-Europe as a whole remains the second largest economic power in the world (17.9% of world GDP in 2020) behind the US (24.7%) and ahead of China (17.4%). In commercial power it is second only to the United States in imports and to China in exports. But it is in decline and immersed in an imperialist dispute that goes from crisis to crisis (world economy in 2008, public debt in 2010-2012, Covid-19 pandemic since 2020) reducing the influence of European imperialism in relation to US and Chinese imperialism. In 2008, the distribution of world GDP was: 30.19% EU (almost double of 2020), 23.71% USA and 7.1% China (half of 2020). If the US maintains its lead, it is clear that Europe will lose its second place to China. European capitalism is going through a deep crisis.
-The disputes between imperialists, and within the EU between the bourgeoisies that compose it, have very serious consequences for the working class of the Union´s different countries. To respond to the 2008 crisis, governments invested in bail out plans for private banks and public debts exploded since 2010. This is how the governments of Greece, Ireland, Spain, Portugal and Cyprus had to turn to the EU with its Stability Mechanism to finance their public debts, in exchange for the adoption of strict austerity and surveillance measures. The leaders of these countries, social democrats or broad popular-front parties, betrayed their working classes. For example, the Greek government, led by SYRIZA and Tsipras, carried out drastic austerity measures in 2015 (retirement age of 67, even retroactively; 10% reduction in civil servants’ pensions) and 2016 (additional reduction in pensions; increase and creation of new taxes, etc.). In the rest of the countries, compliance with the criteria required by the European Union (keeping the deficit and public debt rates below a certain level, 3% and 60% of GDP respectively), continued to be relentlessly applied to since 2010, plunging millions of workers into poverty and depriving them of rights acquired during decades of struggle.
-These attacks to maintain the capitalist rate of profit provoked the reaction of the working class. In France, against the 2017 Labor Law responsible for disrupting the guarantees acquired by the workers’ struggle and endorsed by the Labor Code, the massive demonstrations of workers are linked, while they are increasingly violently repressed by the police. In April 2018, the country was rocked by strikes of railway workers against the reform of the statute, heralding the application of the European directive that opens railway services to the private sector. As of November 2018, against the increase in fuel in particular, the demonstrations of the “Yellow Vests” took over the streets in large cities demanding the resignation of President Macron, but the movement finally ended up losing strength because it was not promoted by the trade union federations. In December 2019, the unions were forced to call a strike against the pension reform.
-The coronavirus was not the first or the only culprit of unleashing the crisis. Rather it was the growing disconnect between falling rates of return on investment and a steadily rising stock index. The declaration of the epidemic in early 2020 became an opportunity to make the corrections aborted or postponed in previous years. The coronavirus has acted as an accelerator of the new phase of the capitalist crisis that had been brewing since 2018, shaking global capitalism, including the European Union. To maintain capitalist rates of profit, budget orthodoxy was suddenly thrown out: the rule of a maximum budget deficit of 3% was abandoned for states to bail out companies. The deficit in 2020 for the Euro zone exceeded 7% and the public debt of the state is around 90.7% of European GDP. Except that it is the working classes of the different countries of the Union who will pay the debt of the states and companies.
-To rescue European capitalism, its banks and its national or multinational companies, the European Central Bank and states are equipping themselves with a common borrowing capacity, the 750 billion Euro Next Generation EU recovery plan. This plan will finance national programs in the form of grants and loans. To do so, states must submit a “national recovery and resilience plan” (NRRP) to the European Commission. These are austerity and reform programs, aimed at making the working classes pay for the states’ debt: hidden behind environmental and digital targets and plans to tax GAFA, they are actually structural reforms and austerity measures demanded by the EU in exchange for loans and subsidies. For France, it is “France Relance.”
