According to the government Mayday is going to be Bertie's big day out as EU president. This is the day - traditionally workers' day - when the EU will officially expand. The government is planning on 'celebrations' for the population, while the 25 heads of state will be wined and dined in Farmleigh house. We intend May 1st to be the highlight of a full bank holiday weekend of opposition to some of the things we think are wrong with the EU: neo-liberalism, militarism and Fortress Europe.
Neo-Liberalism: In 2000 the leaders of the EU came up with a plan called the Lisbon Agenda. Essentially this targets education, healthcare and services like gas, electricity, the postal services and transport for privatisation. Before the government can privatise public services it has to make them attractive to potential investors. In Ireland the FF/PD coalition is doing this by introducing bin taxes, stealth fees for third level education and by attempting to sell off the most lucrative routes operated by Dublin Bus. Privatisation means reducing costs by lowering wages, cutting staff and increasing the cost to the consumer while delivering worse services.
Militarism: Just as the business policies of the European Union are based on looking after the fat cats, so too is its foreign policy. As the European Union develops into a more cohesive economic unit it needs to be able to 'defend' its interests. The development of the Common Foreign and Security Policy and the Rapid Reaction Force allows for this to proceed and together they form the basis of a European Army.
Fortress Europe: While the leaders of these accession states might be welcome in the EU (along with their farms and sweat-shops), most of the current EU countries will remain closed to the people of the accession states for the next 6 years. In advance of joining the EU these countries have had to open their borders to the flow of money, and to close their borders to anyone outside the new Europe. The EU's repressive anti-immigrant policies claimed the lives of at least 3,000 people between 1993 and June 2003, people drowned in the Mediterranean, were electrocuted at the Channel Tunnel and suffocated in Wexford. This is 10 times as many as were killed at the Berlin Wall during its 30-year history.
The Irish government currently holds the presidency of the EU and its behaviour typifies what's wrong with the EU: the attempt to implement the bin charges continues and the ministerial meetings that have taken place so far have been surrounded by expensive police operations. To cap it all off, the first 'achievement' of the Irish presidency was the establishment of a 'repatriation fund,' to allow the wealthy countries to share the costs of deporting people.
We aim to show them that their plans won't succeed, that they can't just impose their agenda on us and decide our fate without our opposition. We'll be out in the streets on May 1st. We hope to see you there.
Quebec 1, Global Elite 0
When the summit circus came to Quebec and lost. The Summit of the Americas, a meeting of 34 head of state to advance the agenda of neo-liberal capitalism, was held in Québec in 2001.
This edition is No80 published in March 2004