Socialist Worker

The European Union is a bosses' club—and can't be reformed

Issue No. 2506

Strikes in France show the way

Strikes in France show the way (Pic: Force Ouvriere)


Two visions of European unity are starkly on show this week.

On one side are the bosses and politicians seeking to frighten and bamboozle people into voting to remain in the European Union (EU).

The bosses’ Confederation of British Industry and the governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney have openly backed the Remain campaign.

Their allies in the European Round Table of Industrialists, the International Monetary Fund and the White House are all for Remain.

This is the internationalism of profit-making. As their records show, they push globalisation for the needs of the rich.

Bankers’ institutions, which push polices that have wrecked whole economies, have the gall to lecture us about the dangers of leaving the EU.

On the other side there are the French workers sending a clear message across a continent—we have the power to fight back.

Whatever happens in France, it’s clear that changes to the working class during the last 30 years have not eliminated the potential for successful resistance.

Strikes can still be powerful—workers can bring the capitalist economy to the halt.

The indefinite rail strike in Belgium and the strikes in Greece are further signs that should cheer workers everywhere.

They will be hated by bosses, whichever side they take in the referendum.

The unity we want to see is based on international solidarity with workers fighting back across the world.

Workers’ internationalism is the polar opposite of the unity of the EU bosses’ club, which bolsters imperialism and leaves refugees to die at the borders of Fortress Europe.

“Our people” are not the rich and powerful of Britain or any other country.

“Our people” are workers in Europe and anywhere else in the world.

A victory against the bosses’ Work Law in France would be our victory too.

A Leave vote in the EU referendum would deal a savage blow to the bosses’ Europe, but it would not weaken the international links between workers in struggle.

The EU has done nothing to protect the rights of refugees or workers against the attacks of the bosses and the state.

It is resistance that will defend the rights we’ve won through struggle, not the EU.

That was true in the past and it is still true today.

Socialists should argue to break with the EU and organise as strongly as possible for workers to link up their struggles against the bosses of Europe.


EU cannot be reformed

The European Union (EU) imposes austerity that trashes workers’ lives.

It upholds racist laws that condemn refugees to drown in the sea.

Some left supporters of the EU say it can be reformed. In reality, it is a thoroughly capitalist institution designed to protect the rich.

Its forerunner, the European Economic Community, was set up by Western European ruling classes to make it easier for bosses to compete. The EU has continued this role.

It gives multinational firms access to much bigger markets and workforces.

The EU is the largest economic bloc in the world.

EU laws enshrine bosses’ “freedom” to set up businesses, move capital and push privatisation and “free trade”.

Fundamental change requires all 28 member states to agree.

It is an illusion to think that such an institution will backanti-capitalist measures.

EU institutions, such as the European Commission and European Central Bank, are made up of unelected bureaucrats.

The European Parliament has limited powers and is largely ignored.

Rights for workers and refugees won’t come through pinning our hopes on reforming the EU. They will come through challenging it.


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