AKEL, AKEL intervention in "AVANTE" Festival debate: “The EU is not Europe: Challenges and struggles of workers and peoples”

9/11/19 2:47 PM
  • Cyprus, Progressive Party of the Working People [AKEL] En Europe Communist and workers' parties

Intervention by Neoklis Sylikiotis, member of the Political Bureau of the C.C. of AKEL, in the debate:

“The European Union is not Europe: Challenges and struggles of workers and peoples”

Festival “AVANTE”, September 2019

Dear friends and comrades,

First of all I would like to express our thanks to the Portuguese Communist Party for inviting us to participate in today's debate. On this occasion, I would like to convey the comradely greetings of the Central Committee of AKEL to the communists of Portugal. Furthermore, I also convey our will to strengthen the cooperation and unity of action between our fraternal Parties, both within the framework of the international communist movement, as well as at the level of the Group of the Left in the European Parliament.

The debate surrounding the European Union can now be conducted on the basis of the concrete reality and practical results that its policies have brought to our continent and its peoples.

Instead of “prosperity”, today the peoples across the EU are counting 16 million people unemployed, over 110 million suffering in conditions of poverty and 4 million homeless people. At the same time, billions are being channeled to bail out the banks and impose cuts in the funds for social programs and agricultural policy that are subsequently to be allocated to the arms and war industries. The control exercised over member states as regards fiscal discipline is draconian and suffocating,whereas when it comes to labour and social rights only wishesare expressed.

Instead of "democracy and freedom", the lobbies of the multinational companies determine the EU’s policies. Elected governments are confronted withblatant threats and are subject toblackmail. Referendums are ignored or repeated until the peoples vote in line with the wishes of the EU.

Instead of “peace”, the EU is constantly being militarized, deepening its organic link with NATO, making a shift in investmenttowards the arms and war industry and permitting the masssale of weapons worth billions of Euros by its member states to warring regions and authoritarian regimes.

Instead of "solidarity", walls are being erected and an entire army of border guards is being set up to keep refugees out of "Fortress Europe", whilst thousands of refugees have and are drowning in the Mediterranean Sea. At the same time, the xenophobic governments that are members of the European People's Party and the far-right are not only closing their borders, but are now imposing fines on those rescuing shipwrecked refugees.

The "European Union" is currently facing deadlocks and contradictions because this was its inevitable course as an advanced form of capitalist integration. For that reason, this dramatic socio-economic reality that the peoples are experiencing today hasn’t happened by chance or incidentally. It is the result of the capitalist characterof the EU itself. It is the consequence of the political choices which the ruling classes in the member states have elaborated, promoted and imposed jointly by both the European Right, as well as European social democracy.

Today the European Union can neither be reformed, nor beautified, as in any case neither can capitalism itself too. The economic, political, constitutional, legal and institutional framework that the EU has forged represents a suffocating framework, which is continually curbing national sovereignty. More specifically, as regards the possibilities of pursuing an independent and alternative economic policy things have never been so clear. The "Stability Pact", "Euro-Plus Pact", "European Stability Mechanism", “Fiscal Pact", “European Semester, "Enhanced Economic Governance", "Six-Pack" and "Two-Pack"all constitute the mechanism of the European Union for the imposition of privatizations and restructuring which big capital demands,in combination with austerity policies and cuts in working people’s incomes and social gains. The New Framework for Economic Governance has made thesemeasures and entire mechanism whichserves big capital both permanent and applicable across the EU. In AKEL’s view, there is an urgent need to open, in principle, a bold and open-minded dialogue on the character and operation of the European Monetary Union as a mechanism that reproduces inequalities between and within member-states.

The much-advertised "Banking Union" is aimingat the centralization of banking capital and the defence of the big banks.

In the face of thisgiven situation, dear comrades and friends, the question raised before all the Communist and left-wing parties in Europe, to the progressive forces of our continent is: "What do we do?" Without anyoneclaiming that they have infallible magicalsolutions, our own answers to this question are as follows:

  • First and foremostwe should reveal the truth about the EU, its character and policies. Even when we are being accused by our opponents of “Europhobia” and “backwardness”, we must tell our peoples the truth about what the consequences are of the policies being elaborated each time by the EU directorates affecting their lives and rights.
  • Second. We once again want to underline that answer to this grim European reality for the peoples and workers is not the Euroscepticism of the extreme-right, that represents the reserve force of the system, namely Le Pen, Salvini, Orban and all their other versions that extend up to the neo-Nazis and neo-fascist formations. These are forces that of coursedo not essentially oppose the capitalist character of the EU and the neoliberal choices that accompany it. After all, it is now clear that the boundaries between the Right and extreme-right have become very indistinguishable in Europe as well. Elsewhere, these forcesparticipate in governments together, vote for the same anti-social policies andemploy the same rhetoric. Every day they look more and more like each other.
  • Third. We projectdemands - immediate goals for assertion - that can alleviate the current situation and suffocating control over member-states, such as:
  • The abolition of the Fiscal Pact, the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance and the European Semester, together with their replacementbypolicies promoting social convergence, employment and sustainable growthwithout any exclusions.
  • Public control and decentralization of the banking sector, as opposed to the establishment of the Banking Union, as well as the immediate termination of the process for the establishment of the Capital Market Union.
  • The introduction of a Framework-Directive for the promotion of dignified work in all forms of employment by ensuring, for every working person, abasicpackage of enforceable rights in relation to the minimum wage, pensions and unemployment benefits.
  • The EU's accession in the European Social Charter so that tools shall be given to tackle the most anti-social aspects of the Single Market and the Economic Governance Framework, in particular as regards the member states in the periphery.
  • Fourth. We shouldintensify the popular and worker’s struggles in every country in Europe, in which the role and contribution of the Communist Left has been and will continue to be irreplaceable; struggles against the policies of the EU, both at anational and European level, both inside and outside parliaments and the European Parliament. Of crucial importance for us is to maintain and strengthen the cooperation between the left forces within the European Parliament through the Group of the Left (GUE/NGL). Its confederal character and the agreement on substantive political issues allow for the co-operation of forces that - despite their diversity - can represent the voice for a different Europe inside the European Parliament.

In conclusion, dear friends and comrades, we as AKEL connect the struggle to halt neoliberal policies and for the implementation of measures promoting social protection with the struggle for another, for a radically different Europe.Besides, the Left has never rejected the perspective of European unification, given that in our view the cooperationbetweenthe geographical regions of the world represents objectivelya step forward in humanity’s historical development. Only the nationalist forces on the Right reject the vision of a united European continent in which peoples, nations, languages, religions and cultures shallcoexist in peace.

From whom and with what materials? "What Europe do our peoples want and need?" This is the question History sets.For us, the Europe we want is a Europe of democracy and equality of its members, not the EU of directorates.

A Europe of peace, cooperation and social progress and not the EU of NATO and the arms industries.

A Europe that will serve those who produce the wealth, that is to say the working people and not the EU of the bankers and multinational monopolies.

A Europe of democratic freedoms, individual rights and open pluralistic societies.

Because, comrades, Europe is not the European Union and the Brussels directorates.

Europe is the democratic and militant legacies and struggles of the peoples of our continent.

Europe is the values ​​of humanism, peace, solidarity, social and political rights.

Europe is the class and socio-political struggles waged by our peoples.

This is the Europe that inspires us today and tomorrow.

This is the Europe that unites the peoples.

A Europe of the Peoples and Socialism