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Belfast Lexit Meeting with KKE and WP, Belfast 14 June at 7pm June 12, 2016

Posted by guestposter in Communism, European Union, KKE, Workers' Party.
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EU Meeting

The Workers Party in Northern Ireland is calling for a class based response to the European Union debate and is in favour of a Leave Vote as part of a principled, socialist LEXIT strategy.

As part of the LEXIT debate the Party is holding a public meeting on

Tuesday 14th June at 7pm

in the Clayton Hotel.

Ormeau Avenue. Belfast

(opposite the BBC)

The guest speaker will be Elisseos Vagenas a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Greece, who will reflect on the lessons learnt in Greece from the Europe Union and the crisis in capitalism.

More details here

Even by its words shall we know it April 20, 2015

Posted by Tomboktu in Africa, European Union, Human Rights.
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Most of the attention has rightly been on the presence or absence of meaningful action, as against words, to prevent further drownings in the Mediterranean Sea. But the words of some of the institutions do reveal.

Thorbjørn Jagland, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, had this to say on twitter:

Deeply saddened by death of hundreds on Europe-bound refugee boat. Pay tribute to Italy’s coast guard for doing their best to save lives.

Anne Brasseur, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, issued a press statement that was given a headline that expressed the horror of what happened:

“Gates of Europe” bloodied again as 700 migrants feared dead in “awful” Mediterranean boat tragedy

At a global level, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said the following:

New Mediterranean boat tragedy may be biggest ever, urgent action is needed now

Whatever power they have to force Europe’s institutions to act (damn all, in truth), those leaders recognised the awfulness of what has happened.

The EU has stronger powers to act. The words its leaders have used reveal that we need to be alarmed.

Martin Schulz, the President of the European Parliament, gave the first sign that the human response was second to a careful policy position. The headline on his statement said:

Schulz for renewal of refugee and migration policies

At least the first sentence of his statement recognised the nature of what happened:

“The renewed tragedy off the Libyan coast, in which possibly up to 700 people have lost their lives, leaves me speechless

But the European Commission’s statement is shocking for the way it hedged the central, awful fact of what had happened. Here is its headline

European Commission Statement on developments in the Mediterranean

And even when it does get around to mentioning human lives, in the third sentence of the statement, it avoids the awfulness of what happened:

These are human lives at stake, and the European Union as a whole has a moral and humanitarian obligation to act.

By the time that statement was issued, 700 lives were no longer “at stake”: they had been lost.

The EU Court blocks human rights December 20, 2014

Posted by Tomboktu in European Union, Human Rights.

Two days ago, the EU’s Court of Justice delivered a ruling that blocks the EU from signing up to the European Convention on Human Rights.

Technically, the ruling concerns a draft agreement between the EU and the Council of Europe, rather than accession itself, but the commentary by European human rights lawyers in the last two days makes clear that the underlying problem is that the EU’s Court of Justice is not prepared to be subject to the human rights standards set by the European Court of Human Rights.

Two things occur to me.

(1) I haven’t seen anything about this in the Irish media. (They did report a ruling the same day on whether obesity can be a form of disability in certain circumstances, so it’s not that domestic issues took their eyes off the Luxembourg court on Thursday.)

(2) The EU’c court ruling is deeply undemocratic. Whatever your view of the merits of the Lisbon Treaty and the merits of the “vote again” referendum we held in Ireland, the fact is that it was adopted by democratic processes in each of the member states, and requires that the EU accede to the European Convention on Human Rights. It is not for the EU’s judges to create complicated arguments for overturning that decision.

LMD: “Cheap Euroloans at a high cost” April 27, 2014

Posted by Tomboktu in Austerity, Economy, European Politics, European Union, Social Policy, Taxation Policy.
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Seeing as there is a European election under way, from the April issue of Le Monde Diplomatique‘s English language edition:

European leaders considered the introduction of new contractual agreements between the European Commission and member states at a summit in Brussels last December, as demonstrators protested outside about a free trade agreement between the EU and the US (1). If implemented, the new contracts could be the most powerful tool ever granted to the EU’s institutions for dismantling member states’ social welfare provisions.

The contractual arrangements — the Convergence and Competitiveness Instrument (CCI) — are based on a simple principle: in return for financial incentives, European states would be asked to sign up to macroeconomic reforms. These would affect social provisions, the economy and taxation, independently of powers already devolved to EU institutions. Given the Commission’s current priorities, it is easy to imagine that the “financial advantages” might well be conditional on the withdrawal of employment protection and reductions in welfare expenditure or the provision of corporate tax breaks.

