From Avante! Newspaper of the Portuguese Communist Party
September 8, 2018
The process of European capitalist integration — now embodied in the European Union (EU) — has had serious repercussions for our country. Over the last three decades, the EU’s policies, limitations and constraints have resulted in the loss of sovereignty, growing dependence, economic stagnation, weakening of the national productive apparatus, alienation of strategic sectors, growing attacks on social and labor rights, degradation of public services and the association of Portugal with the militaristic and interventionist strategy of the EU and NATO.
Contrary to what is proclaimed by the defenders of the European Union, the process of integration did not bring about a convergence of the levels of economic development and living conditions of the peoples of the different countries of Europe. On the contrary, the direction has been of divergence and accentuation of asymmetries.
Some argue that this divergence is offset by funds coming from the EU to Portugal. False! Just look at the cases of Portugal and Greece to realize that what these countries have already lost due to the euro and the Common Market is far from being compensated by these funds. The solidarity of the European Union is a farce. Instead of solidarity, what characterizes the EU is the rule of the strongest.
This became quite clear when the economic and financial crisis of the last ten years broke out. The so-called “solidarity” of the EU has resulted in the imposition to countries such as Portugal, Greece and Ireland of truly aggressive pacts that have left a trail of loss of sovereignty, economic destruction and brutal attacks on the rights of workers and peoples in these countries.
The big multinationals and the megabanks did indeed profit from these pacts, fattening their profits and concentrating even more capital and power. But it was not only in the countries intervened by the troika that the peoples felt the effects of the policy of exploitation of workers and concentration of wealth. When we say that Germany or France profited from the EU, it is important to underline that it was the big capital of these countries that found in the EU a means to extend its dominion across the European continent and to impose ever greater levels of exploitation upon the workers of all countries.
Theses Denied by Life
Another thesis claimed by the EU defenders is that the EU process is a guarantor of peace and stability in Europe and even in the world. But it would suffice, for example, to recall the war of aggression against Yugoslavia at the end of the twentieth century, or to look at the present involvement of the EU is in the geo-strategic siege of the Russian Federation to deny such claims.
The truth is that what brought peace and stability to Europe was the victory over Nazi-fascism and not the process of capitalist integration. This process has been from the outset, associated with the colonial and imperialist domination of the major powers of the EU, and today it increasingly stands as the European pillar of NATO, having developed in concert with the US its militarist pillar and an interventionist and neocolonial policy.
Another argument of EU defenders is that EU is a kind of champion of human rights and democracy. Once again reality denies such theses. In fact, the democracy as it stands today in most European countries is a result from long processes of struggle and conquest of workers and peoples, whether in terms of social and economic democracy — the fruit of the great victories of the labor movement in the twentieth century — or of political democracy with achievements in processes of struggle and in revolutions, such as the
Indeed, and if we want to be rigorous, as the EU has accentuated the concentration of wealth and power, the concentration of political power has also increased in the European Union. States have been progressively deprived of elements of sovereignty which are an integral part of political democracy. The EU has been concentrating its decision-making power on an increasing number of central issues, trying to “safeguard” its control of popular scrutiny. Examples of this are all the rules and limitations of the Economic and Monetary Union and of Economic Governance, which seek to take away from the national sphere the decision-making power of economic, fiscal and fiscal policies and, more recently, of fundamental questions of sovereignty, such as foreign policy and border control.
But there is more. As shown by the referendums in several European countries, the will of the peoples has been several times called into question when it did not “match” the interests of the EU. There were several processes of shameless interference in elections; of referendum repetition until the “right” result was obtained; or even the imposition of government solutions, as was the case in Italy. Democracy has also been attacked by sanctions, blackmail and impositions, associated with the troika’s aggression pacts or contrived to condition political decisions as was the case of Portugal after the legislative elections of 2015. In fact, the EU is no example of democracy or of respect for human rights. If this were the case, its policy towards serious humanitarian issues, such as the one of refugees, would be quite different, first of all by reversing the policies of economic colonization and war that are the origin of these migratory movements. What marks EU policy is hypocrisy and not the defense of human rights.
