What´s the Use of the UE?

By Rubén Tzanoff, SOL Spanish State

This question is posed by social inequality in “normal times” and by the consequences of Covid-19.

The Eurogroup reached an agreement to release € 500 billion. € 25 billion from the EIB (European Investment Bank) will be allocated in guarantees that will serve to mobilize up to € 200 billion and subsidies from the European Commission to the ERTE (Temporary Employment Regulation Files). The Community Executive will be financed with guarantees from the states to mobilize € 100 billion destined to avoid the definitive loss of jobs.

Finally, there will be no conditions attached to the granting of a loan by the ESM (European Stability Mechanism), which was one of the main points of debate. The only requirement will be “to use this line of credit to internally finance costs related directly or indirectly to medical care, cure and prevention due to the Covid-19 crisis.” In addition, they laid the foundations for an economic recovery fund to inject money into the economy that is falling into recession.

Until a few days ago, Germany-Holland and France-Spain were at odds, but they reached an agreement thanks to the ambiguity of the formulation. The text allowed the Netherlands to affirm that “it can also be used for financial support, but with conditions”, and Spain to say that it is a good agreement because “it has a triple safety net for workers, companies and states.” In addition, they have left the most controversial decisions about financing and conditions of access to the fund that they approved “for later”. In other words, deciding whether there will be Eurobonds, called “coronabonos” – in “European Marshall Plan” fashion, as Pedro Sánchez has unsuccessfully claimed – or whether there will be credits with harsh conditions for countries that have large debts such as Spain and Italy or others that go into crisis. This difference is what has brought the EU to extreme tension, including warnings from those involved about the future of the Community. However, the fundamental thing is that, beyond their differences, they agree to allocate millions of Euros to guarantee capitalist profits.

The “austerity” plans designed in Brussels caused the cuts in public health and privatizations that endanger the lives of millions of people today.

The measures include palliatives that are presented by the PSOE-Podemos government as great concessions to the those most in need. They try to hide that the aid that reaches people´s homes with draconian “small print” at the bottom, represents cumbs compared to the fortunes that go into the pockets of a handful of rich and privileged capitalists. The cynicism of Pedro Sánchez and Pablo Iglesias grows proportionally to the magnitude of the crisis.

Do you remember how the EU has acted in other critical situations? When Greece went bankrupt, the recipe of the troika (European Central Bank, European Commission and International Monetary Fund) was to apply austerity measures and grant usurious loans that conditioned the present and future of the Greek people. When the crisis of the world capitalist economy reached Europe, it left a mass of people without jobs, without homes and in terrible work conditions due to labor reforms. Where did the millions of Euros contributed by the EU go? To the coffers of banks, companies and the wealthy, the same ones that caused the crisis.

In 2017, when the Catalan people exercised their right to self-determination by voting in the 1-O Referendum, the EU sided with the parliamentary monarchical regime, its king and its institutions inherited from Francoism. Nor did they respond to the social demands made in France by the “yellow vests”, but instead sided with Macron’s repression. At the end of 2018 and during 2019, thousands of immigrants tried to reach Europe, escaping hunger, wars and other disasters. The EU left many to die in the Mediterranean, others they detained in neighboring countries or within their own borders. To those who manage to pass, the EU returns them “in the heat of the moment”, does not grant them rights and punishes the NGOs that help immigrants. In the face of the humanitarian disaster involving thousands of refugees on the Turkish-Greek border, they financed the Turkish government to prevent migration, and when this failed, they did the same with the Greek government to shield the Hellenic borders as “Europe´s shield.” Faced with the current unprecedented health and economic crisis, the EU has been unable to respond quickly with a joint plan and has left each country to its own devices. The “austerity” plans designed in Brussels caused the cuts in public health and privatizations that endanger the lives of millions of people today.

…the capitalist system cannot be humanized … The system we need is socialism with democracy…

Is it not necessary to reflect on the purpose of the EU? Far from the lies that embellish the Union as the repository of human rights, social conquests and “advanced democracies,” it is an imperialist bloc at the service of guaranteeing capitalist profits, the free movement of financial capital, the exploitation of workers and the oppression of peoples. It is a conglomerate of institutions that encourages gutting the human, social and democratic rights obtained through years of struggles. The “Europeanists” and “Euroskeptics” only have tactical differences that revolve around deciding who offers the best scheme to manage capitalist business and strengthen bourgeois-democratic regimes. We have nothing to do with them.

Given the consequences of Covid-19, there is uncertainty about the future. What is certain is that a return to “normality” will be a return to a world of rising social inequality and more austerity. Far from the appeal by employers and UGT and CC.OO. leaders to “try harder,” we will have to fight. Organization, mobilization and strikes are the only way to prevent the effects of the crisis from falling once more on the backs of working people. Faced with the double economy-Covid-19 crisis, bourgeois governments have taken ineffective, late, insufficient and authoritarian measures. On the contrary, the transitional program that revolutionary socialists advocate has once again demonstrated both its correctness and its validity. From the left we have to present a strong and broad anti-capitalist alternative, because the system cannot be humanized, as Unidas Podemos and other reformists want us to believe. It is necessary to break with the EU with an independent agenda with proposals favorable to the vast majority, so that the bourgeoisie does not lead, like with Brexit.

What is the solution to recurring crises? We are convinced that it resides in different model of society. A system without exploiters and exploited, in which life and solidarity are above all. With a democratically planned economy to satisfy the population’s work, health care, housing, education and public health needs. And with full democratic freedoms of expression and organization, without privileged and oppressive bureaucrats like the Stalinists who once dominated in Eastern Europe, nor those who today lead the exploitative and authoritarian project in China. The system we need is socialism with democracy, which is raised by those of us who make up the International Socialist League.