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Another Europe is Possible

Pete Brown

 

The ‘NO’ vote in France and Holland was a clear signal that a very large majority of the French and Dutch people do not want a European Union controlled by free market liberalism, deregulation and obedience to NATO. It is very probable that the same result with a significant majority would occur if the proposed constitution were put to a referendum in the UK in the near future. It is a clear message that when the people are properly informed and allowed to have their say they know what they want.

The reaction from the leading politicians and much of the media is the knee jerk we must expect when their pride is hurt. But the ‘NO’ clearly highlights the democratic deficit that has been built into every constitutional document Europe has chosen since the Treaty of Rome, through Maastricht, Nice and the current shambles. When the people, the citizens who lives the constitution could control are given the right to chose they do not necessarily follow their so-called leaders. For to long too much of the decision making in the Union has been at the behest of the un-elected commission or the Council of Ministers, the one openly elected body of the Union, the Parliament has no power to take decisions democratically.

Do the Commission and the Prime Ministers and Presidents of the 25 countries that make up the EU really believe that given the opportunity to decide that the masses of ordinary working people would support a document cobbled together by none less than the totally discredited former French President Valery Giscard D’Estaing? The whole project excluded the people from the very beginning and political elite is now paying the price.

Apart from Spain, where the government ran an abominable campaign that at times came very close to breaking the law, every other country that has ratified the Treaty has done so through its parliament with no recourse to the people whatsoever. The Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero boasts that 70% of the Spanish people support the Treaty, this is somewhat economical with the truth when the turn out was a lowly 42% and despite the hindrances put deliberately in the way of the ‘No’ campaign 17.5% finally voted against the Treaty, this from an original opinion poll position of under 5%.

The NO votes in France and The Netherlands are about how we are personally recognised and appreciated. The expansion of the EU was never discussed with the populations of the original 15 even though it changed the whole concept of a European Union and the idea that Turkey will be the next member coloured the vote, not for the majority a vote against the Turkish people, but more a vote against smuggling in an important ally of NATO and the USA without any discussion.

In Spain it was clear that those who voted ‘No’ had read much of the Constitution and realised that when you saw through the rhetoric what was left did nothing for ordinary working people, a lot of scepticism arose around the clauses about getting involved in “preventative wars”, an EU army and strong support for NATO. It was obvious to the Spanish Government, remembering that 90% of Spaniards did not want Spain to be involved in the invasion of Iraq, that these articles should not if at all possible become common knowledge so the NO campaign was attacked as anti-European and only the more pious statements were featured in the state controlled broadcasts, both TV and radio. 

But another Europe is possible a Europe based on equality, on social justice, on workers rights, on rights and freedoms for women, on an end to discrimination and the vilification of immigrants, on the sustainable use of the natural and human resources available to us. All that is needed is for the political elite to turn a deaf ear to the whining of big business, take a step back from pandering to the greed of the multinationals and actually ask ordinary people what they want, then think about writing a constitution, perhaps employing poets and philosophers rather lawyers to phrase it. 

 

June 2005

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