Eurozone crisis reaches crunch

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MONDAY’S’ summit meeting of the European Union leaders took place under siege conditions in Brussels as the city was paralysed by a general strike that halted all road, rail and air transport.

The strike, called against massive government cuts of 11.3 billion euros, acted as a grim warning to the EU leaders that the working class of Europe is not prepared to sit back and passively accept unemployment, wage cuts and the forced increase in their working lives as the price to keep the bankers and hedge funds from going bust.

If the strike did not get any formal recognition within the summit, it certainly was preying on the minds of the representatives of European capitalism who had gathered to agree ‘terms’ to save the euro.

These terms were dictated to them by the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and are enshrined in a new ‘fiscal compact’ which was agreed by all of the 27 EU countries with the exception of Britain and the Czech Republic.

This treaty essentially makes it legally binding on EU states to introduce legislation or constitutional changes that put a cap on the amount of debt the nation can run up. Any country exceeding its national debt limit, for whatever reason, will automatically be dragged before the European Court of Justice and face punitive fines.

According to Merkel this means that: ‘The debt brakes will be binding and valid forever. Never will you be able to change them through a parliamentary majority.’

The message to the working class of Europe couldn’t be clearer – forget about ‘democracy’, it doesn’t matter how you vote, you will be dictated to by the capitalist class of the EU.

However, before the ink had time to dry on this ‘fiscal compact’ it started to come apart at the seams.

In Greece, the furore over the leaked German government document proposing that an EU ‘Budget Commissioner’ should be installed in Athens to take complete control of the economy and impose even more wage cuts, the immediate privatisation of state-owned enterprises and the abolition of union collective agreements, has caused a huge political crisis in the government.

These bourgeois politicians, led by an unelected IMF-imposed prime minister, Lucas Papademos, have been forced to condemn this plan despite the fact that they have slavishly obeyed every single EU diktat to date.

Their purely verbal opposition is driven by fear of the Greek working class which, despite its reformist leadership, is meeting every attack with general strikes and occupations.

The fear of a revolutionary upsurge in workers across Europe at the imposition of dictatorship spurred the Danish prime minister to declare that ‘Brussels would defend Greece against any assault on its democracy’.

How he squares this rousing defence of Greece with acceptance of the ‘fiscal compact’ he didn’t bother to explain.

This is the nub of the issue. None of these representatives of European capitalism has the slightest problem with dumping bourgeois democracy in the civil war they are obliged to wage to force their working class to pay for their crisis.

What terrifies them is that every move they make is driving the working class across Europe inexorably along the road of revolution.

The way forward for the working people of Europe is clear; there can be no compromise on any question of jobs, wages or pensions.

Every attack must be met by all out strikes and occupations to prevent closure and privatisation.

Above all there must be a new revolutionary leadership built to replace the compromisers within the union leadership; a revolutionary leadership that will lead the struggle to overthrow capitalism and advance to socialism and the United Socialist States of Europe as part of the fight for the world socialist revolution.