Since its first introduction, as a parliamentary group more than 15 years ago, the left parliamentary group in the German Bundestag „DIE LINKE“, has been struggling against the neoliberal policy of the liberalization and deregulation in the European Union.Redebeitrag am 12. Januar 2007 bei der Beratung der Europäischen Linkspartei
Since its first introduction, as a parliamentary group more than 15 years ago, the left parliamentary group in the German Bundestag „DIE LINKE“, has been struggling against the neoliberal policy of the liberalization and deregulation in the European Union.
The left parliamentary group in the German Bundestag is fighting for a peaceful, social, ecological and democratic Europe. Because of decades of neoliberal policy, particularly implemented also by the various German governments, the societal and social cohesion is threatened throughout the entire European Union.
Europe can only develop positively, if we do not permit a core Europe to be formed from the hegemonic states which leave the new member states behind and economically stifle the smaller member states.
This is why we fully understand the fears of our allied parties e.g. from Austria or the , when they refer to an all dominating European Union, led by the large hegemonic states, that impede and obstruct movements for emancipation and counter-balancing initiatives inside these countries.
I would like to inform you of Oskar and Gregor’s “memorandum.” Oskar Lafontaine will introduce it to you. Gregor has just embarked on a trip to Ecuador to get a feeling for the young, modern and upstanding Latin America that is left.
The left parliamentary group in the German Bundestag sees its task therefore also in working for the interests of the smaller member states and preventing, for example
* the completion of the domestic market for electricity and gas by July 2007,
* the complete liberalization of postal services by 2009,
* the forced liberalization of health services, the arms market and financial services,
* a forced so-called “bureaucracy dismantling” (better regularization and/or legal adjustment), which subordinates social and environmental political objectives to economic and competitive demands and that neglects interests of the citizens
* and an aggressive reorientation of the European trade and external economic policies.
Through all these measures, the smaller member states' possibilities for an independent development of their public existential security would be destroyed by large private corporations obtaining a monopoly.
Therefore we are also going to submit a motion to the German Bundestag against the commission's plans, and those of the German Presidency, to completely open the European postal markets by 2009, at the latest.
We are demanding an immediate halt to the privatizations of the public existential security. The left parliamentary group in the German Bundestag would like to prevent the German Federal Government from becoming a Europe-wide promoter of the “Deutsche Post AG” (German mail corporation), which, in the meantime, acts as “global Player” among postal services.
We want to help that those public interests in member countries, such as France, Belgium and the Mediterranean area, are respected who, for good reasons, want to maintain their public postal services.
With the results of scientific research, we would like to elucidate the economic and social consequences of monopolization tendencies inside the EU. Last September, I presented the study “The power of Corporations in the European Union” by Prof. Dr. Gretchen Binus, which provides a basis for the analysis of the EU’s economic policy. My office would be happy to furnish a copy of this study, in German, I beg pardon, upon demand.
The Left Parliamentary Group (the former “PDS”) in the German Bundestag has been fighting for many years against the increasing neo-liberalization of the European Union. Therefore we also rejected the treaties of Maastricht, Amsterdam and now the despicable neoliberal governments' draft treaty for a European Constitution. We oppose the attempts of the governments of the European Union to create a Europe of the corporations, while further ignoring the rights and interests of the employees.
The European Union is increasingly becoming a self-service shop for the European corporations.
From the beginning, social and ecological objectives have played a subordinate role in this Europe. Since the single European Act in 1985 and reinforced since the Maastricht Treaty in 1992, the EU has been pursuing the fatal neo-liberal market rigorism, which leads to mass unemployment, shrinking growth rates and to social dismantlement.
The democratic functions of the European parliament and its rights and powers are insufficient. Therefore many citizens feel a growing alienation to the European Union. Because of this a justifiable distrust and even rejection is developing toward the European Union.
The left parliamentary group in the German Bundestag would like to see the European Union advance to become a social, ecological and democratic community.