The political parties and trade unions of the left have validated and supported this anti-worker policy: let us recall that in May 2020, in a column published in Le Monde, Hoffman, president of the DGB (Germany), Berger of the CFDT, Martinez of the CGT, Veyrier of FO, Chabanier of CFTC and Escure of UNSA (France) declared themselves satisfied with this plan “which must go beyond the announced 500 billion Euros” which must be accompanied “by a new and ambitious multiannual financial framework raised to at least 2% of European GDP.” Since then, job losses and layoffs have accelerated and multiplied. The number of unemployed in Europe has increased by more than 2 million, from 13.5 million in 2020 to 15.5 million in 2021. The unemployment rate in Spain and Greece exceeds 15%. At the same time, increases in the price of energy (electricity, diesel and gasoline) are exploding, as are food prices: the price of wheat has risen by 15% between June and August 2021. No wonder then that the class struggle is intensifying and strikes are on the rise since May 2020.
-The working class has been in the vanguard in fighting the coronavirus and has paid a very high price (in particular women, nurses in hospitals, cashiers in supermarkets, caretakers, etc.), it is clear that it is they who suffer or will suffer the effects of the coming economic crisis. The richest have already overcome the crisis; rather, they have become richer. According to the humanitarian organization Oxfam, the richest thousand recovered all their losses in only 9 months thanks to government support, while the poorest will take more than 10 years to recover.
COVID, as even IMF experts had brought to light, will fuel the class struggle and increase social confrontations: in addition to aggravating inequalities, national governments and European institutions are emerging completely discredited from the health crisis. Because of their lies, their negligence (shortage of masks, hydroalcohol gel, respirators), their policies of liquidation of public hospitals and public health systems, and the violent repression by their police, the European Union, national governments and traditional political parties are no longer an option for the working classes. The Pandora Papers case completes the picture of a two-tier Europe: the rich evade taxes while the poor pay.
-This declining economic imperialism is also being hit hard by multiple political crises that end up destabilizing the European Union. Within each country, the economic crisis fuels the political crisis and the rejection of political elites. In France, the last regional elections of June 2021 revealed a record abstention of over 65% on the night of the second round. This “general strike of votes” marks the beginning of a new stage of the political crisis and of the rotten regime of the Fifth Republic. It also points to a massive rejection of Macron’s policies; it should be remembered that the yellow vests demonstrations have been demanding his resignation for months. In this context of record abstention, the results of the other political parties are equally impressive: if Macron is shipwrecked, Marine Le Pen’s National Rally is in disarray, not to mention the parties that have led the Fifth Republic since its creation, the Socialist Party (PS) and the right-wing “heir” of De Gaulle (LR). Power is totally discredited while no political force seems capable of taking over the management of the affairs of the bourgeoisie. The picture is just as striking in Germany: Merkel emerges in a chaotic situation where the traditional parties of the right as well as of the left (CDU-CSU; SPD) have received their lowest electoral scores. The Franco-German axis that leads the EU is weakening.
The withdrawal of the United Kingdom or Brexit signals the failure of the political project of the European Union, both economically and politically. With no prospect of a political rupture on the basis of the working class, which no left party advocated, the Brexit of 2016 did not benefit the British working class. The English bourgeoisie chose a renewed alliance with U.S. imperialism putting an end to the dream of unification of the European market. Poland and Hungary provoke permanent rifts that have already led to raise the possibility of new fractures.
-From this point of view, the fiasco of French imperialism in the sale of submarines to Australia symbolizes the new alliance between the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia within the framework of Aukus. In the war against China, the US sees the European Union as a partner too loyal and committed to Beijing to leave military equipment in the China Sea that does not belong to it. Europe, which moves part of its production to China through its multinational corporations, is not a reliable partner for U.S. imperialism. The vulnerability of the European Union in the face of Putin and Erdogan’s provocations, particularly on energy and refugee issues are part of the geopolitical data in favor of an exhausted imperialism.
Complementarily, several situations are contributing to an implosion of the European Union: the Catalan self-determination process undermines the unity of the Spanish monarchy and its alliance with the bourgeoisie, with a “progressive coalition” government of PSOE-Unidas Podemos that rules for the rich and, based on the 78 regime, persecutes political leaders and represses activists. The governments of all the countries of Europe are reinforcing their legal arsenals and arming their police, preparing for the big uprisings to come.
