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A new start is needed for Europe: The European Left chart a way forward



Below is a Declaration of the Party of the European Left [EL] in which it charts a way forward for the EU after the Irish people rejected the Lisbon treaty, making it null and void. Member Parties of the EL are socialist, communist, red-green and other democratic left parties of the member states and associated states of the European Union. (EU) They work together and establish various forms of co-operation at all levels of political activity in Europe, based on the agreements, basic principles and political aims laid down in the EL Manifesto. Membership to the EL is open to any left party and political organisation in Europe that agrees with the aims and principles of the EL Manifesto and accepts the EL statutes.

MH

The victory of the NO in Ireland is a chance for Europe. It must be seized.

The treaty of Lisbon cannot, and will not, be implemented. It was to be ratified by the 27 countries and the Irish people decided that their country would not do it. The will of the leaders of the European Union, affirmed by the Council of June 19, to continue the ratification process, by pressuring Ireland until it changes opinion, does not have any sense. There is no outcome, neither legal nor political, for this treaty.

The question put today thus consists in an alternative: either stagnation in the crisis or a new departure for Europe, starting from the opinion expressed by its people.

Indeed we need to draw the conclusions owing to the fact that, all these last years, as soon as the possibility was offered to the European people to express themselves about the destiny of Europe, they, starting from their experiment, refused to ratify the policies and the design of the European Union as they are currently proposed to them.

The Irish people are not isolated. On the contrary, they became the interpreter of the other European people to which their governments refused the right to decide by referendum. Their vote confirmed and prolonged the French and Dutch NO of 2005 by rejecting once again the policies of precarisation, pressures on wages and social rights, of attacks against public services, and alignment on NATO. It is indeed a call to real changes in Europe. As the watchword of the opponents to the treaty affirmed: “Say NO to this treaty for a better treaty”. It is the question which is raised from now on.

The French Presidency will start on July 1. The European Left proposes that instead of continuing with the arrogant and the blind way of the leaders of the European Union, it is the occasion for the decisions be to the height of the reality which has just been created: to stop from now on the ratification process of a null and void treaty and to open at large the construction of a new treaty for the European Union.

So that it finally corresponds to the aspirations and needs of the people, this new treaty must rest on other bases than the neoliberal and militaristic ones that were at the heart of the rejections of the successive past treaties. It must be elaborated in a completely new way for the European Union, by a democratic and popular process, ratified by referendum in each and every country. The next elections for the European Parliament must also be a moment of clarification concerning the different positions on the future of Europe. A new text will have to be ratified through referendum in every country. We propose for this purpose, without waiting, initiatives to be taken in order to undertake the work on this treaty. It should be elaborated in association between the European Parliament and the National Parliaments, starting from consultations of the citizens to make their requirements known.

Immediately, deep changes in the social, economic, monetary, environmental, and defence policies are essential. In opposition to this necessity, Nicolas Sarkozy affirms his willingness to keep the course of the “four priorities” which he had himself fixed when imagining that the adoption of “his” Lisbon treaty would be just but a formality. The continuation of the energy and transport public services’ dumping in place of a coherent energy and climatic policy, the shame directive as immigration policy, alignment on NATO as defence policy, orientations compatible with the WTO as agricultural policy… All these decisions are going against the requirements for a social, democratic, ecological, feminist Europe, as factor of peace and solidarity in the world. A Europe of peace and solidarity is more than ever what is needed as an exit to the current crisis.

Together, with all the forces, all those that wish it, let us work to this new departure for Europe.

Paris, June 20, 2008.

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Whither the European Union: Where now after Ireland votes down the Lisbon Treaty.



Some of the media’s analysis as to what lay behind Irelands no vote against the Lisbon Treaty was pretty thin gruel. Even pro EU progressives seem to have completely lost the plot, one prominent commentator claimed those devious Shinners and their colleagues in the No campaign acted in the most clever way when they advised voters, “If you have not read or understood the treaty it would be safer to vote ‘No’.

Why such advise should be regarded a clever, code for underhanded I fear, is beyond me as it is the standard advice solicitors give their clients, “if you have failed to understand a document or are yet to read it, on no account put your moniker upon it.”

Another commentator compared the No vote as the equivalent of blowing up a train as it was about to come into the station, when it was nothing of the sort. The EU has chugged along without the Lisbon Treat for decades and there is absolutely no reason why it should not carry on doing so, although it might help if the European political elite cease acting like arrogant lemmings who appear determined to bring the whole house down.

As to what comes next, well sadly if history is anything to go by, we have a good idea what the Commission will do, they will attempt to get the Treaty through by sleight of hand. This was sign-posted when the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, on hearing the Irish Referendum had been lost, immediately went into Daily Mail speak and starting prattling about having to shelve plans to implement more effective policies on climate change, energy, security, immigration, justice and the fight against crime. Thus having failed to get the treaty through by bureaucratic means alone, due to those troublesome Celts on the fringes of the EU, Barroso and his unelected Gauleiter’s are attempting to brow beat it through by putting on the frighteners,

Not one of the Prime Ministers of the EU’s twenty-seven nation States have stepped up to the plate and declared enough! the Lisbon Treaty is dead. Perhaps they have conveniently forgotten that this is due to the Treaty having failed the criteria they themselves set, which in itself typifies the ever increasing gap between Europe’s political elite and those they govern.

What the people of the Union want is an end to the likes of the European Constitution and the Lisbon Treaty, which in reality were little more than political and economic wish-lists from the European elite. The EU, with 27 member states has reached the stage when its people are no longer prepared to give carte-blanche to its political leaders without a clear and precise system of democratic accountability in place.

The European Commission are making decisions which impact upon the lives of approximately 495.5 million people, yet we have no say in appointing these people nor do with have the means to recall them if they cock up or over step their remit. Let alone put an arm-lock on how the Commission spends our hard eared taxes. [The EU audit has not been signed off for the last thirteen years] *

This democratic deficit is at the heart of peoples discontent with the EU, for example many people feel that they should have had a say when the EU was enlarged from 15 to 25 and then 27 nation States. If one considers both the economic and social consequences of this enlargement it is difficult to argue against this point of view.

Never the less in my judgement despite an underlining feeling of discontent with the EU, not only do a majority of its population still support the Union, but most accept, if the democratic deficit can be overcome, it will move in an evolutionary manner to become the United States of Europe.

Thus the failure of Europe’s politicians to sort out the European Unions democratic deficit is by far the greatest issue of the day, for unless this deficit is corrected the Union will be unable to move forward and effectively tackle the problems that Europe undoubtedly faces, such as climate change, the need to put people before profit, how to build a social Europe and its relationships with the USA and the emerging super powers in the far east, plus countless other secondary issues.

What is needed is a treaty/constitution that centers on democratic accountability, whether the EU supports neo liberal economics or privatization of public services will be up to the politicians whom the electorate of the EU place in power. The current unelected Commission have no mandate to set in stone the future direction of the EU’s economic and social policies, as they attempted to do with the Lisbon Treaty; and when they did the Irish electorate, like the French and Dutch before them, sensed they were over stepping their remit, hence their rejection of the Lisbon Treaty

Perhaps if the current generation of EU politicians understood their job is to serve the people, not the best interest of powerful economic forces, then they just might, by way of the ballot box, get a democratic constitution passed into law. If they fail to recognize this fact and carry on as they are, the people of Europe will rightly or wrongly decide their best interest is served by the nation state.

* http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7092102.stm

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