The draft Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe, of October 29, 2004, submitted by the governments, represents stagnation and consolidates erroneous trends. It will not fulfil the EU citizens' aspirations for a peaceful, democratic und social Europe.
It suffers from three evils. First of all, the deficit of democracy and citizens' participation, within the union, has not been eliminated, but rather updated. Secondly it obligates the EU economic and monetary policy to adhere to the neoliberal “principle of an open market economy with free competition” (article III-177, 178 and 185), which promotes a deterioration of the social standing and prohibits a social union throughout the EU. Thirdly he raises militarization and arms obligation to constitutional rank. The contract was defeated by the votes rejecting it in France and the Netherlands.
But the left parliamentary group in the German Bundestag does not simply say “No” to the present Draft Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe. In our motion to the German Bundestag we presented our conception of a progressive constitution for the European Union.
With our motion we make it clear that we will not let the good traditions of the Federal German Constitution (GRUNDGESETZ) simply be thrown overboard, such as outlawing war, or Article 14 (social obligation of ownership) and Article 15 (option of socialisation of property and means of production). We want a European Constitution that - like the Federal German Constitution - does not exclude a social alternative and does not rule out a socialist alternative. Our highest German court (BVG) rendered a decision on June 4, 1954 - still valid today - that Article 15 of our “Grundgesetz” permits a completely different economic system to capitalism as a possible option.
Therefore Europe should not be hostile to the progress taking place in Venezuela and Bolivia. We want to hold the law full option open - even in a new European constitution
When we speak of our “elements for an alternative constitution,” we should bear in mind an ultimate objective for the EU in its finality. Is it a supra-state, a state, or an integrated network of cooperating states (Staatenbund) that we want? In any case, in Germany, we don’t want a supra-state, but rather a formation below that level.
We demand of the German presidency that it engage itself for establishing a purely civilian character of the common foreign and security policies of the Union.
Since the Maastricht Treaty and, even stronger, since the Treaty of Amsterdam, the EU has taken the fatal path of an enhanced militarization. It has developed into a military power, that can carry out military intervention anywhere in the world - with and without the agreement of the UN Security Council - to protect so called „European interests “.
This objective is served by the European Security Strategy 2003, which plans combat missions without territorial limitation for „crisis management“ and makes possible the participation in wars in violation of international law, as well as the forced build-up of „Battle groups “, heavily armed mobile European combat units.
Of course there is a difference between “Europeanisation of the military” and the “militarisation of Europe”!
Europe must finally be developed further to become an international participant, that places the main focus not on imperial interests, but on the interests of Europe and also of peoples in the less developed countries.
This is also why we are sceptical about the current EU initiatives for a new neighbourhood policy. EU neighbour states are not developing to become equal partners, with the possibility of having an influence in the course of the discussion. This neighbourhood policy reflects a form of the EU's unilateral dictate of political and social organization of these states.
The neighbourhood policy conception is clearly formulated as part of the „European Security Strategy (ESS)“: In a commission declaration from June 2004, the European Commission suggested that the countries of the southern Caucasus be also included into the European neighbourhood policy. In connection with the bordering neighbouring states, the presidency program of the German government states: “The presidency will direct special attention to the strategically important central Asian region.” This shows clearly that this new “Ostpolitik” focuses not only on territorial proximity, but above all on energy interests.
This reminds us to the forms of influence taken by the old imperialist trade of major hegemonic states, which were described very much in detail by the classical left, Marxist theoreticians.
In the European neighbourhood policy conception, DIE LINKE sees the danger of patronizing and subordination of other countries, forced to adapt themselves, but not having the right to decide. The coupling of energy supply interests in the South Caucasus and Central Asian realm, also like the US predominance in the Near East, creates the danger of establishing conflict situations with other powers. DIE LINKE rejects a policy built around hegemonic creation of spheres of influence and a ring of vassal states. Instead DIE LINKE stands for equality in partnership, which makes it possible for other countries to cooperate and enter into equitable negotiations with the EU.
