The EU veto that never was

Media pundits and politicians alike have been gravely discussing and debating the ‘veto’ wheeled out by Tory leader David Cameron at November’s emergency EU summit. The only problem is there was no veto.

A ‘veto’ would have unilaterally blocked any treaty or deal at the summit, that didn’t happen Cameron simply flounced out leaving the rest to it.

The European Council ‘president’ Herman Van Rompuy has since announced that the agreement reached could be signed off in 12 weeks without the Tories but with their full blessing.

“Early March at the latest, this fiscal compact treaty will be signed,” the unelected ‘president’ said.
Cameron was summoned to Berlin weeks before the summit to agree the strategy which would allow Germany and its junior partner France to grab more powers over the budgetary policies of member states through the EU institutions.

It was quite clear that formal UK involvement with full fiscal union within the Eurozone would have precipitated a political crisis and strengthened the campaign to demand a referendum on British membership of the EU.

Therefore the carefully choreographed ‘walk out’ by Cameron was cooked up for the summit. This has allowed the Conservative leader to unite his party, outflank Tory eurosceptics and isolate his Lib Dem lapdogs. Germany and France can even claim to have seen off the ‘Anglo-Saxons’.

More importantly the deal still gives the green light for Germany to impose a common EU austerity policy and deepen the Germanisation of Europe.

Yet in all the media clamour about the non-veto, the actual contents of this deeply reactionary plan for a bankocracy have largely been ignored.

The deal will allow the most powerful member states to protect their debt-laden banks by demanding vicious austerity measures in the eurozone states starting with Ireland, Greece and Portugal and spreading rapidly across the entire EU.

In other words EU elites are exploiting the growing crisis to carry out a corporate coup d’etat by creating a pseudo state where democracy only exists in the past tense.

The agreed summit communique sets up a ‘fiscal compact’ promoting the type of austerity already being carried out in Britain for all remaining ‘Euro plus’ 26 countries.

It also brings forward the implementation of a European Stability Mechanism (ESM) for the Eurozone to be in place by July 2012.

Both documents effectively outlaw any reflationary, Keynesian policies and certainly bans any socialist solutions to the growing crisis.

EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn claims that EU institutions can effectively bypass democratic structures in the member states to enforce the new intergovernmental pact, saying, “Our legal analysis is that by far the vast majority of measures decided on Friday can be introduced through EU legislation”.

The new ‘fiscal rule’ as it is known states “government budgets shall be balanced or in surplus; this principle shall be deemed respected if, as a rule, the annual structural deficit does not exceed 0.5% of nominal GDP.

“Such a rule will also be introduced in Member States’ national legal systems at constitutional or equivalent level.

“The rule will contain an automatic correction mechanism that shall be triggered in the event of deviation. It will be defined by each Member State on the basis of principles proposed by the Commission,” it says.

Member states that do not meet these harsh neo-liberal demands will face ‘steps and sanctions’ as decided by the commission.

“If the Commission identifies particularly serious non-compliance with the Stability and Growth Pact, it will request a revised draft budgetary plan,” it says.

The ESM for the Eurozone is also fundamentally undemocratic and even indemnifies the private sector from any losses stemming from the economic crisis which means workers and their families will be footing the bill.

The ESM treaty published in July 2011 grants the institution and its officials “immunity from every form of judicial process”. The ESM and staff will be also exempt from taxation and normal rules for financial institutions.

The institution will be governed by qualified majority voting in a system where nearly 50 per cent of votes are welded by Germany and France while countries like Ireland enjoy just 1.6 per cent.
In other words the ESM will be dominated by the great powers and will have the power to act as judge, jury and executioner of any eurozone state that break their fiscal rules.

The European Union is clearly moving rapidly into a post-democratic era of direct ‘technocratic’ control without any pretence of sovereignty for the member states. Just look at Greece and Italy where the elected governments have already been removed.

This represents the direct and anti-democratic rule of finance capital, the ultimate goal of the ‘European project’ over the last 60 years.

A few years ago former EU Commissioner Lord Mandelson boasted that ‘the age of pure representative democracy is coming to an end’, this agreement is the mechanism to make his dream come true.

While the fiscal fascists may have won the day at the summit, democratic forces are fiercely resisting including a general strike this week in protest against the Italian government’s new austerity package demanded by the EU.

Austerity must be resisted here too and democratic forces must start to develop a critical analysis of the same corporate-inspired cuts agenda whether from the City of London or Brussels.

This requires a people’s movement to resist corporate power by demanding the repudiation of the debts of the banks and a referendum on EU membership to regain democracy here and across Europe.