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The European Union

category international | miscellaneous | policy statement author Friday February 12, 2010 22:01author by European Anarkismo Conference - Anarkismo Report this post to the editors
We must remove the economical, political and civil obstacles that are limiting our freedom and equality in our daily lives, and call into question their concept of participation in the organization of society. For us, direct participation is only possible on the basis of mutual aid and solidarity. [Français] [Italiano] [Português] [ελληνικά] [Polski] [Nederlands] [Čeština]

The European Union

The Treaty of Lisbon came into effect one year ago, with the global economic crisis at its height. This Treaty gives the European Commission "absolute power" to issue directives guaranteeing "competitive European businesses access to the world's markets and operational security within them". Furthermore, the Court of Justice guarantees only one freedom, the freedom of the market and the defence of free competition as a condition to casualize the workforce, society and the environment of the 27 Member States. The new Treaty brings the prospect of the deregulation of the entire production system and servies in the fullest sense, enabling practical application of the Bolkestein Directive which open the "door to the complete privatization of healthcare, edication, water and pensions".

This strategy takes no account of the devastation caused by the current global economic crisis, and sweeps away public services (healthcare, transport, education, water, housing) both on a symbolic level and on a real level. It introduces the market as an instrument for concession ("services of general interest") and for satisfaction (someone who saves can gain access to private healthcare, integrated pensions, etc.). This is the Europe that, from 1st January 2009, forbids tax policies for redistributing wealth, public spending, social safeguards and benefits, while allowing tax havens to be created.

Naturally, the first victims of these policies of dismantlement are women, who so often find that they have to struggle alone in their daily task of providing care (to children, parents, family members). This is particularly felt in certain countries where, without any social assistance women are even having to give up jobs for this.

In this situation, the labour market and related policies can only be governed by the golden rules of neo-liberal capitalism: free deregulation (flexibility) and total, widespread casualization of the workforce (with the removal of social and labour rights).

In a Europe that is growing together with the global crisis, this means only two things: the use of social dumping and the rejection of the right to strike for those who ask for equal working conditions in de-located and re-located companies, all in the name of social competition and the market economy.

Ever since the 2007 agreement on flexicurity, flexibility for companies to manage the workforce already means in effect total freedom of labour organization, which at the same time supposedly has the apparent aim of guaranteeing security for workers, with all the necessary adaptability that is asked of them from constantly changing jobs and during periods of continual training.

Thus, in a jobs market devastated by the crisis, we see a relaunching of the watchword competitivity, which in turn brings about not only social dumping and therefore the privatization of services that are essential to the population, but also an effort to reduce labour costs through instruments linked to policies that increase flexibility, workforce mobility and the capacity to adapt.

Germany, France and Italy - countries once held to be "strong" in the field of social security and "tough" in the field of labour rights - have reshaped the internal labour market, reaching the level of Spain, Ireland and the United Kingdom in areas such as unemployment benefit, fewer protections against dismissal, increasing retirement age, flexible contracts, weakening social safety nets, etc.

EU immigration policies are also affected to the logic of the market and to double standards: on the one hand there is a need for labour from non-EU citizens due to the aging of the European working class (this manpower is necessary and sufficient to ensure the type of casual work required by competition); and secondly, there are policies that deny the right of citizenship, that feed racism accusing migrants of clandestinity, that use repression and control in order to give support to unequal, aggressive and exploitational relations between the North and South, especially in the Europe-influenced Mediterranean area.

For European and immigrant workers, flexibility thus in effect means availability to work on the basis of the needs of production. For companies in a time of crisis, when millions of jobs are being cut, nothing could be better than this. The labour market thus becomes a mere mechanism, which nonetheless acts and moves, is governed by rules (laws, executive orders, ad hoc legal decisions, directives, etc.) and by institutions, in order to avoid dealing with any form of social conflict.

And by following this fragmentary social and economic model, the social and labour struggles have been broken up into a thousand pieces, thus losing all their effectiveness. We need to see a recomposition of the rights and immediate interests of workers and citizens in a new unitary and industrial conception and organization of all paid work.

We must oppose the logic of the segmentation and flexibility of global capitalism's social and productive models and resolutely fight for the rights of all men and women, for labour rights, social rights and civil rights.

We must remove the economical, political and civil obstacles that are limiting our freedom and equality in our daily lives, and call into question their concept of participation in the organization of society. For us, direct participation is only possible on the basis of mutual aid and solidarity.

We must oppose their concepts of competition and competitivity with the polar opposites: our concepts and our practice of solidarity.

All coherently alternative labour, social and political forces need to support the rights and interests of the workers, in a society organized on the basis of solidarity and not competition, on the basis of respect, freedom and equality and not on the basis of authoritarianism, of individualism and of the absence of democracy. There is really only one answer, the only possible response on the basis of these values and these choices:

  • for a Europe of European and migrant peoples and workers
  • to defend our interests in employment matters, income, social gains and solidarity
  • to build popular power and democracy from below
  • to defend and create collective grassroots, self-managed spaces within the community and in the workplace in order to give firm roots to the anti-capitalist struggle
  • to build the libertarian alternative to the barbarism of the crisis caused by capitalism and by States.

Alternative Liberataire (France)
Counter Power (Norway)
Federazione dei Comunisti Anarchici (Italy)
Liberty & Solidarity (Great Britain)
Organisation Socialiste Libertaire (Switzerland)
Workers Solidarity Movement (Ireland)

Paris, 7 February 2010

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