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How EU business rights override the human rights of working people

The sovereignty of European states is being fatally undermined by the project for a superstate, writes BRIAN DENNY

European Union summits like the one last month used to be big news with heads of state wrangling over treaties and other policy issues.

No more. Summits are played down in the media and now only take place in Brussels where the main policy areas and plans for EU centralisation are discussed largely in secret behind carefully choreographed pretend political rows and diplomatic “fallouts.”

Two years ago British PM David Cameron famously walked out claiming to veto an EU treaty to set up a fiscal government for the eurozone. 

The media fell for it of course, but a veto can only apply to the final text of an EU treaty. No such treaty exists. 

In fact the Tory leader did precisely what German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Nicolas Sarkozy wanted all along — allow an intergovernmental agreement that imposed permanent austerity on every country in the eurozone by prohibiting them from running up a budget deficit ever again.

This time the fake “eurosceptic” Tories launched proposals to cut EU red tape, ignoring other issues and particularly proposals for an EU banking union.

This operation serves two purposes. First it diverts attention from financial proposals which will serve the most powerful EU states and monopoly capital. And second it  flies a kite for the EU to finally bury the policy pantomime known as “social Europe.” 

EU supporters in the labour movement have long argued that in return for support for the “European project” including membership of the eurozone, workers will receive full employment, better workers’ rights and protection from free market policies.

Yet workers have not received any of the above. Inside the eurozone things are even worse, with unemployment reaching 12 per cent and youth unemployment reaching a staggering 60 per cent in some countries.

Moreover the EU court has consistently used EU treaties to rule against trade union rights in favour of business rights to make money. 

Judgements in the Viking, Laval, Ruffert and Luxemburg European Court of Justice cases take us back over 100 years to the Taff Vale judgement when any trade union activity was perceived by the bosses to be “in restraint of trade.” 

The court recently ruled that contracts of Parkwood Leisure employees which stated that their wages should rise “from time to time” according to collective bargaining agreements, should not be protected.

Trade union rights lawyer John Hendy QC warns that the EU has launched a major attack on the concept of collective bargaining.

“Under EU treaties and EU court judgements, big business rights to make money override the human rights of working people to defend themselves,” he said.

He said that EU structures were undermining workers’ rights particularly in member states in the eurozone suffering permanent austerity as part of “bailout” agreements such as Ireland, Portugal and Greece.

He described the moves as a “gamechanger” as the myth of social Europe was being dropped completely in favour of the EU’s “fundamental four freedoms” — the free movement of capital, goods, services and labour.

These “four freedoms” are, of course, the freedom of monopoly capital to rig the markets in their favour free from troublesome elected governments, hence the importance of the banking union.

Under these plans the European Central Bank (ECB) in Frankfurt, which controls monetary policy in the euro, will in future also supervise big private banks.

From next year ECB will control over 130 banks in the 18 eurozone states and wipe out any risky businesses and non-performing loans as the ECB does not want to inherit financial risks.

“It is an important step towards creating a legal framework that will allow the ECB to press ahead with setting up operations for banking regulation,” said German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble.

If you want to see what ECB solutions to financial insolvency looks like, study the strict conditions imposed on bailout countries such as Greece, Cyprus and other states. 

These include mass privatisation, abolition of trade union rights, pay cuts, vicious government spending cuts and massive structural adjustment in favour of monopoly capital.

As the left-wing Cypriot party AKEL pointed out after the summit, the people of Cyprus are paying a very heavy price for the “solidarity” of its so-called friends

“The policies of the single economic governance on an EU level are destroying the sovereignty of the peoples and states for the sake of the interests of big capital,” he said.

Brian Denny is spokesman for No2EU.com

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