THE ANNUAL CONGRESS OF ENHEDSLISTEN/THE RED-GREEN ALLIANCE, 14 - 16 MAY 2016
The Red-Green Alliance aims to create a better society to the benefit of ordinary people. In such a society democracy will encompass the entire society, including the economy, and solidarity will include everybody. We hold that people and the environment take precedence over market and profit considerations. We believe that decisions should be made as closely to the citizens as possible, and that change should come from below. We believe that greater equality is the core of ensuring a sustainable and democratic society to the benefit of man as well as our planet.
We want a society where democracy, environmental sustainability and equality are the driving forces in developing society, and where cross-border solidarity transcends the borders of the EU. This vision underlies our position on the EU that we present in this EU Programme.
The striving for maximum profit is the core of capitalism. Therefore globalization is inherent in capitalism. This applies to the sale of goods, the production of commodities, and it applies to the commodity called labour.
In 1848 Karl Marx wrote: "The cheap commodity prices are the heavy artillery that shatter all Chinese walls." Since then globalization has continued unabated. Today there is hardly any spot on the globe that has not been included into and subjected to the world marked and capitalist competition.
The EU is an instrument for the strengthening of market forces and capitalism to the detriment of democracy, the workers, the environment and nature, not an instrument for greater solidarity and equality.
In 1951 France, West Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg founded the "European Coal and Steel Community” (ECSC). To the war weary peoples this cooperation was presented as a guarantee against a new war between Germany and France, but its primary objective was to strengthen the important European coal and steel industry and to compete with the United States on the world market.
Thus from the beginning the ECSC was a tool of European capital.
Since its establishment, the ECSC cooperation has been gradually expanded to include more areas and to include more and more countries.
In 1957 the 6 above-mentioned countries concluded the Treaty of Rome, creating the European Economic Community (EEC). The path of "ever closer union" had been set. In 1986 the establishment of the Single Market was decided, which exposed basically all commodities, including labour, to competition. In 1992 the Maastricht Treaty was adopted. This treaty established the guidelines for a common policy in the areas of justice and internal affairs, defence, foreign policy and the creation of a single currency.
In 2009 the Lisbon Treaty came into force. Until now this treaty is the culmination of the formation of a European federal union. This union deals with all important aspects of society, it takes decisions by majority vote where big countries count more than small, and where the Euro shall be the currency of all, except Denmark and the UK, who are excepted according to the Treaty.
This entire development from the ECSC to the Euro Union and from 6 to 28 member states has, however, not changed anything when it comes to the basic fact that the Union is an instrument of European capital.
Basically the overall objective of the EU is a continuation of the ECSC and the EEC, which is to serve business interests.
The core of the EU is the Single Market where goods, labour, capital and services - the so-called "four freedoms" - can move completely unimpeded in the hunt for profit. Even though common minimum standards have been set in a number of areas, the result has been a pressure to reduce standards of welfare services, wages, working conditions, the environment, nature, consumer protection, animal welfare etc. in those countries or sectors with the best conditions.
The rules on the free movement of labour give the employers opportunities to abuse foreign workers in order to press and undermine trade union and social rights on the labour market. This kind of social dumping has become of decisive importance in Denmark after the entry of the East European countries into the EU.
The guidelines for the Euro and the economic policies of the individual countries are based on bourgeois economic thought. An example of this is the EU-dictated austerity policies in countries like Ireland, Greece, Spain and Portugal, which have thrown millions and millions of people into unemployment and poverty. The workers in the EU are experiencing massive interventions leading to a deterioration of existing collective agreements, limitations of the rights to industrial action, and privatizations. All this is eroding the public welfare systems.
The EU does not limit itself to enforcing market fundamentalism within its own borders. The EU is determined to ensure European corporations larger market shares and more freedom to make profits in the rest of the world. This is a decisive contribution to keeping the countries of the Global South dependent on the highly developed capitalist countries and to maintaining their peoples in poverty.
In a democracy, the people can elect a new government in order to change policies. But in the EU, the fundamental political line is enshrined in the Treaty, which makes it impossible to change it by means of new elections.
The fact is that there exists no other constitution in the world where the rights of capital have been written so clearly and emphatically as in the EU’s treaty base, and that is so permeated by the idea that trade union and social rights as well as protection of the environment and nature are subordinated the right of free movement of capital.
The opportunities of people to influence EU policies are much smaller than their opportunities to exert political influence within the individual member states. This is due to a number of factors: For instance that a common European public sphere exists only to a very limited extent. So it is very difficult to discuss European issues and to channel popular pressure on EU-level. Furthermore the EU system lacks transparency and is dominated by technocrats based in Brussels.
This gives lobbyists from the big multinational corporations a disproportionate influence on legislation.