The proposal has provoked strong scepticism in some member states, including some of Germany’s traditional allies, and there is strong resistance within the Council too. Even a moderate social mobilisation might find allies within the EU to stop the plan being adopted (or to remove its most problematic aspects). So the EU election campaign offers the European left — who have too often acted too late, and been repeatedly defeated since 2007 — a rare opportunity to act.

Tsipras in London March 17, 2013

Posted by Oireachtas Retort in European Union.
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Interesting read

Tsipras began his speech by framing the European conflict as a battle between neoliberalism and democracy. “Europe is on edge, with two forces colliding. On one side stands the productive forces of democracy, the people fighting to create a society of justice, equality and freedom. And on the other side a neoliberal political project unfolds. Its aim is to control bodies and minds through the politics of fear, to discipline human life in its entirety, to intensify the exploitation of labour and to increase the profits of capital.” SYRIZA, he said, “declare that we are part of the experiment of democracy.


Debt, so often the centrepiece of discussions about contemporary Greek politics, played a more minor role in this speech. Its role in this crisis was, Tsipras said, as a weapon of “blackmail” in a “transformative tragedy”. “Their scheme is a subtle technology of power aiming to exclude alternative political programmes. So, I think that if the debt did not exist the elites would have to invent it.”

Forty Years Ago Today… May 10, 2012

Posted by irishelectionliterature in European Politics, European Union.

Forty Years ago today we voted on entry to the EEC. Any thoughts?

Many thanks to John O’Driscoll for the below photos taken…

.. last year of an ancient bridge in Cavan that yet has the words ”EEC NO” that were spraypainted on it in 1972. When I drive the little road it’s on and look at it I reflect on how prophetic and ignored were the warning signs like it

Compact Discussions March 1, 2012

Posted by Wu Ming in European Union, Ireland.

It may be no surprise that the Fiscal Compact is going to be put to a referendum in Ireland, but the manner in which this has come about certainly is.  Taken the Government statements issued yesterday at face value, it’s possible that a legal requirement exists because the Compact exists outside of the formal framework of the European Union, it’s not covered by previous amendments to the Constitution; a more cynical suggestion would be that if even a reasonable possibility existed that the Supreme Court might find that a referendum was required (and the enabling legislation was going to the Supreme Court in any case) then it’s better for the government to appear to have put it willingly to the people, and not to have been dragged kicking and screaming to the ballot box.

As to the campaign itself, I think it’s very difficult at this point to predict anything, other than it will be unlike any previous EU Treaty campaign, that it will be particularly dirty, and that Eamon Ryan’s support for the Compact is unlikely to be a ‘game-changer’.

This is not another Lisbon, Nice, Amsterdam or Maastricht referendum, for a number of reasons.  Firstly, Ireland has no veto power over this one.  The Treaty doesn’t require unanimity to come into force.  It’s reasonable to assume that it will, and it may well be in force by the time Ireland comes to vote (whenever that is).  A rejection by Ireland will not lead to any renegotiation, nor will it impede any progress towards implementation.  The argument sometimes used in previous referenda – that Ireland should bring down the Treaty because others did not have the opportunity to express their views – does not apply in this case.  This time, we’re voting for ourselves, and no one else.

It also differs from previous referenda in that the issues at stake are ultimately quite simple.  Of course, certain aspects arise which are technically difficult and open to debate – not least whether the Treaty can retrospectively impose conditions of the ESM which were not in place at the establishment of the mechanism.  But it broadly comes down to a relatively simple choice – access to ESM funding at some point in the future (if required) in return for signing up to draconian budgetary rules in perpetuity.  This isn’t a situation where one can reasonably argue that there’s not enough information available, or the issue is too complicated – the old ‘If you don’t know, Vote No’ approach.

I mentioned previously (excuse the self-promotion) why I think a ‘No’ vote is the only conceivably left position to take, and won’t repeat the same points now.  However, I would make a few observations.

Any ‘No’ campaign should focus on the substance of the issue, and not on extraneous points.  It does no credit to previous anti-EU Treaty campaigns (in the broadest sense) that many of the arguments put forward at the time have since proven to be untrue; this is, admittedly, far more the case in relation to far-right/Libertas arguments (abortion, gay marriage etc.) but it must be said that much of what was argued about the consequences for Irish defence policy during previous campaigns have, to put it mildly, not turned out as predicted.

