AT the same moment as France and Germany were being given a Nobel prize for keeping the peace in Europe, ie not going to war with each other for the last 60 years, the two countries were in fact squaring up to each other over the future of the EU, the single currency and ‘policing’ the budgets of the eurozone states.
EU states at this weekend’s summit will be at war over the plans for a French-supported banking union to bail out bankrupt states in return for austerity measures, and on German plans for closer EU integration involving a ‘commissar’ to police the budgets of the different EU states, with the power of veto over national budget spending.
There is a third group, including the UK, not in the eurozone and living in fear that any deal will be at their expense.
Just before this weekend’s EU summit, Chancellor Merkel criticised Greece’s efforts to wipe out its debt as being carried out ‘at a snail’s pace’, while the French leader Hollande criticised Merkel for Germany’s insistence on permanent austerity in place of growth.
On the fringes of this ‘great game’ over which section of the EU capitalist classes is going to control Europe, is the UK. It is no longer a major EU economic power. Its sole concern is to protect the power of the bankers of the City of London and prevent their replacement by Frankfurt.
The UK and the other nine non-euro states are bickering over their rights and seeking vetos to protect the interests of their capitalists and bankers. A section of the UK government is now advocating that Britain will have to leave the union if the position of the City of London bankers cannot be guaranteed.
Chancellor Angela Merkel has meanwhile called for the EU, that is Germany, to be given clear rights to intervene when member states’ national budgets violate the bloc’s rules, and to veto these budgets, reducing these states to a puppet status.
The EU’s economics commissioner should have the authority to declare a budget ‘invalid’, she told the German parliament in Berlin on Thursday. Her government is now insisting on a full fiscal union , as a preliminary to political union, with control at European level of tax and spending.
Spain, France and Italy want the legal basis of the banking union to be in place by January.
Merkel is countering this by urging that ‘quality must trump speed’, while on Wednesday, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble repeated the German position that ‘further steps towards political integration would strengthen the EU’.
As for the UK – ‘Britain itself must decide whether it wants to ride along with Europe or stay behind on the platform,’ said Wolfgang Krichbaum, head of the German parliament’s Europe committee.
Hollande is now opposed to the German drive to political union. However, when asked if he would risk seeing Britain leave Europe, Hollande replied: ‘I would like a UK fully engaged in Europe, but I can’t decide in place of the British.’
He added: ‘The time has come to offer a perspective beyond austerity.’
The forming of the EU did not put an end to the contradictions between the major imperialist powers of Europe. It sublated them into the new body, where they are now re-emerging with massive force to the point of explosion, driven by the worldwide banking and economic collapse. Central to this revolutionary explosion is the mass movement of the working class of Europe, from Greece to the UK.
The working class is the most important part of the productive forces that are now being destroyed throughout the EU as the slump and the austerity attack deepens. Workers are now realising that the attempt to establish a single EU state is to be on their bones.
The only solution to this crisis, for the working class, is the revolutionary overthrow of the EU by working class revolutions, and its replacement by the Socialist United States of Europe, based on replacing bankrupt capitalism with a socialist planned economy.