But the fundamental problem remains the locked undemocratic structure of the EU. On one hand, the Treaty fixes a comprehensive rightist political line. On the other hand, the EU Commission (which has the right of initiative within the EU) and the EU Court of Justice (the highest court in the entire EU) have to base their initiatives, proposals, decisions and judgments on the Treaty - they are the guardians of the Treaty.
And finally, the Treaty can only be changed if all 28 member-states agree on this at the same time.
In concrete terms this means that the EU and the entire EU apparatus is set to continue in the present direction as long as just one - in practice probably one important - country insists on it, even though a majority of the populations within the EU and a majority of the member states might wish something different. And the irony is that this basically anti-democratic structure can only be removed by unanimity.
The European Parliament (EP) is not a real parliament. The elected members only have very limited powers to control the rulers. MEPs cannot introduce their own independent bills, but are subject to the right of initiative of the Commission. And first of all, the EP is constrained by Treaty straitjackets, which it has no ability to change - this even includes the enforced monthly travelling circus between Brussels and Strasbourg.
But this does not mean that the work of the Parliament is irrelevant. Within the narrow limits imposed by the Treaty there is a certain margin to try to pull the conditions in one or another direction. And in certain areas the EP can stop bad bills from being adopted, such as the so-called "ports directive", that would have meant dramatically worsened working conditions for all dockworkers in the EU, or the “ACTA” agreement that would have limited freedom of expression and the right to privacy. Therefore, it does matter who is elected to the EP.
The parliamentary principle of the Red-Green Alliance to work for even the slightest improvement and against any deterioration is also true for the European Parliament. However, we don’t support transferring more powers to the EU - not even in cases that may sound positive - as more power to the EU will always help to strengthen the EU as an institution.
Even though the EU system is fundamentally undemocratic and cannot be changed according to normal parliamentary procedures, EU-happy Danish politicians often go further along the road of EU integration than EU membership necessitates.
Since the economic crisis hit in 2007/2008 a number of measures have been adopted in order to save the Euro from collapse. With the aim of legitimizing the use of the EU institutions in order to manage these measures, non-Euro countries have also been offered to join them. Here, EU-happy Danish politicians have entirely voluntarily - unlike in Sweden - chosen to let Denmark join a number of these measures. This is for instance the case with the EU Fiscal Compact that imposes very strict limits on the economic freedom of action in Denmark concerning the budgets of the state and the municipalities.
The same is the case in areas where Denmark for historical reasons has had opt-out clauses from the Treaty, primarily justice and internal affairs, in the military field and on the introduction of the Euro. Not the EU, but EU-happy Danish politicians have taken the lead to get these opt-out clauses removed.
That is why the struggle against this adaptation to the EU, spearheaded by EU-happy Danish parties, is at least just as important as the struggle against initiatives initiated by the EU.
The Euro is legal tender in 19 out of 28 EU member countries, and 7 more are obliged to join sooner or later. So the EU and the Euro zone stand at a crossroads: Either the EU/ Euro zone must be transformed to a proper federal state with a common economic government, or the EU/Euro zone in its present form will break down sooner or later.
Behind this dramatic choice is hidden the fact that the design of the Euro has been completely flawed, because it has neither taken into consideration the major differences between the various economies in the Euro zone, nor has it established a redistribution mechanism in order to ensure that the least productive Euro countries do not suffer from social impoverishment. A clear example is the collapse of the economy and the living conditions in Greece. The Euro has never been a rational economic project. It is a political project where the common currency has been used as a lever to transfer the power to determine economic policy from the European peoples to a centralized and increasingly more undemocratic EU.
The crossroads that the EU/Euro zone is facing might reopen the question of EU membership, not only in Denmark, but also in a number of other EU countries, like Great Britain and Sweden. Realistically seen, a Danish EU exit would probably happen in conjunction with a break-up of the EU that we know today, where other countries as well will refuse to become part of a regular federal state.
Before the Euro referendum in 2000 the Danish people was told time and again that a no-vote would lead to disaster. The people did say no - and the disaster did not materialize!
The same would be the case if Denmark leaves the EU and becomes one of the more than 160 other members of the United Nations who are not EU members. Among them are comparable European countries like Norway, Iceland, and Switzerland - as well as those other countries that might leave the EU together with Denmark.
An exit would first of all provide a much greater room for manoeuvre to implement more progressive red and green policies. At the same time an exit would give Denmark the opportunity to step up its activities in those numerous international cooperation organizations that are not based on the primacy of market forces, like the Council of Europe, the OSCE, the Nordic Council, the Arctic Council, and the UN. Trade with the countries that choose to remain in the EU can be regulated through trade agreements.