This is not simply arguing that the ‘No’ side should tell the truth for moral reasons.  There are important campaigning considerations as well.  It is necessary to distinguish this campaign from previous ones, to avoid the argument that all opponents of the compact are simply kneejerk anti-EU crackpots (see Stephen Collins in yesterday’s Irish Times).  A more effective strategy would be to stick to the facts, and allow the ‘Yes’ campaign to expose itself as indulging in scaremongering/bullying tactics, as it undoubtedly will.

It’s also important to acknowledge that there are no easy fixes, and that there are substantial risks associated with a ‘No’ vote.  No one can say, with any certainty, what the consequences of such a vote might be.  It may well be that it could lead to a sovereign debt crisis if Ireland is unable to return to private lending markets, and is cut off from availing of ESM funding.  And while it could be argued that an ad hoc solution might be found among EU partners to ensure the survival of the euro, let’s not pretend that this is assured.

It should also be made clear what this Treaty is not about.  It is not about the current bailout programme, or current government policy (although obviously a ‘Yes’ vote would substantially impact on future governments).  Nor is it about any previous Treaty, is not Lisbon III, or any of the issues which arose in that context.  It changes nothing about the structures of the European Union.  And, of course, it should go without saying that it has nothing to do with septic tank, the household charge or the infamous Vatican Embassy.

However, there are two very strong arguments about why this Compact should be opposed.  The first is that it enshrines permanent austerity policies – policies which, by any standard, have failed time and time again – into Irish law.  It rules out, forever, any government policies except neoliberal ones, almost the equivalent of putting Fr. Brendan Smyth in charge of a child protection agency.  Secondly, the manner in which this compact was introduced completely undermines the institutions of the European Union, as well as the spirit of solidarity in which it was formed.  It is an explicit attempt by France and Germany (and, more importantly, by the global financial interests those governments represent) to bounce weaker Member States into a suicidal economic policy, of benefit only to multinational financial institutions, completely sidelining not only the European Commission, but the national governments within the Member States as well.  It is a template for unelected, unwanted, technocratic governments across the Union.  To paraphrase George Orwell, if you want a picture of the future, imagine Ayn Rand’s stiletto heel stamping into a human face – forever.

There is clearly much work to be done, and a difficult campaign to fight, if this Compact is to be defeated.  However (and I know I won’t be thanked for this) those on the ‘No’ side could do worse than looking again at President Higgins’ speech at the LSE last week for at least some powerful arguments against what is being proposed.

Joint Statement of the Communist and Workers’ Parties of the 5 Countries with Highest Levels of Unemployment in the EU February 28, 2012

Posted by Garibaldy in Communism, Communist Party of Ireland, European Politics, European Union, KKE, Workers' Party.

“Organization and struggle for stable work with rights. Immediate measures for the unemployed. Struggle for a society without unemployment, exploitation, capitalists. The answer is socialism.”

Worker, Unemployed

The Communist and Workers Parties of the countries of Europe which have been most affected by unemployment Spain, Greece, Lithuania, Latvia and Ireland call on you to struggle and organize.

We address the 24 million “officially” unemployed people in the European Union, particularly the long term unemployed, the unemployed young people and women who are most badly affected.

We address all those who are not recorded in the official statistics, but experience the same nightmare of unemployment.

We address the semi-employed, the agency workers, the workers without social security, those who work in a state of employment by rotation with flexible shifts, with individual contracts, with piece-work contracts, who experience employer intimidation, who face the danger of dismissal and unemployment.

We address those who are forced into unpaid labour under the pretence of opportunities to return to work; those who are deprived of their entitlements to redundancy payments by employers’ pleading “inability to pay”; workers who are on strike and engaged in occupations and sit-ins to protect their jobs and rights.

We also address the farmers who are being wiped out, the small professional and self-employed who have been led to closure by the assault of the monopolies, the anti-people political line of austerity which attacks the working class-popular families.

All of you, as well as every worker today, better understands that this labour “jungle” is spreading and is becoming a general law which, slowly or quickly, big capital, its governments, and the EU seek to impose in every workplace. There is no time to lose.

