This is why the European summits, which bring together the heads of all the EU member states, are accompanied by massive demonstrations against the Europe of the Bosses. Meeting behind closed doors, a tiny number of those who rule Europe are making decisions that will effect the lives of every one of the hundreds of millions of people living in the European Union as well as the countries to the east and North Africa.
The workers of Europe have no say in these decisions whatsoever. The Nice referendum demonstrated that in the exceptional circumstances where citizens of a European country get to vote on an aspect of the process they are only allowed give one answer. Ireland was the only country in Europe where the citizens got to vote on the Nice treaty and when they voted it down the government simply held another referendum and told them to vote yes.
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The EU is one of the motors of capitalist globalisation, the rule that all decisions should be made on the basis of profitability alone. The World Trade Organisation is trying to impose this on the global level through the Global Agreement in Trades and Services. This covers 160 services' sectors including healthcare, education, housing, water, waste management and other basic services. The EU web page proclaims "the EU therefore leads in the drive to liberalise trade in services world wide and remove barriers to a truly global market".
Decoded, what this means is that the EU wants to turn water supply, education, health and refuse collection from being social services provided to all to profit making enterprises provided to those who can pay. This is the agenda behind the introduction of local service charges like the bin charge and the water charge. If the charge is successfully introduced the service will be sold off and the cost will soar to hundreds of Euros per year. If this is done successfully in relation to refuse charges next on the privatisation agenda will be aspects of the education and health services.
The nastiest side of the EU is on the question of migration. Here EU policy has resulted in thousands of deaths in the last decade. The European bosses want to use North Africa and the other countries on the fringes of Europe as a highly exploitative, low wage sweatshop where workers have no union rights and environmental legislation is minimal. There are two parts to this policy.
Firstly EU rules are adjusted to encourage low wage industries to re-locate from Europe to these regions. In Ireland Fruit of the Loom has moved thousands of jobs from the north west to new plants in Morocco where workers are paid one seventh of what the (low paid) Irish workers were paid.
We would hope that these jobs would enable Moroccan workers to organise and improve their wages and conditions. But there is no freedom to organise in Morocco. It is infamous for jailing political prisoners in an underground jail in the desert. One of the services this regime provides for the European bosses is the suppression of trade unions. An International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) report notes that "21 Moroccan trade unionists were imprisoned in 1999 for trade union activities, and that they were tortured during their detention."
The logical thing for Moroccan workers to do is to flee these areas of low wages and oppression for the better conditions of the European Union. But while the EU is all about opening the borders to flows of capital it is also all about closing the borders of Europe to flows of people.
Thousands have died trying to cross the borders that surround Europe. They have drowned in the Mediterranean and suffocated in the backs of containers. Dozens have died in suspicious circumstances at the hands of immigration police. Tens of thousands more sit in prison camps across Europe, waiting to be deported. At the same time large sectors of the European economy, particularly in agriculture, cleaning and fast food are dependent on the low wage workforce the migrants who manage to cross the border provide.