A Danish withdrawal from the EU would contribute to upheaval in the whole EU system and. weaken the EU as such. Our perspective, however, is a total dismantlement of the EU, and its replacement with an entirely different kind of cross-border cooperation based on solidarity and democratic solutions, respecting the sovereignty of the individual countries, as is the case in the above-mentioned organizations for international cooperation that easily can assume new tasks.
The RGA is a socialist party. We want fundamental societal changes where the interests of ordinary people and environmental considerations take precedence over free market interests. We are fully aware that this policy is contrary to the EU Treaty base. Thus we face the same choice as all other progressive forces in the EU: Either to postpone the necessary changes until unanimity can be reached within the EU - or to break with the EU. Confronted with this choice we are not in doubt. That is why we support a Danish exit from the EU.
But the EU will be an obstacle as well long before we begin talking about fundamental changes in society. For instance Denmark is unable to implement necessary and concrete improvements like an efficient ban on social dumping, a ban on substances hazardous to the environment and health or the abolishment of long and harmful animal transports without getting into conflict with the Treaty. For this reason the RGA is working in Denmark and together with other socialist and progressive forces in the rest of Europe to weaken, undermine and abolish the EU. A Danish exit might contribute to such a development. When the everyday interests of people are conflicting with the interests of the EU, we always choose to defend the interests of the people.
The RGA is a fundamental opponent of the EU and wants a Danish exit. For that reason the RGA is a collective member of the People's Movement against the EU.
On a purely democratic basis we can also work together with others who want to limit the powers of the EU.
This alliance policy is of particular importance because Danish EU politicians have openly stated that they want Denmark to join the "core" of the EU, and they do all they can to transfer more powers to the EU - even in areas where the Danish electorate has once or more times voted against it them by referendum.
But another alliance is important as well when it comes to the EU: an alliance with those who may be critical of the EU in a few or several areas, but who want to bring about better conditions for e.g. workers, the environment, or animal welfare by raising demands in the EU.
Although we do not share the illusion that it is possible to improve conditions significantly within the EU we share the desire to improve conditions. For that reason we are ready to fight together with everybody who honestly wants to improve conditions. Experience will show how much can be achieved within the EU framework.
On the other hand we call upon everybody who really desires improvements to adopt the same position as we have: If it comes to a choice between improvements (or, as in the case of Greece, to prevent the worst set-backs) and the EU, we will always stick to the first option.
It is an essential element of our strategy to promote international cooperation from below on the basis of concrete struggles against the consequences of the neoliberal policies and undemocratic character of the EU. The prerequisites for political achievements are massive extra-parliamentary mobilizations. As our common interests transcend borders, the cooperation between the workers', women's, environmental, and student movements has to do so as well. At the same time it is essential to develop and strengthen cooperation on the Left in Europe both in terns of concrete political struggles and not least when it comes to developing and formulating our visions for a better world.
Our opposition to the EU does not mean that we reject European cooperation - on the contrary! The RGA supports for instance the Council of Europe, and since the mid-nineties we have been represented in its Parliamentary Assembly where we cooperate with 47 European countries on the basis of the European Convention on Human Rights.
At the same time the RGA is an active partner in the European and Nordic cross-border cooperation of the left, e.g. in the European Left. We also contribute to grass roots cooperation on the European level, be it anti-racist networks, environmental movements or trade union cooperation. But this does not mean that we support any cooperation just because it is European.
We support the right to national self-determination - but we reject any kind of nationalism. For example, in our view the opposition to the abuse of foreign workers in Denmark based on social dumping should be directed against the employers - not against workers from other countries. Foreign workers are welcome, but must work under the same conditions as Danish workers.
The EU limits in several ways the possibility of national struggles against the social dumping, which the EU rules themselves contribute to. That is the reason why the RGA supports the demands of the ETUC for a Social Protocol to provide trade union and social rights in individual countries to take precedence over the rules of the free movement of capital and labour.
The RGA supports international minimum requirements - also in the EU - concerning the environment, climate, consumer protection, and animal welfare. However, we also insist on the right of all countries to impose stricter requirements than those stipulated in international agreements.
The RGA rejects the EU nationalism that is often disguised as internationalism, but which goes hand in hand with the construction of the EU state. This is e.g. the case with the foreign policy of the EU, where developing countries are forced to sign trade agreements that only benefit EU multinationals, or where agricultural subsidies make it possible for EU agro-capitalists to dominate local markets in developing countries, or where the EU fishing fleets empty African waters causing local poverty.
The major issues of today require a real international response. The economic crisis, the climate crisis, and the large influx of refugees are obvious examples.
The RGA is an internationalist socialist party. Therefore, our opposition to the EU is based on our socialist and international tenets. We are fighting for a different Europe and for a different world.
The world is bigger than the EU.