THE knives are out between the British ruling class and its Franco-German opposite numbers.
The press conference at the end of Blair’s visit to Moscow, yesterday afternoon, saw Blair nervously rehearsing just what he is to tell the German and French leaders when they meet today.
Blair said that he would be diplomatic but firm, and that there would be movement on Britain’s £3 billion EU rebate only as part of ending EU farm subsidies.
Putting on a show of indignation, Blair demanded to know, with Putin watching on, just why 40 per cent of the EU budget should be spent on propping up five per cent of its population, that is the French peasantry.
The Franco-German leadership’s line is that renegotiation of EU agricultural subsidies can only come after the end of the forthcoming British presidency, and that the British rebate must be ended now.
In fact, Blair knows that ending the agricultural subsidies would mean a revolutionary explosion in France, and that Chirac cannot just terminate them. The very fact that Blair and Straw are raising this demand, a demagogic demand as far as the French bourgeoisie is concerned, is a measure of the chasm that has opened up between the two wings of the European bourgeoisie.
Chirac and Schroeder, for their part, are demanding that all of the EU states must complete voting on the EU constitution. The idea is that at the end of the process a way will be found of declaring that a majority are for the constitution, and that the French people should reconsider the matter, or their parliament should reconsider the matter for them.
Britain has already decided to do the opposite, to shelve its referendum. A humiliating referendum defeat for Blair would finish off his career and government. Poland and other states are following the Blair lead. Ireland and Portugal have decided to have referendums. The EU is further fracturing.
Meanwhile, Blair is demanding that the priority must be given to imposing privatisation and flexibility onto the working classes in all the EU states.
Chirac has hit back that it was the inclusion of such sentiments in the EU constitution, at Blair’s urging, that were responsible for the French ‘no vote’, and that Blair is endangering the EU.
Meanwhile in Germany and Italy, sections of the ruling class and their politicians are discussing whether or not to ditch the euro and restore their former currencies, blaming it and the common interest rate for their economic crises.
Such an action would put an end to the EU project, and see southern Europe plunge into the abyss, and see the German and French bourgeoisie take emergency measures to preserve themselves.
Both the Schroeder-led SPD, and Berlusconi’s right wing coalition are in a huge crisis. The approaching general elections may bring new Italian and German governments that will have to take immediate action over the EU crisis.
This is the debacle that the current 50 year struggle to establish a capitalist United States of Europe has ended up with.
Leon Trotsky many years ago foresaw such a crisis.
In 1915, during the First Word War he wrote: ‘A more or less complete economic unification of Europe accomplished from above through an agreement between capitalist governments is a utopia. Along this road matters cannot proceed beyond partial compromises and half measures.’
He added: ‘But this alone, an economic unification of Europe. . . is becoming a revolutionary task of the European proletariat in its struggle against imperialist protectionism and its instrument – militarism. (‘The Peace Programme’)
In Europe, the private ownership of the means of production is bound up with the historically outmoded mass of nation states. The bourgeoisie cannot create a united Europe. This can only be done by the working class, organising socialist revolutions to overthrow the bosses and bankers of Europe, to create a Socialist United States of Europe, based on a nationalised and planned economy and production for people’s needs.