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Democrat Editorial September-October 1998 (Number 32)

Grasp the opportunity now

By Brian Denny

THIS conference season possibly represents the best chance in a long time to push for a proper, balanced debate on the effects of the drive for Euro-federalism and economic and monetary union.

Increasingly it is becoming clearer that EMU and its convergence criteria, forcing continuing cutbacks, deflation and privatisations, is hitting hard as manufacturing industries stagnate and the public sector reels from one funding crisis to another. This deflationary criteria, known as the stability pact, dreamed up by Brussels, is forcing EU member states to impose huge cuts in public spending and are behind Chancellor Gordon Brown's tight fiscal monetary policies.

Such policies will only serve to continue the spiral of mass unemployment, poverty and the politics of the far right and racists who feed off growing despair up and down the country. In short, Britain is suffering from the same policies as the previous Eurofanatic Tory government with devastating effect, the European Commission wants us to suffer more of the same medicine. Yet there are signs that people are prepared to reject this neoliberal headlong drive towards the creation of the euro whatever the social cost to satisfy a tiny minority of big businessmen and bankers.

At the TUC the Community and Youth Workers Union, have put forward a motion* in order to raise the level of debate and reflect the concerns of millions of ordinary people who see EMU as undemocratic and dangerous. The motion deserves support as it proposes a proper debate within the trade union movement, something that has been blocked by Eurofanatics since 1988 when Jaques Delors promised the TUC conference jobs, growth and prosperity if it would only drop opposition to Brussels.

It has been ten, long years since that particular debacle and what has happened? Delors promises of euro-jam tomorrow has evaporated as quickly as this country's publicly-owned industries and it's peoples right to control their own futures. We have seen the devastating efforts of being in the Exchange Rate Mechanism- the forerunner of EMU - and ever tighter monetary policies imposed to suit the interests of the European Central Banks rather than people's needs.

Despite this stark evidence the TUC general council amazingly continue to promote monetary union as being in the interests of working people. The National Union of Mineworkers amendment to the CYWU motion calls for Britain to withdraw from the European Union. Some people dismiss this as impractical but it would be more sensible and desirable to demand democracy on the level of the nation state, which has a popular mandate, rather than within the EU which has no support from ordinary people who suffer the consequences of it's very existence.

Getting these fundamental issues raised within an increasingly autocratic Labour Party is more problematic. However, the Labour Euro-Safeguards Committee annual fringe meeting (see opposite for details) should attract a growing audience from within a labour movement which is becoming increasingly concerned at the direction of the Labour Party's eurofanatic leadership.

The global financial crisis is raising question marks over the economic orthodoxy of Brussels which mirrors that of the IMF/World Bank, big business interests and other oligarchs and putting the fight for all aspects of democracy and the national question firmly on the agenda.

* Since this editorial was published the 1998 TUC Congress agreed a composite resolution to debate EMU.
CAEF published a pamphlet - EURO Fallout - some copies are still available for £1.36 each order form.