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South Africa
Metalworkers’ union expelled from COSATU

25/11/2014: Rebuild the trade union movement on socialist principles!

  Africa, South Africa

Catalonia
9 November “consultation” on independence

22/11/2014: Another show of strength for independence - fight for a Socialist Catalonia

  Spain

Greece
Workers’ victory at Diamant telesales company

21/11/2014: Xekinima (CWI) member wins key union position in Athens Municipality sector

  Greece

Israel-Palestine
Netanyahu threatens “heavy hand” response to synagogue attacks

19/11/2014: New rounds of repression answered by new wave of rage and protest

  Israel / Palestine

US
Mid-term elections do not mean a turn to the right in society

19/11/2014: Big Gains for Republicans while Voters Support Progressive Ballot Measures

  US

 Video
Socialist TD defends anti-water charges protests

18/11/2014: Ruth Coppinger, Socialist Party TD (MP) appears on ‘Prime Time’

  Ireland Republic, Video

Vital lessons of Hong Kong’s ‘Umbrella Revolution’

18/11/2014: Mass struggle needs genuine internal democracy and fighting working class programme to defeat dictatorship

  Hong Kong

 Video
Water tax revolt continues in Ireland

17/11/2014: Tanaiste (Deputy PM) trapped by protestors; AAA TD (MP) and Socialist Party member, Paul Murphy, assaulted

  Ireland Republic, Video

Indonesia
"New Hope" president faces intense pressures

16/11/2014: Initiative to build mass party of working class and rural poor urgently needed

  Indonesia

Ukraine
Competing ’elections’ deepen divisions

15/11/2014: Working people need socialist alternative to warring oligarchs and outside powers

  Ukraine

Scotland
SNP government announces £500 million cuts

14/11/2014: Majority of ‘Yes’ voters want end to austerity - anti-cuts candidates needed!

  Scotland

Afghanistan
British combat troops pull out

13/11/2014: A legacy of death and destruction

  Afghanistan, Britain, US

 Germany
Highly politicised train drivers’ strike

12/11/2014: Last week German train drivers and on-board staff went on strike for four days, shaking and polarising the country

  Germany, Solidarity

Greece
Mayors refuse to make job cuts

12/11/2014: Lefts, local authority workers and communities’ united can resist Troika’s policies

  Greece

Britain
Over 1,000 attend largest ever ‘Socialism’ event

11/11/2014: Socialism 2014 - infused with contagious confidence

  Britain

Belgium
Massive demonstration in Brussels

10/11/2014: Shows anger against austerity

  Belgium

Northern Ireland
20 years after the ceasefires

10/11/2014: In 1994, the IRA and Loyalist paramilitaries called ceasefires. Four years later the Good Friday agreement was declared to mark the end of the ‘Troubles’…

  Ireland Republic

Review
Environmental disaster and the need to change everything

09/11/2014: “This Changes Everything: capitalism vs the climate”, by Naomi Klein

  Environment, Review

Germany
25 years since November 9

09/11/2014: Berlin Wall brought down by mass revolutionary movement

  Germany

Canada
Right wing wins Toronto Mayoral election

08/11/2014: NDP increasingly irrelevant to needs of workers, immigrants and youth

  Canada

Elections in Brazil

07/11/2014: Narrow win for Dilma sets scene for more crisis and instability

  Brazil

Russia’s 1917 socialist revolution

07/11/2014: November 7th anniversary of workers taking power

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Europe
Anti-fascist demonstrations set for 8-9 November

06/11/2014: Movement of workers and youth needed against racism and fascism

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Canada
Ottawa ‘locked-down’ after Parliament gun attack

05/11/2014: Tory government whips-up terrorist fears to boost Canada’s imperialist role

  Canada

Ireland
Stunning Dublin by-election victory, huge water protests…new chapter for working class resistance

04/11/2014: How the Anti Austerity Alliance won a parliamentary seat and the way forward for the Left

  Ireland Republic

Book review
The Jihadis Return

04/11/2014: Isis and the new Sunni uprising, by Patrick Cockburn

  Middle East, Review

South Africa
Metal workers’ union clashes with Congress of South African Trade Unions

03/11/2014: For political and class independence - Struggle, solidarity and socialism!

  South Africa

Britain
Come to Socialism 2014

03/11/2014: Weekend of discussion & debate hosted by the Socialist Party – London 8-9 November

  Britain

  Ireland
’Abortion Pill Train’ video

02/11/2014: Pro-choice ROSA campaigners swallow abortion pills after rail journey

  Ireland Republic, Video, Women

Italy
Renzi government faces mounting opposition

01/11/2014: A one-day strike of all workers is needed

  Italy

Burkina Faso
Mass uprising ousts dictator

31/10/2014: No to military rule! Continue mass struggle – the whole rotten system must go!

