European Union

With the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic shifting to Europe, the region now faces its most serious crisis since the Second World War. All of the pillars of so-called European integration are buckling under the pressure.

The Prime Minister has bought herself some time with another Brexit deadline extension. But workers and youth cannot afford to suffer any more of this chaos. We need a general election and a socialist Labour government now! According to Tory Brexiteers, Britain was supposed to be riding the waves of sovereignty and independence, having freed itself from the leviathan of the European Union. Instead, Theresa May and her ragtag government find themselves lost at sea - and with no hope on the horizon.

Just over 25 years after its foundation, the European Union looks like it could be falling apart under the weight of its own contradictions. Everywhere you look, the major parties are coming under increased pressure due to the heightening of the class struggle as a result of 10 years of crisis. This has meant that, in one country after another, the ruling class can no longer rule in the old way.

A crunch point is approaching in the ongoing saga surrounding the highly-indebted Italian economy. This could spark a revival of the dormant euro crisis.

Less than three weeks after she survived an ultimately toothless rebellion by her pro-European MPs, Theresa May has embarked on a collision course with the hard-Brexit-wing of her party, provoking the deepest crisis her government has faced since last year’s general election.

It wasn’t long ago that Germany was considered one of the few countries with a stable political situation. On the surface at least, with high economic growth and a dominant position within Europe, everything seemed to be going well for the German ruling class. However, this stability is turning into its opposite.

Italy’s public debt stands at a staggering €2.3tn, or 132 percent of GDP: the third largest in the world after Japan and Greece. Furthermore, Italy’s banks hold the largest share of Europe's non-performing loans, totalling €224bn. Unlike Greece, which is a relatively small player in Europe, Italy has the third-largest economy in the Eurozone, contributing more than 15 percent of its overall GDP. Italy has now become a huge risk to the financial stability of the whole of the European Union.

Over the past weekend, nearly 2,000 people arrived in Spain by sea, most travelling in totally inadequate boats for the journey, risking their lives in the process. The vessel Aquarius drew media attention after the newly installed president, Pedro Sánchez, decided to allow its passengers in after Italy refused to let them shore up. The ship was carrying 629 people, 123 of them under 18, who were mainly travelling on their own.

Re-visiting the question of the United States of Europe in the wake of the war and the creation of the Soviet Union, Trotsky once again put forward the slogan of a “United States of Europe” in his 1923 article, "Is the Time Ripe for the Slogan: ‘The United States of Europe’" published in Pravda. Again, Trotsky emphasises the revolutionary significance of the demand for the democratic unification of Europe but this time with an even clearer class content, asserting that the demand for a United States of Europe cannot be isolated from the demand for a “Workers’ Government”.

 As Josh Holroyd discusses, the future for both the UK and EU under capitalism is one of stagnation, slump, and austerity. The chaos of Brexit is a precursor to further crises in Europe as the system continues to unravel.

Despite Labour riding high in the polls, Corbyn’s critics are desperate to appease big business and the banks by remaining in the European Union and maintaining the status quo. As a result of vocal outrage from the right-wing of the party, Labour have made a U-turn on the question of Brexit. Corbyn and the Left should be fighting for a socialist alternative.

The imperialist military interventions in Iraq, Syria and Libya were portrayed by Western leaders as “humanitarian” operations to restore democracy and human rights. But what has instead occurred is the exact opposite with the rise of different degrees of barbarism in all three countries. Just like in Syria and Iraq, we are now also witnessing the rise of slave-like conditions in Libya on a systematic level.

The die is cast. In her letter, hand-delivered this afternoon to the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, Theresa May has announced the beginning of Brexit negotiations under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, marking a point of no return for both British and European capitalism.