In 2007, a left government including the major orientations of this programme into its plans will need to take three far-reaching initiatives to move the European project in a different direction.

In the first place, it will have to draw up, in cooperation with trade unions, NGOs and elected representatives, an inventory of all those European texts that lay the foundations for a neoliberal, market liberal Europe.

In the second place, it will have to address a solemn appeal to the other peoples of Europe, asking them to join with us in a common front for the liberation of the European project from these obstacles to change.

In the third place, not only must it immediately withdraw France’s signature from the plan for a constitutional treaty, in order to bury this plan once and for all, it must also grasp the opportunity of the French EU Presidency (in the second half of 2008) to bring into the debate arising in the European public, as well as within all of the institutions implicated in the development of plans for a future European constitution, demands for substantial changes.

The first of these changes must be to give Europe a major social ambition: progressively to guarantee to everyone, throughout his or her life, access to employment, or to training enabling one to get a better job while maintaining income and rights. This would be a revolution, but it is possible! On condition, for example, that leverage as decisive as that of the European Central Bank (ECB) is put at the service of such a priority: the ECB can, should a new treaty charge it with this mission, decide to offer cheap loans that would encourage the kind of investment which genuinely creates employment and to offer only dissuasively dear loans to financial operations tending to reduce employment. It is still necessary to attack the powerful! Another priority concerns the question of public expenditure and wage costs: today, the obsession is to reduce these in the name of "competitiveness". We can see the results: profits grow explosively, while society goes down the drain. We must reverse this tendency! You don’t construct a modern economy on foundations of precariousness and poverty! Another indispensable transformation is that the Union should recognise that public services must not be subordinated to the rules of competition but should instead respond exclusively to the exigencies of social effectiveness. Etc. Let’s — and without delay — open a major debate! We shouldn’t be happy just to patch up a boat that is taking in water. I will of course respond to this vital challenge.

(1) President of the Group of the United European Left-Nordic Green Left (GUE-NGL)

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