Last week’s European summit ended in tears as negotiations on the
European Union budget collapsed. The usual diplomatic talk was nowhere
to be seen at what will become known as the summit where the whole
integration process in the EU was halted in its tracks. Maarten
Vanheuverswyn looks at the conflicting national interests that are at
the heart of this crisis.
On May 24, 2002, in the Kremlin's gilded throne room, Putin and Bush signed an agreement reducing long-range nuclear weapons by two-thirds over ten years. As part of the deal with NATO, Russia and America were supposed to cooperate in Bush's plans to build a missile defence shield once the ABM treaty is scrapped in June. Immediately afterwards, the formation of the "NATO-Russia Council" in which was Russia is supposed to participate was announced to the world. Such an agreement between the old enemies Russia and America would have seemed utterly unthinkable just one year ago. Suddenly, the world seemed a more secure place. However, as Alan Woods explains, the relations between Russia, Europe and America are not what they appear to be.
The referendum in France on the European Constitution has resulted in a decisive defeat for the ruling class. In spite of a particularly intense campaign by the media, the UMP government and the right-wing of the Socialist Party, 55% of voters have rejected the treaty.
The vote for the German SPD in the recent European elections revealed a disastrous collapse. It is the price the party pays for pushing a Blairite agenda of cuts and attacks on the welfare state. The German workers do not want this. Large numbers abstained, rather than vote for the Christian Democrats, who also lost votes. On the left, the PDS recovered from its bad showing in 1999.
The euro's launch has been greeted with a well-orchestrated campaign of official enthusiasm, designed to silence all doubts on the question. The Euro has finally been introduced as a common currency in 12 of the EU states. This is an important development. A common currency is the first condition towards European integration. It ought to boost internal trade and thus act as a powerful stimulus to the development of the productive forces. But is this going to happen?
The debate over whether Britain should join the Euro is heating up. On both sides of the debate we find a capitalist logic being applied. One side stands for so-called British "sovereignty", the other praises the merits of the wider market. Neither side is defending the real interests of the workers. As Mick Brooks points out, "The answer is surely for us to control the movement of capital by taking over the means of production, not relying on the goodwill of our enemy, the capitalist class."