  Burkina Faso

Ireland
Anti-water tax protest in Limerick

31/10/2014: Video of one of the city’s biggest protests

  Ireland Republic

Europe

Austerity locked-in with EU economic governance package

www.socialistworld.net, 05/10/2011
website of the committee for a workers' international, CWI

Implications of so-called "six-pack of economic governance measures", voted on in the European Parliament last week, are vast

Paul Murphy, MEP, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland), first published in the "Irish Left Review"

What was described by European Commission President as a “silent revolution” was passed in the European Parliament on Wednesday with hardly a mention in the mainstream media. The implications of the so-called six-pack of economic governance measures are vast. This package represents a qualitative leap forward in terms of the institutionalisation of austerity and neo-liberal economic policies at the heart of the EU and backwards in terms of a further undermining of democracy within the EU structures.

These pieces of legislation, ostensibly a response to the economic crisis, are actually a fulfilment of long-held desires by the capitalist establishment in Europe to develop a strong authority in the EU that would ensure that national governments implement austerity policies. The six-pack does this by establishing the European Commission as an effective policeman for austerity across Europe. It is also a step towards the fiscal unity that key sections of the establishment believe is necessary in order to save the euro.

Even if the media is ignoring it, the European establishment is aware of the significance of this victory from its point of view. Speaking in June 2010 about this package, European Commission President Barroso correctly stated that:

“The Member States have accepted - and I hope they understand it exactly - but they have accepted very important powers of the European institutions regarding surveillance, and a much stricter control of the public finances.”

What the package means:

In order to achieve this, the package centralises power in the hands of the un-elected European Commission, establishes a scoreboard of austerity, and gives the Commission power to impose massive fines on countries. There are many different elements to these six different pieces of legislation. However, the central basis of it is establishing a mechanism to put significant pressure on national governments to implement austerity and neo-liberal policies.

Essentially there are three key aspects of the mechanism to ensure that governments keep within neo-liberal economic orthodoxy. The first is the notion of “budgetary surveillance” and the “European semester”. What this means is a timetable across Europe for the presentation of draft national budgets at an early stage to the European Commission and Council. These draft budgets will be discussed by these bodies in advance of any discussion in national parliaments. The purpose of the discussions is clear - to put significant political pressure at an early stage on national governments to implement what the Commission and Council consider to be necessary policies.

The second is a qualitative strengthening of the “Growth and Stability Pact” - which limits countries’ public debt to 60% of GDP and annual deficits to 3% of GDP. In the past, this has been a relatively toothless mechanism, which has been ignored by both the major powers and the more peripheral less developed economies. Now this will be backed up by an enforcement mechanism.

Those who breach the targets and ignore warnings and recommendations from the Commission will be faced with a fine, consisting of either an “interest-bearing deposit” or a “non interest-bearing deposit” equivalent to 0.2% of GDP, which will be converted into a fine if the situation does not improve. This fine can then be increased with repeated failure to follow the Commission’s recommendations. These fines will amount to hundreds of millions of euro - being taken out of the pockets of states that are evidently facing real financial difficulties.

The third is the extension of this enforcement mechanism well beyond the strictures of the “Growth and Stability Pact”. Now countries will be monitored not just on their public debt and their annual deficit, but on a range of other measures as part of a “scoreboard” system. The details of what will be measured has still not been revealed, but Commission recommendations are to “cover the main economic policy areas, potentially including fiscal and wage policies, labour markets, product and services markets and financial sector regulation.” (’Prevention and Correction of Macroeconomic imbalances‘).

This gives a sense of how these proposals are not simply about tackling excess debt of deficits - but about giving the Commission a means to push right-wing economic policies generally and put pressure on countries to liberalise their labour markets and public services. Failure to act in response to warnings and recommendations from the Commission on the scoreboard issues, or being deemed to have acted “imprudently”, will open countries up to face fines. This is clearly a way for the Commission to push neo-liberal policies generally - including the liberalisation of the labour market and the privatisation of public services.

Assault on democracy

One of the most obnoxious features of this package is the fact that the already extremely limited democracy within the EU has been trampled upon in order to ensure that this austerity will rule. This attack takes a number of forms.