The Contradictions Get Stronger
The contradictions of European Union are today fully unveiled. Those already mentioned, and others. The exit of Great-Britain is one of the most visible faces of the deep crisis in the process of integration. It could hardly be otherwise. The reason is the EU is not a process of cooperation between sovereign states. It is a process of imposition and domination which, from its inception, aims to respond to the needs of big European capital and of the main powers of Europe to extend their ruling — economic and therefore political — beyond their national borders. It is surely a process of integration, of capitalist integration.
It therefore contains within itself the same social, economic and political features and contradictions inherent in the system of which it is an expression — capitalism. Over the years such contradictions have been resolved by “unity” against the “external enemy” (originally, the USSR); by territorial enlargement (or successive enlargements) of the economic sphere and through the deepening of the integration process, guaranteeing the larger powers a greater share of the “booty”.
The economic crisis of the last decade has further highlighted these contradictions. Not only the class contradictions, but also those among sectors of big capital. The departure of the United Kingdom is the most vivid example of the combination of these two axes of contradiction. And is not the only one. The social situation, coupled with growing attacks on sovereignty and democracy, has created growing opposition of the EU workers and peoples, well reflected in the penalization of the political wings responsible for conducting the process of capitalist integration — the right wing and the social-democracy
The resurgence of the far right, inseparable from the growing contradictions between sectors of the big capital, is fueled by this situation and by the policies that rekindle reactionary and populist nationalisms, such as those of supranational imposition. It is a product, as has always been, of the ruling classes, of their policies and their processes of ruling.
EU ruling circles are making efforts to overcome the accumulation of contradictions. They are well aware that the economic situation is far from being stabilized and try to deal simultaneously with the complex process of reorganizing forces at the global level. The answer that is being attempted seeks to re-edit the three axes of “resolution” just described.
Militarism is accentuated, justified by the “new” diffuse enemy of “terrorism” (fed precisely by the EU Powers); an even greater process concentration of capital and power is attempted, in particular by means of the so-called “Completion of economic and monetary union”, the extension of the single market to new areas and the so-called “institutional reform”; finally, the idea of enlargement is not abandoned, as is evident in the opening of doors in the Balkans area, or in the coup operation in Ukraine that brought fascist and neo-Nazi forces to government.
The far right, “nationalisms”, “populisms” and “radicalisms” are used as a sort of “fifth column” that has to be fought against and for that purpose everything goes. With the current are dragged all those who contest the developing process of capitalist integration. But in fact, and as reality has been demonstrating, the far right does not call into question the essential core of the EU. Moreover, it is increasingly used as a sort of “screen”, behind which the reactionary nature of EU policies is strengthened.
The situation is being used for a new wave of laundering of the EU policies and the nth repetition of the idea of “reform”. But the contradictions do not cease to deepen. No wonder. The European Union is not reformable, its development confirms Lenin’s thesis that “The United States of Europe under capitalism are either impossible or reactionary”.
Sovereignty and Co-operation
The question of the alternative is therefore in the order of the day. And, contrary to the lies about the position of the PCP, the Communists do not advocate any isolationist solution, on the contrary.
The solution is to build paths of genuine co-operation in Europe. Paths that to a Europe of big capital and big Powers counterpose a Europe of the workers and peoples. Paths that counterpose economic development to economic stagnation and decline. That counterpose social progress to civilizational retrogression. That counterpose democracy and the sovereignty of peoples to supranational impositions. That counterpose peace and co-operation among peoples to the threat of war. This is a struggle which necessarily involves the rejection of EU impositions; the firm rejection of the pressures and blackmail exerted on sovereign countries, as it happens with Portugal.
The construction of another Europe of workers and peoples, of peace, co-operation, progress and social justice, can only come from the defeat of the process of capitalist integration embodied in the European Union and the sovereign assertion of the right to economic and social development of peoples of the various European countries.
— The EU post-2020 budget cuts in economic and social cohesion and in agriculture and increases funding for militarism and war and for large projects serving the multinationals.
— According to official figures, there are about 20 million unemployed people in the European Union.
— By 2016, there were over 118 million people in the EU at risk of poverty and social exclusion.
— The European Union has been and still is involved in wars of aggression against Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and Syria.
– The six most populous EU countries now hold 70% of the EP vote (Germany, France, Italy, UK, Spain, and Poland
Thanks to Portuguese Marxist scholar Joaquim Marques de Sa for calling this article to our attention. His website is http://revolucaoedemocracia.blogspot.com/2018/10/o-pcp-sobre-ue-pcp-on-eu.html