Thursday, 16 July 2015

After Greece where should the Greens stand on the EU and the Referendum?

Events in Greece have led to a discussion in the Green Party, particularly amongst Green Left, about the party's position on the EU in general and the referendum in particular.  The Green Party's official position is what has been called the 'Three Yeses': Yes to a referendum, Yes to major EU reform, and Yes to staying in a reformed Europe.

The benefits of EU social policy are now being weighed against the neoliberal assumptions and anti-democratic tendencies revealed in what Caroline Lucas has termed 'a coup'.

The Green's Autumn Conference takes place in September and will offer a forum to discuss these issues which could contribute to a change of position.

Below is a video of Romayne Phoenix of the Green Party and Green left speaking at the demonstration which took place outside the German Embassy in London last night and a guest blog by Haroon Saad of London Green Party and  Green Left which was first published on the London Green Left blog LINK.

The European dream is being destroyed by those who claim to act in defence of that dream. The dream was already beginning to fade but the front of screen and back of screen machinations that have accompanied the “Greek tragedy” played out over the last six months and the eventual   “treaty of reparations” –or otherwise known as the “deal” – has killed the dream for me.

It’s salutary to go back to the beginning. As hardly anyone knows, the current EC grew out what was called the European Coal and Steel Community. It’s here that one can locate the European Dream.

Again as hardly anyone knows, 9 May is known as Europe Day. 9 of May is Europe Day because it was on that date in 1950 that what is known as the Schuman Declaration was launched and which laid out the key features of the European dream. A revisit to this is illuminating in terms of “progress to date”.
  • It would mark the birth of a united Europe.
An element of the dream that no longer relates to reality. In treating Greece as an “outsider” we have seen the reemergence of an imperial and colonial mindset. It may yet come to German style “stormtroopers” being the response that explodes in Greece. It’s not just Greece, however, the EU may be united but it is unequal. It’s an EU dominated by Germany with several smaller states simply being vassals. The problem goes even deeper when you consider the impact of EU funds and how they have widened disparity between regions in the EU.
  • It would make war between member states impossible.
If you ignore the Balkans and Srebrenica, then this has held up well in terms of old style warfare. However, the Troika, the replacement of the elected government in Italy with an appointed technocratic boss, the bulldozing away of the Greek prime minister when he had the nerve to suggest that it might be appropriate to check out what the Greek people thought about the terms of the bailout being stuffed down the throats of the Greeks by France and Germany, the contempt with which the Cypriots were treated etc has just been warfare through financial markets and financial institutions like the ECB.   
  • It would encourage world peace.
It's salutatory to remember that “black lives are worth less”- more African, Asian, Latin American, and Arab, people have died through conflict  since the Second World War than those  who died in the second world war. Europe in fact has exported war and the EU has financed state terror. Follow the money as they say and voila you will find that the EU arms industry is doing very well.
  • It would transform Europe in a 'step by step' process leading to the unification of Europe democratically, unifying two political blocks separated by the “Iron Curtain”
There is a huge democratic deficit if the European Institutional framework that has been established. Everyone goes round pointing out what important work the EP undertakes and how it is directly elected by citizens. The EP for its first 30 years simply rubber stamped 83% of what the European Council decided. The EC is the place where our elected leaders wine and dine and talk and make decisions without any accountability. Sure there is “cloak of accountability” provided by the phase “some decisions of the EC have to be ratified by national parliaments”. However, this just conveniently ignores the fact that the EC sits on top of a largely broken and corporate dominated party political system.

There is no democratic accountability for the European Commission. Incredible given the fact that it has the power to initiate legislation. That it has the power to deal with trade and investment matters.

With Nato trashing the 1997 agreements with Russia regarding expansion of Nato and the “soviet bloc”, need I say more given the fact the phrase “cold war” has suddenly come back out of hibernation.
  • It would create the world's first supranational institution.
If you ignore the UN then this element of the dream may just hold up. The problem is that over 60% of European citizens have no trust in the supra national institutions that have been created.
  • It would create the world's first international anti-cartel agency.
This has turned out to be the exact opposite. The EU has institutionalised corporate democracy. Big business interest rule in Brussels, there is a revolving door mechanism from and to big business and the EU institutions. The expert groups that “advise” the EU institutions are dominated by corporate interests. Key texts produced by the Commission turn out to be just cut and paste versions of submissions made by vested interest groups.
  • It would create a common market across the Community.
In terms of capital and goods one could say that the dream has been largely realized but when it comes to labour then it’s a nightmare scenario with deportations now taking place regularly  between member states(e.g. Belgium is routinely deporting EU citizens without work). With the coming restrictions on access to welfare benefits for EU citizens, the free movement of labour will be reduced to one for those who can afford it.
  • It would, starting with the coal and steel sector, revitalise the whole European economy by similar community processes.
Steel production has declined. A renaissance in coal is underway with Germany and Poland (or coal land as it is referred to in environmental circles), but this will be very short lived as China moves off coal usage. Growth for the past 15 years has been anemic and globally the EU is in decline with its share of the shrinking global trade set to decline further in the coming decades.  We have rising poverty in Europe. A whole new category of “in work poverty” has been created. We have had youth unemployment levels running at over 14% since 2000. Long term unemployment is growing. Indeed, given the current stagnation the EU has created structural unemployment as feature of the economy.   
  • It would improve the world economy and the developing countries, such as those in Africa.
Far from improving the situation in Africa, it has initiated a new rape of continents like Africa through dumping of subsidized farm goods, through displacement of rural labour by the introduction of agri-business style agriculture which produces food for anyone but the Africans. It has fermented civil war through arms sales and bribes. It has participated in destroying countries like Libya and Syria through its so called “wars for democracy”. The saga of the migrants in the Med is just a visible sign of how much damage has been inflicted upon Africa.

So the dream is dead. What will we be voting for next year in our referendum? The issue is no longer just about whether or not any more power can be ceded to the EU institutions. Nor is the issue about what powers need to be repatriated.  It’s not about being pro- or anti-Europe. We need to dismantle what we currently have and re-establish the European project with a new dream. For that we need new dreamers of which there is simply a dearth at this moment in time.

Written by Haroon Saad who is a member of the London Green Party and a supporter of Green Left


Unknown said...

Im leaning towards voting out in an 'in / out' referendum. I've always been a supporter of the EU as I don't trust the British Political system and it provides a vital check & balance. I've also been a fan of the things that have been done for the environment & human rights. However it was TTIP that started to push me over the edge & seeing at the Euro Hustings last year that smug Claude Morae was negotiating it for us leaves me with limited hope.

This whole Greece situation also epitomises why 'something is rotten in the heart of the EU' as Green Jenny Jones has written.

I've never been convinced that the 'trade' argument is a legitimate one as there are countries ourside the EU that do alright.
Whilst the other cited fundamental benefit of 'free movement of people' fringes upon the racist or xenophobic as it only applies to Western Countries.

As the saying now goes: "i like the idea of an EU - just not sure about this one"

Similar / better opportunities could be formed through the EU or even the CommonWealth despite its colonial origins. Its of note that the only freedom of movement between commonwealth countries that are being argued for is again, white western ones.

Unknown said...

*Similar / better opportunities could be formed through the UN - rather.