One is the strengthening of the power of the Commission. The majority in the European Parliament voted for a number of amendments designed to strengthen the power of the Commission. This is always the position of the right-wing in the Parliament who see the Commission as an ally in the fight for a “European” position as opposed to one rooted in the interests of the countries represented at the Council. The effect, however, is to remove decision making even further from ordinary people. The role of the Commission from the point of view of the establishment is to articulate a “European” strategy for the capitalist class in Europe. It is able to do this because it is relatively immune from the political pressure that national governments can face - precisely because the Commissioners exist in a bubble in Brussels and don’t have to face election.

Another attack is the stripping of the right to vote from “miscreant” countries on the question of sanctions. So if the Commission proposes that a country be punished by a fine of hundreds of millions of euro for example, that country and all other countries that have been deemed to be acting imprudently and have been subject to sanctions will not have a vote in this decision. You could therefore have a situation where most of the peripheral European countries have their votes taken away from them and it is the Northern European countries who are voting on the sanctions to be applied to these countries.

The other element is how this voting is to take place. The six-pack introduces a new form of voting which is breathtaking in its cynicism. Instead of a straight vote with a need for a majority of countries, or the traditional qualified majority system (which means getting 255 weighted votes out of 345, representing at least two thirds of the countries and at least 62% of the EU population), the qualified majority system is turned on its head. Now it is referred to as “Reverse qualified majority” voting. What this means is that the Council is presumed to agree with the sanctions, unless a qualified majority vote against it. This means that to overturn the sanctions, you would need to get a huge majority to vote against it. So even if the peripheral European nations still had their votes, they wouldn’t have a chance of defeating it if the major northern European governments were in favour of it! Of course, this was fully endorsed by the Parliament, and the agreed document (Enforcement measures to correct excessive macroeconomic imbalances in euro area ) argues that the procedure for the application of the sanctions should be “construed in such a way that the application of the sanctionon those Member States would be the rule and not the exception.”

Who is driving this agenda and why?

It is not indulging in conspiracy theorising to suggest that a large element of this six-pack is making sure not to “waste a good crisis”. This is posed as a response to the economic crisis. It is no such thing. It is part of the march of entrenching neo-liberal orthodoxy across Europe. The Corporate Europe Observatory (www.corporateeurope.org), an excellent research and campaign group working against the power of corporate lobbyists in the EU, has established how the major organisation of big business on a European level, the European Roundtable of Industrialists (ERT), has been pushing for such an agenda for over a decade.

Their chairman proclaimed in 2000 that a “double revolution” was underway. “On the one hand we are reducing the power of the state and of the public sector in general through privatization and deregulation… On the other we are transferring many of the nation states powers to a more modern and internationally-minded structure at European level. European unification is progressing and it helps international businesses like ours.” In 2002, the ERT were calling for ”at the drafting stage, the implications of national budgets and of major national fiscal policy measures [to be] reviewed at the level of the Union” - precisely what will now happen.

European big business wants this, because, like their political representatives in the establishment parties, they want the certainty of knowing that what they deem to be “prudent” policies will be implemented. The uncertainty of democratic debate and discussion with different economic policy options on offer is simply too much of an inconvenience. Likewise, the ability of mass movements to put pressure on their governments to withdraw some of their worst attacks is a threat to the certainty of austerity. Therein lies the need for a central authority (the Commission) that through its sanctions and political pressure will act as a counterweight to the pressure of potential mass movements.

Can this package be stopped?

The Council is due to discuss and finally agree this six-pack on 4 October, which means that the package will enter into force at the end of 2011 or at the latest by the start of 2012. Effectively, the battle inside the institutions of the Parliament and the Council has been lost, given the overwhelming majority for the right-wing parties (including so-called social-democracy) in both institutions.

The battle now moves onto the plane of the streets and the protest movements. The movement against cuts and attacks that are aimed at making working people pay for the economic crisis is redeveloping in southern Europe. A major mobilisation by the unions is being organised in Portugal, while Greece will see a general strike on 19 October. While Ireland is currently behind these developments, with the passage of time and in particular the passage of their own savage budget in December, the ability of the new government to blame the old government and avoid facing responsibility and major movements will be reduced.

The Left has a crucial responsibility to build these movements and also to intervene into them, raising the need for a European-wide fightback as well as putting forward a socialist alternative to this crisis of capitalism. With lies being told about “lazy Greeks”, it is particularly important to stress the similar problems that working people face across Europe and raise the need for a common fight-back, including a 24 hour general strike against austerity across Europe. Part of this intervention must be publicising the effect of this economic governance package and injecting opposition to this European shock doctrine into the movements.

