European Union

The Schengen agreement, regarded alongside monetary union as one of the twin pillars of the European Union, is on the brink of collapse. Its looming suspension marks the latest stage in the crisis of the European Union.

The recent European Parliament elections have caused shock waves in the continent’s political landscape. Big victories were scored by anti-establishment parties in countries such as France, Greece and the UK provoking alarm in the mainstream political parties. The argument that these elections represent a sharp swing to the right – and even fascism – is entirely false.

Tsipras has been chosen by the Party of the European Left (EL) as candidate for the Presidency of the European Union. Does his programme offer a solution to the problems facing workers across Europe?

All the talk about the European crisis finally “turning the corner” has gone up in smoke as crisis ruturns big time to Europe. In the aftermath of the collapse of the Dutch government over its austerity budget and the uncertainly surrounding the French Presidential elections, the political battle over austerity has moved from Europe’s peripheral south to the heart of the eurozone itself.

Two days ago Angela Merkel was warning that peace in Europe could be endangered if an agreement was not reached at the EU summit on how to manage the crisis that has engulfed the euro and the whole of the EU economy. Speaking to the German parliament she said, “No one should think that a further half century of peace and prosperity is assured. It isn't. And that's why I say if the euro fails, Europe will fail, and that mustn't happen." Some of the more serious strategists of capital have even raised the prospect that the euro could break up. The 27 EU leaders on Wednesday night, however, finally produced a three part deal.

The following leaflet is to be distributed by supporters of Der Funke at the IUSY festival in Austria next week. The leaflet explains the need for a socialist answer to the crisis, rather than the bail-outs and austerity programs that are put forward by various Social Democratic or Socialist parties around Europe.

The Euro zone is in a mess. After a year of huge financial bail outs intended to calm the markets, the latter are very unstable, with a marked downward tendency. Signs of slowing global growth, and the continuing euro zone debt crisis, have caused the markets to slump. The nervousness of the markets is an accurate reflection of the growing anxiety of the bourgeois about the economic prospects for Europe.

The title of The Economist article said it all: “Europe: More pain, little gain”. All over Europe, governments are struggling to bring huge deficits under control. In order to do this, they pass the bill to the working class and the middle class. Gradually the truth is beginning to dawn on the workers. They are faced with a whole period of cuts and attacks on living standards. And they are reacting.

On September 29 more than 100,000 trade unionists from 27 different countries marched through Brussels in protest against the austerity measures being imposed by governments across the whole of Europe. The turnout was far greater than the trade union organisers had expected and it reveals the seething anger that is spreading throughout the whole of the European working class.

Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets across Europe as strikes and demonstrations caused widespread disruption. The main action came in Belgium, Greece, and Spain with trade unions fighting against austerity measures that will have devastating consequences for the jobs and lives of working people. Strikes or protests took place in 37 countries, including Portugal, Ireland, Slovenia and Lithuania.

The European Union, along with powers like the USA and Japan, has long had a policy of establishing economic relations with former colonies that impose the will of imperialism on the economic development of these countries. Supposedly instruments designed for “poverty alleviation”; in reality their main purpose is to open the markets of these poorer countries to goods flowing in from the advanced capitalist nations.

Under capitalism there is a steady unremitting pressure on workers’ living standards from the capitalist class, particularly as they compete with one another, and with bosses all around the world, to cut costs - especially labour costs. This need for employers to attack the wages and conditions of European workers has been intensified by the onset of crisis.

Present-day economic conditions demand that the working class fight back. The interests of the ruling class and the working class are irreconcilable. The bourgeois are screaming, "more cuts, more cuts" and the workers shout back "Enough is enough". The stage has been set for a "Hot Spring" in Europe.

On April 5 while the EU finance ministers and bankers were meeting in Brdo pri Kranju (Slovenia) 35,000 workers from all over Europe marched through Ljubljana demanding higher wages as inflation eats into their living standards. A delegation of the IMT from Austria, Italy and Switzerland was present.

A recent bulletin of the European Central Bank (ECB) dealt with the causes of recent increases in the rate of inflation within the "Eurozone". It is no surprise to find that what they are concerned about are wage increases. Like the high priests in the past they try to cover up reality and make us believe in a fantasy world.

This Saturday, April 5, European finance ministers will hold a meeting in Ljubljana, Slovenia. The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) has called for a demonstration to demand better wages and conditions for workers in Europe on the same day. Supporters of the International Marxist Tendency from Italy, Austria and Switzerland will join the protest and give out the following leaflet in five different languages (English, Slovenian, Italian,...

The Visegrad Four are Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, ex-Stalinist countries who have joined the European Union and are also preparing the conditions for entry into the Euro. The way they are doing it is by attacking viciously all the social gains of the workers. Sooner or later this will lead to an explosion of the class struggle.