Socialist Worker

European neoliberals plan treaty to attack workers’ rights

by Simon Basketter
Issue No. 2050

While Tony Blair used the video sharing website YouTube to praise the newly elected French president Nicholas Sarkozy as a “strong leader”, a dangerous new consensus is developing among European leaders to push through neoliberalism.

Sarkozy is a conservative who has cited Blair’s transformation of the Labour Party as a political inspiration.

Blair was the first to be told who Sarkozy intended to appoint as his prime minister. Sarkozy and Blair are uniting with right wing German leader Angela Merkel to push through a new European constitution.

In 2005 voters in referendums in France and the Netherlands rejected the neoliberal European constitution.


One of Blair’s final acts as British prime minister will be to negotiate a “basic outline agreement for a treaty” at the European Union (EU) summit on 21-22 June. He says his plan is to “sort it out, then move on”.

The treaty plan combines a neoliberal Europe run by the bigger countries with deregulation of public services and worse rights for workers.

Gordon Brown will be left to oversee negotiations on the small print in the following months.

Under the new plan, which is already agreed in principle between Sarkozy, Merkel and Brown, the word “constitution” will be ditched.

Brown backs a slimmed down treaty that focuses on “modernising” the EU’s rules and institutions. This would be ratified in parliament – meaning that Labour can get away without holding a referendum.


The new treaty would retain the commitment to neoliberalism from the rejected European constitution. It will call for an “internal market where competition is free and unrestricted”.

Another sign of the direction the neoliberals want to push Europe in is the EU parliamentary debate on the European Commission’s green paper, Modernising Labour Law to Meet the Challenges of the 21st Century.

The commission says its purpose is to examine how “labour law impacts on labour market flexibility and how to facilitate new ways of working and promote employment”.

The proposals would change employment law to cut workers’ rights and increase the casualisation of labour.

In driving through attacks on workers, Brown and his European allies will follow the same path as Blair.

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Tue 8 May 2007, 18:20 BST
Issue No. 2050
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