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ALTERNATIVE LIBERTAIRE, "The European Constitution: AL says NO"
Article published on 7 June 2006
last modification on 13 April 2015
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The European Constitution: intergovemmentalism + technocrates

In theory, a Constitution is supposed to lay out rules for the political functioning of a State and the fundamental principals for a legal framework for its laws. The Constitution drafted by the Giscard Commission is of a different nature. It does not set out new institutions for what will be a "European State" federal or confederal : it simply redefines the rules governing the functioning of the intergovernmental framework already in existence; where, carved in marble are some of fundamental principles that virtually restates everything about the inviolate nature of market law.

AL "No" poster

So far nothing new has emerged in relation to the treaties of Maastricht (1992), Amsterdam (1997) or Nice (2000), they are a continuation (a series of developments essentially linked to economic factors, but including military aspects, foreign affairs and immigration) of the Rome Treaty of 1957 instituting the European Economic Community.

However, the European Constitution represents a substantial leap. Nearly 50 years after the Rome Treaty, another foundation stone is required in the EU architecture, a legal base for a "new departure" which will make the internal market economy a rigid legal cage for every member state or any future members.

Looking at its political mechanisms, the EU architectural structure has remained essentially unchanged: co-decisions and qualified majority votes (with new states representing at least 60% of the EU population). The running of the EU political machinery remains as ever in the hands of the technocrats in Brussels. Finally, indirect "democracy" becomes even more indirect and the real decision-making centres even more hermetic.

The adoration of the internal market, the sun-king of the EU

The way in which the Giscard project conferred a constitutional character on the control mechanisms of competition, borders on the absurd and says a great deal about the nature of "European construction". Behind that seductive term borrowed from internationalist ideals, the bourgeoisies from the various states have set out to create a commercial code that would best guarantee the growth of their wealth within a balanced framework for their respective interests. The losers are the working classes of every country of the Union in this so-called "construction", of a continental part of world capitalism.

The vocabulary of Giscard’s constitutional draft revealingly employs a subterfuge by proclaiming great humanitarian principles. But buried in the articles are finer points codifying just the opposite. This is clearly evident in the way different parts of the project are presented. Thus, Part I (The objectives of the Union), Part II (Charter of fundamental rights), or Part III (The politics and functioning of the Union), each gives an entirely different vision of the project.

For example article 1-2 declares that "the Union is based on indivisible and universal values of human dignity, equality and solidarity, it rests on the principles of democracy and the rights of the State." But this wonderful declaration is contradicted in the following articles 111-69, 70, 77, 144 and 180 all identically repeating that the. Union will act "in conformity with the respect for the principles of an open economic market where competition is free".

Barriers against any attempts to cede to social temptations

In their pursuit of anti-social policies, different EU governments have shown no hesitation in hiding behind the constraints of the UE treaties. Consequently, a fundamental treaty like the constitutional project stipulates as obligatory a whole rang of liberal dispositions (including certain clauses that specifically correspond to demands made by certain big bosses lobbies), to demand unanimity voting for any measures that might go against capitalist interests, is to block all political attempts in that direction. This is the certainly case for measures against tax fraud, or taxation of companies, the very measures that should require a unanimous vote and above all "they are necessary for the functioning of the internal market and to avoid distortion of competition." (111-63). The same applies to controls of the free circulation of capital, under article III-46-3: "Only a European law or framework law of the Council of ministers may enact measures which constitute a step back in Union law as regards the liberalisation of the movement of capital to or from third countries. The Council of Ministers shall unanimously after consultation with the European parliament."

As for the rest of the constitutional project, nearly everything that the bosses’ union wants, the Union of the confederation of industry and employers in Europe (UNICE, MEDEF of France is a member) is set out in Part III. On the other hand, there is no mention of the rights of wage earners concerning questions of remuneration, rights of associations, strike action, etc.

The European Union, an instrument for economic exploitation...

The role of the EU in international commerce (and thereby enchancing their negotiations at the WTO) is written into the Constitution. The EU "aims to contribute [...] to the progressive abolition all restrictions on international trade and on foreign direct investments, and to the lowering of customs and others barriers." (III-216). However on the question of the break up of public services, it is allowed that a member state can be in favour of maintaining a public service. But public services have: "the effect of distorting the conditions of competition in the internal market, the Commission shall, together with the state concerned, examine how these steps can be adjusted to the rules laid dawn in the Constitution. By derogation of common law procedure, the Commission or any member state can apply directly to the Court of Justice which will sit in secret..." (III-17)

Article III-80 concerns the independence status of the most opaque body of all the European institutions: the European Central Bank, watch dog of orthodox monetarism, that reduces political economy to a mere accounting evaluation of budgetary alignments of member states in accordance with Maastricht strictures.

The discard project has also responded to the demands of various bosses’ lobbies - such as the promotion of distant learning in education (III-l 82-2 (a)), or on transport, so that "any measure, adopted within the framework of the Constitution in respect of transport rates and conditions shall take into account the economic circumstances of carriers." (III-137). Still on the particular question of transport, the Constitution shows some regret that financial "aides shall be compatible with the Constitution if they meet the needs for co-ordination of transport or if they represent reimbursement for the discharge [sic] of certain obligations inherent in the concept of public service" (III-136)

...and on western military domination

On the questions of foreign policy and common security (European security and defence policy, ESDP, is one of the EU political areas), "member states shall undertake progressively to improve their military capacities." (1-40-3). Article 1-40-2 stipulates that European defence policy shall be compatible with members’ NATO obligations, a direct recognition of the superior judicial status of that military organisation. Furthermore, the article continues with even greater precision that "participating member states shall work in close collaboration with NATO". Even in situations of "internal serious disturbances affecting public order, in cases of war or of [...] the threat of war", member states are obliged to work together in order to avoid "affecting" the functioning of the "internal market" ! (III-16)

Our objective: provoke a crisis in the European Union

The crisis of the legitimacy of the European Union has been latent right from its beginnings. It was reinforced by the signing of the Maastricht Treaty: in certain countries, it was steam rolled through by the ruling classes, regardless of the hostility to the Union by a majority of the population. Such was the case of the Danish State, which had to reorganise its referendum on the ratification of the Maastricht Treaty until it, got a tiny majority in favour of signing. Or the case of the Irish Republic also confronted by a "NO" from the people to the Nice treaty in June 2001. The Irish government had to reorganise the referendum, but this time with a solid "pedagogical" preparation in order to secure a majority in favour of signing on October 2002.

The real face of "European construction" is also shown by social movements, who periodically shake-up the different countries of the Union by their opposition to the economic consequences to Maastricht policies and the Dublin Stability Pact.

The possibility of a referendum on the European Constitution - and a majority NO in many countries - might be the occasion to spark a major crisis in the EU.

  • Alternative libertaire is opposed to the European Constitution project, socle for social demolition in each member state of the EU ;
  • We are in favour of referendums on the project to be held in each member state ;
  • In the event of referendums, Alternative libertaire will campaign for a "NO anticapitalist and internationalist" in the hope of inflicting an important ideological defeat on European capitalism.
Le quatre-pages argumentaire d’AL

Alternative libertaire, Paris, 10.01.2004

- Deutsch: EU-Verfassung: AL antwortet NEIN
- Espagnol: Constitucion europea: AL dice NO
- Français: Constitution européenne: AL dit NON

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