In the countries where our parties operate, Spain, Greece, Lithuania, Latvia and Ireland unemployment has reached very dangerous levels. The bourgeois class in each country and the predatory alliance of the EU as a whole, have declared war on the working class and the poor popular strata. The capitalist economic crisis brings new measures which smash whatever the anti-people offensive in the previous period had left upright, especially after the Maastricht Treaty.

In this harsh reality, a handful of plutocrats have made fabulous profits. And yet they demand further measures. Their crisis is not a debt crisis, it is a capitalist crisis which came about due to the over-accumulation of capital.

In order to overcome the crisis in favour of capital, the industrialists, the bankers and the other sections of the plutocracy along with their political representatives impose hard measures in order to further reduce the price of labour power and force more people into unemployment.

In this situation the people’s resistance to these harsh measures has been hindered by those elements in the trade union and labour movement who, having long ago accepted the logic and the ideology of capitalism, now plead that there is no alternative but to succumb to the offensive of capital.

The way forward is to win the majority of workers and their families for class based popular struggles on the strategy which promotes their interests. The Communist and Workers parties must be at the heart of this process.

Struggle together with the class-oriented forces, together with the Communist and Workers parties.

Organize in your unions and workplaces. Contribute to the development of activity. In this direction the strength of the working class can be reinforced.

Demand immediate measures for the protection of the unemployed:

Decent unemployment benefit for all the unemployed.
Comprehensive medical pharmaceutical healthcare and social security protection.
Freezing of their loans and mortgages.

Unemployment is not a natural phenomenon. It is bred by the capitalist system which is characterized by the anarchy in production, by exploitation.

Only a socialist economy, that is to say a centrally planned economy that will be based on workers’ power and the socialized means of production can guarantee the right to work for all.

This is what happened in the Soviet Union and the other socialist countries and it is a historical achievement and one of the many accomplishments of the socialist countries.

Our parties call you to struggle every day, to struggle for the abolition of the exploitation of man by man, for a society without unemployment, for socialism which can satisfy the needs of the people.

The Parties:

Communist Party of Greece

Communist Party of Ireland

Workers Party of Ireland

Socialist Party of Latvia

Socialist People’s Front of Lithuania

Communist Party of the Peoples of Spain

New Broad-Based “Campaign Against Austerity Treaty” Launches Call for EU Referendum January 24, 2012

Posted by Garibaldy in European Union.

A new broad-based campaign calling for a referendum on the proposed EU fiscal compact treaty has been launched. The RTÉ report is here.

Socialist Party MEP Paul Murphy said the treaty would allow unelected bodies like the European Commission and the ECB to control our economic affairs.

He said if a referendum is held there would be an “horrendous campaign of fear and intimidation against ordinary people” to scare them into voting yes, but the people now know what the austerity imposed by the EU and IMF is like.

Sinn Féin’s Eoin Ó Broin said the compact was bad politics and bad economics, and would not solve the crisis.

Padraig Mannion of the Workers’ Party said campaigning through the political process could make it politically impossible for the Government not to hold a referendum.

“I, for one, welcome our new …”: Stephen Collins and the euro crisis December 7, 2011

Posted by Wu Ming in Capitalism, European Union, International Finance, Media and Journalism.

As we approach one of the most significant European Council meetings in recent memory, no one quite knows what the nature of the plan to resolve the euro crisis once and for all is likely to be.  Will it involve new EU institutions with a specific remit to oversee national budgets, or will this role be assigned the the European Council (or Council of Ministers)?  Will it involve substantial Treaty change, or an additional Protocol to the Treaty? Will it apply to the EU-27 or just to Eurozone members?  And to what depths will the proposed fiscal unity extend?

Whatever deal is agreed, one thing is clear: it will be a good one.  Well, at least according to Stephen Collins in Saturday’s Irish Times.  Whatever price ‘we’ pay to save the euro, according to Collins will be worth it.  This is rather shocking, even by the standards of the Times.  They usually have the discretion to wait until a proposal is on the table before agreeing to it.  But Collins’ broad sentiment is echoed across the mainstream Irish media.  There is debate, of course, on what the likely outcome will be, with a wearied acceptance that whatever it is, we’ll have to suck it up, or end up scavenging for tins of dog food in a post-apocalyptic economic future.  However, there’s little or no attempt to engage with the fundamental democratic deficit not just within the EU, but at the heart of the international financial system more generally.