-While exploited and enslaved illegal immigrant labor is at the same time a blessing for capitalism, European services, industries and companies, governments and the European Union compete in inventiveness in their show of force against the “migratory wave” that supposedly threaten their borders and their security. Refugees fleeing war, dictatorships or misery created by imperialists are turned back, mistreated, abused, locked up, abandoned. Since 2014, more than 20,000 people have died in the Mediterranean, as a result of shipwrecks in the open sea or not being able to dock; in 2021 this represented 3 deaths per day. In fact, several forces, the European agency Frontex for monitoring Europe’s borders, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European military operation EUNAVFOR Med (Sophia then Irini) are responsible for preventing illegal immigration. Far from bringing aid to ships in difficulty, their interventions increase the risks due to the changes in routes they cause, resulting in the lengthening of increasingly risky journeys.
-The crisis is growing internally between the countries directly affected by the arrival of refugees that have to deal with it and those who, far from the coasts, feel indifferent, in application of the Dublin agreements according to which asylum applications must be processed by the first country of entry to the EU. In order not to “invade” the European continent, the EU decided to create Greek “hotspots” on the islands of Lesbos, Chios, Samos, Kos and Leros or Italian hotspots on the island of Lampedusa, before accepting the distribution among the countries of the Union. But European imperialism has also decided to subcontract the control of its own borders to non-European countries such as Libya, Turkey, Morocco or Niger. In June 2021, Denmark took it even further by passing a law providing for the return of asylum seekers to a third country, without even admitting them on its territory in case of a favorable response, and this in exchange for payment from the third country. Faced with this influx of refugees, governments, their right and extreme right forces, are employing violence towards the men, women and children who, coming from Syria, Afghanistan or Africa, are seeking protection.
-The recent events revealed in October 2021 by Der Spiegel and Libération are shocking: violent “pushbacks” with batons in Greece, Romania and Croatia by police “special units”, probably financed with European funds, most of them concealing their identity by wearing uniforms without badges and ski masks covering their faces. If a consensus has united all European governments to denounce dictator Lukashenko’s instrumentalization of asylum seekers at the Polish border, the same consensus unites them in not wanting to open their borders. Some countries (Poland, Lithuania and 10 other countries, including Greece, Hungary and Austria) even want the European Commission to finance the construction of a wall on Europe’s external borders. Has Donald Trump been emulated in Europe?
There is no Plan B or third way of “humanized capitalism,” as the center-left reformists, social democracy and the communist parties, in classic or recycled form, would have the mass movement believe. Imperialist capitalism cannot be reformed to qualitatively improve the standard of living of the great popular majorities. In its present DNA there is only austerity, cutbacks, plunder, the reduction of social conquests, exploitation and oppression at the service of guaranteeing the capitalist profits of a handful of privileged. There are no half measures: either capitalism is defeated or the system will lead humanity towards barbarism. This is precisely what the reformists hide, raising false expectations in partial changes, allying themselves with the bourgeoisie, making promises they never keep, adapting to the bourgeois democratic regime and abandoning mobilization as the main tool of struggle. In the elections, they foster the false illusion of the “lesser evil” by scaring with the ghost of the ultra-right in order to win support. The choice of “lesser evil” or “fascism” is false, they use it mutually to polarize in their favor within the limits of capitalism. Reformism opens the way for the far right, it does not fight it consistently and much less in the streets, which is where it must be categorically defeated.