This significant shift of emphasis in the EU external trade policies also becomes clear when looking at the policy toward Latin America. Because of the Commission’s erroneous policy, forces critical of such a strategic partnership with Europe are becoming more numerous in Latin America. They also consider that the free trade zone project serves more the interests of giant EU enterprises than the interests of the people in Latin American countries.
The European Union is still the most significant business partner of the Mercosur, as well as second largest trade partner and investor in Latin America. But since the first EU, and Latin America, including the Caribbean, summit in 1999, the economic, social and political conditions have fundamentally changed in several Latin-American countries.
But despite - or because of - these clear political developments in Latin America, the EU continues its neo-liberal and imperial trade and foreign policy toward that continent. This is also clearly demonstrated in the Commission’s report to the European Parliament and the European Council (December 8, 2005) and even more so, in the draft for a resolution of the European Parliament (January 18, 2006).
The left parliamentary group in the German Bundestag is demanding that the European Commission and the governments of the EU member states respect and support the current political and economic reorganization process in Latin America. Such a process should not be thwarted through a neo-liberal structural contract, unilaterally dictated by the EU to the Mercosur countries. This is why these regulations in the trade agreement project must be abdicated. The current and future autonomous decisions made in Latin America, regarding its own integration process, are to be awaited and accepted.
We demand that the German government take the initiative to replace the Lisbon strategy that is oriented toward competition with a policy oriented toward employment, sustainability and solidarity.
The Lisbon strategy that was announced in the spring of 2000, was aimed at transforming the European Union within a decade to become “the most competitive and dynamic, knowledge-based economy in the world, capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion.”
This strategic goal was a complete failure.
* Instead of the prospected average annual economic growth of 3%, within the first 5 years, only 1,7% was reached. The gap between the EU and the USA did not diminish, but grew. Surpassing the USA is out of the question
* The investments for research and development were supposed to increase to 3% of the gross domestic product. However they remained at only 2%.
* Likewise, the goal of reducing unemployment and increasing the overall employment quota, particularly the quota for the employment of women was not reached.
The failure of the Lisbon strategy was not only due to the high expectations of the presiding governments in the heyday of the New Economy and in view of the worldwide boom on the finance markets.
The main causes lie in the EU's basic economic and financial orientation on a systems policy of market radicalism and a reduction of state economic and financial policy to guaranteeing price stability and to a restrictive budgetary policy.
The left should fight in the interests of the employed and the unemployed, but also for the small and medium-sized entrepreneurs. Since I am also the president of their organisation, the OWUS in Germany, I propose a “conference on small and medium-sized businesses” at the beginning of the 2008/2009 European election campaign.
Obviously, the German Government is not willing to thoroughly re-examine the failed neo liberal-economic policy on a national and European scale.
The arrangement of the domestic market must be accompanied by obligatory specifications of social and ecological standards and an adjustment of the taxation.
We demand an initiative from the German government that submits the ECB to democratic controls.
Financial policy and price stability must be orientated, with equal weight, toward the objectives of a high employment level, a balance of foreign trade, as well as a steady and adequate economic growth.
The German presidency must confront these tasks in the coming months.
In the German Bundestag, we will present motions and try to initiate extra-parliamentary initiatives to push things in the right direction.
Together with you, we, as a parliamentary group in the German Bundestag, want to do our part so that our common demands, the demands of the LEFT, can succeed in Europe. We, here in Germany, will use the German presidency to promote a left alternative of European integration and win more popular acceptance.
As far as Britain, France, and The Netherlands are concerned, there can be no comeback for the failed lyrics of the constitution. This rejection is not a crisis, but a new chance for Europe as a social project. Some winds of our European left party have blown over. You may call it “strain of the valleys” like Brecht did. But enthusiasm could return when struggling to implement Gregor’s and Oskar’s memorandum that will be introduced by Oskar tomorrow.
Thank you very much.