Collins hints at this when he writes:

Irish politicians and the media are already focusing on the threat to Ireland’s 12.5 per cent corporation tax rate as if it is the only important issue for debate. While President Nicolas Sarkozy has certainly targeted low corporate tax rates, Germany has taken a very different view, while the UK and the countries on the eastern side of the EU will all block the French threat from their own perspectives.

Whatever treaty changes emerge, harmonisation of tax rates is unlikely to be one of them. What Irish negotiators need to focus on is not just what we want to block but what kind of treaty changes we favour. EU institutions’ loss of power to the governments of the big powers is a trend that we should work to have reversed.

However, what is missing here is a real understanding of what has been demonstrated over the past year.  What we have seen has not just been the larger EU member states (Germany and France in particular) getting a little big for their boots, the solution being to reign them back in under the happy familial embrace of the EU, with the Commission acting as the warm benevolent Daddy.  No, it is now clear that when it comes to a genuine threat to the interests of international capital, the institutions – even the principles – of the Union are essentially irrelevant.  Nice to have during the good times, when we’re all friends, but when things get tough, best to leave the hard work to the grown ups.

Where was the European Commission, the supposedly defender of small countries against the dominance of large Member States when Papandreou was summoned to Cannes to answer to Merkel and Sarkozy for the impertinence of acting as the Greek head of government without their prior approval (not that this should be taken as any defense of Papandreou?.  The answer is nowhere, because the Commission – the EU qua EU – had no role to play.  Where was the principle of solidarity when Sócrates’ administration in Portugal was forced into requesting a bailout under pressure from national banks under the direction of the ECB (thanks to Donagh at Irish Left Review for the link – both pieces well worth reading) which led to the collapse of the government (again, not to be taken as a defense of Sócrates himself)?

At the risk of hyperbole, it could be argued that one way of looking at what we are witnessing has been the overthrow of last vestiges of democratic government by the forces of international capital, where national administrations which threaten financial markets must be removed, and replaced by more friendly regimes.  Like Chile in 1973 without the massacres.  Or perhaps that’s naive, and what we’re seeing is simply a more blatant, more naked display of the power of the markets over nation states, even over the European Union as an institution.

It was certainly the case that the run-up of the IMF/EU ‘bailout’ of Ireland last year was less an example of pan-European solidarity with a partner which found itself in difficulty, and more a shakedown reminiscent of a Sopranos plot.  Ireland was forced into accepting an extortionate loan to cover the liabilities of those who had irresponsibly thrown money at Irish banks over the past decade (and, needless to say, didn’t do it out of the goodness of their hearts).  Ireland was like the hapless store-owner forced to sell off the business to repay gambling debts owed to the mafia.  Or, to be more accurate, we’re like the family of the gambler, watching our home sold from under us to cover the costs incurred by one idiotic member of the household.

But what must be borne in mind is that the gangsters in this analogy aren’t France, or the Netherlands or even Germany (although maybe they’re the enforcers).  It’s the system of global capital itself, where a Prime Minister, even one as odious as Berlusconi, can be removed from office on the basis of the judgment of a private credit agency.

And, at a time when neoliberalism is finally genuinely in crisis (wishful thinking on the part of some over the past twenty years aside), we are likely to be faced with an agreement to enshrine the Goldman Sachs consensus into European law, binding on Member State governments in perpetuity.  This kind of blinkered thinking is exemplified in Collins’ piece where he writes:

Over the next few months, if all goes well, there will be agreement at EU level to a series of binding budgetary disciplines. This will probably require treaty change and, even though that may result in a bitter referendum, it is very much in Ireland’s interest that it happens. In the long run, such a development will ensure the Irish people will be saved from a repeat of the economic indiscipline and political incompetence that characterised the Bertie Ahern years.

as if the current dire budgetary situation in Ireland was caused by marginal increases in social welfare rates rather than the suicidal decision to guarantee bank debt (and to socialize the private losses).

In a sense, it doesn’t really matter whether the final deal envisages control over Member States’ budgets ceded to the Council of Ministers or to an independent body within the EU.  Once the principle of enshrining the failed policies of fiscal austerity into EU law is agreed, the battle is already lost.  The immediate challenge is to prevent this, and to imagine a Union founded on genuine democratic governance, one with the power to act as bulwark against the power of international markets.  The longer-term goal, of course, must be a meaningful challenge to the neoliberal consensus itself.

Of course, with cheerleaders like Collins declaring the fight over before the opening bell has sounded, this will be  anything but easy.

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