-It is necessary to arm ourselves with tactics toward the groups that have influence on the working people´s movement and general sympathy among the youth and the workers’ vanguard, always maintaining political and organizational independence. In the EU unity of action also arises on many occasions for mobilizations against attacks or advances of the far right. This indispensable necessity to confront the right and the far right cannot silence the criticism of reformism and a path of class independence. On some occasions the reformists received broad popular support, attracting world attention. But they adapt to the regime and remain on the margins of the system. Although these developments are widespread in America, they also occur in the EU. Die Linke in Germany, SYRIZA in Greece, the Left Bloc in Portugal and Podemos in Spain are examples of the insurmountable limitations of reformism. Podemos long ago abandoned mobilization and adapted to the institutional system of the monarchic-parliamentary regime of ’78, mainly from the so-called “town halls for change.” However, it took a qualitative leap backwards when it joined the bourgeois government of the PSOE, one of the pillars of the institutional system molded by Francoism. The reformists are followers of campism and tend to align themselves with China and its allies in the name of the “anti-imperialism” of the “progressive camp”. In the EU they condemned rebellions led by the masses in countries that appear to be rivals of the US or maintained a complicit silence in the face of brutal repressions such as those that took place in Belarus, Venezuela and Nicaragua. They also apply austerity measures and public budget cuts, while saving the banks and big business.
-The EU is the institutional framweork of the European imperialist bloc, as such, it is the guarantor of the exploitation and oppression of the European workers and peoples, extending its influence and plunder throughout the world. It is not progressive for the great majorities, neither socially nor democratically, although at world level it presents itself as a guarantor of democracy and human rights. That is why it is necessary to break with the EU through the path of mobilization and popular organization, in dispute with both the “Europeanists” and the “Euroskeptics” who, led by the local bourgeoisies, lead social processes to new disasters, as is happening with the development of Brexit by Great Britain. It is necessary to break with the EU on the road to the United Socialist States of Europe. To achieve our strategic objectives, it is indispensable to build revolutionary socialist and internationalist parties throughout Europe, and an international organization that unites them with other parties around the world in a single struggle for a socialist world, without employers and bureaucrats, where the workers rule with their own democratic bodies.
The First Congress of the International Socialist League resolves:
2- To support the demands of the workers against the austerity measures, budget cuts, layoffs, wage reductions, insufficient pensions, payment of public debts to the usurers, increases in gas and electricity, public services and rents. Support the demands against labor reforms and the loss of workers’ and social conquests. To promote the struggles against the consequences of “EU aid” and any attempt to make the working people pay for the crisis.
3- To conduct a systematic campaign against the anti-immigrant and anti-human rights “Fortress Europe.” Demand that migrants and refugees be allowed to enter Europe, with full democratic and social rights. The same with the rights of women and LGBTI groups, based on a program of anti-capitalist feminism.
4- To support the demands of the independent trade unions of Eastern Europe and the mass movement for the respect of democratic freedoms, the freedom of political prisoners, against the imprisonment and repression of working class and popular activists.
5- To reject the plunder that the European imperialist companies carry out in any region of the world. To condemn and call for a united mobilization against NATO interventions and wars, taking a stand on the side of the attacked, invaded and oppressed peoples.
6 – To participate in the unitary actions that are carried out in favor of the Saharawi people and to extend our own campaign for the self-determination of Western Sahara, against the Moroccan invasion with the complicity of Israel, Spain, the imperialist powers and the UN. Down with the wall of shame, freedom to the political prisoners and no more repression.
7- To support the struggles of the “yellow vests” and the French workers, condemning the repression of Macron and the French regime. To adopt a tactic toward the crisis of the political parties that claim to be of the working class, expressing a policy of unity in action against Macron and his anti-democratic, anti-worker, anti-youth and anti-immigrant policies, promoting the construction of the ISL.
8- To support the demands of the Catalan people for self-determination, demanding an end to the persecution of exiles and popular activists, the end of the regime of ’78 and the abolition of the monarchy.
9- One of the priority tasks of the ISL in the coming period is the strengthening of our European organizations and we intend to concentrate forces and deploy initiatives to expand to as many countries on the continent as possible.
10- To organize common continental campaigns of our organizations on issues that affect the sections of the different countries equally. 11- To establish a frequency for meetings with the ISL leadership in order to maintain a work agenda.