Paul Murphy is the Irish Socialist Party / United Left Alliance (ULA) MEP for the Dublin constituency



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NEWS

South Africa: Metalworkers’ union expelled from COSATU
25/11/2014, WASP Reporters:
Rebuild the trade union movement on socialist principles!

Catalonia: 9 November “consultation” on independence
22/11/2014, Rob MacDonald Socialismo Revolucionario (CWI in Spain) Barcelona:
Another show of strength for independence - fight for a Socialist Catalonia

Greece: Workers’ victory at Diamant telesales company
21/11/2014, Xekinima Reporters:
Xekinima (CWI) member wins key union position in Athens Municipality sector

Video: Joe Higgins denounces Irish government’s water charge trickery
20/11/2014, socialistworld.net:
Mass boycott will defeat water charges

US: Mid-term elections do not mean a turn to the right in society
19/11/2014, Tom Crean, Socialist Alternative:
Big Gains for Republicans while Voters Support Progressive Ballot Measures

Video: Socialist TD defends anti-water charges protests
18/11/2014, socialistworld.net:
Ruth Coppinger, Socialist Party TD (MP) appears on ‘Prime Time’

Venezuela: Scarcity and speculation - whose fault is it?
18/11/2014, Gabriela Sánchez. Socialismo Revolucionario (CWI in Venezuela):
Who is sabotaging who?

Vital lessons of Hong Kong’s ‘Umbrella Revolution’
18/11/2014, chinaworker.info:
Mass struggle needs genuine internal democracy and fighting working class programme to defeat dictatorship

Video: Water tax revolt continues in Ireland
17/11/2014, socialistworld.net:
Tanaiste (Deputy PM) trapped by protestors; AAA TD (MP) and Socialist Party member, Paul Murphy, assaulted

Indonesia: "New Hope" president faces intense pressures
16/11/2014, Iyan, CWI Malaysia:
Initiative to build mass party of working class and rural poor urgently needed

Scotland: SNP government announces £500 million cuts
14/11/2014, Philip Stott, Socialist Party Scotland (CWI):
Majority of ‘Yes’ voters want end to austerity - anti-cuts candidates needed!

Afghanistan: British combat troops pull out
13/11/2014, Niall Mulholland, from The Socialist (weekly paper of the Socialist Party – CWI England & Wales):
A legacy of death and destruction

Germany: Highly politicised train drivers’ strike
12/11/2014, Sascha Stanicic, Socialist Alternative (CWI in Germany):
Last week German train drivers and on-board staff went on strike for four days, shaking and polarising the country

Greece: Mayors refuse to make job cuts
12/11/2014, Eleni Mitsou, Xekinima (CWI Greece):
Lefts, local authority workers and communities’ united can resist Troika’s policies

Britain: Over 1,000 attend largest ever ‘Socialism’ event
11/11/2014, Sarah Sachs Eldridge, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
Socialism 2014 - infused with contagious confidence

Belgium: Massive demonstration in Brussels
10/11/2014, Geert Cool, LSP/PSL (CWI in Belgium):
Shows anger against austerity

Review: Environmental disaster and the need to change everything
09/11/2014, Bill Hopwood, from the November 2014 edition of Socialism Today:
“This Changes Everything: capitalism vs the climate”, by Naomi Klein

Canada: Right wing wins Toronto Mayoral election
08/11/2014, Socialist Alternative Toronto:
NDP increasingly irrelevant to needs of workers, immigrants and youth

Europe: Anti-fascist demonstrations set for 8-9 November
06/11/2014, Anti-fascist organiser, Stockholm:
Movement of workers and youth needed against racism and fascism

Canada: Ottawa ‘locked-down’ after Parliament gun attack
05/11/2014, Socialist Alternative Reporters, Canada:
Tory government whips-up terrorist fears to boost Canada’s imperialist role

Book review: The Jihadis Return
04/11/2014, Reviewed by Paul Gerrard, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
Isis and the new Sunni uprising, by Patrick Cockburn

South Africa: Metal workers’ union clashes with Congress of South African Trade Unions
03/11/2014, Moses Mayekiso, WASP President and Numsa founding general secretary (elected while on trail for treason in 1987):
For political and class independence - Struggle, solidarity and socialism!

Britain: Come to Socialism 2014
03/11/2014, Sarah Sachs-Eldridge, Socialism 2014 organising team:
Weekend of discussion & debate hosted by the Socialist Party – London 8-9 November

Ireland: ’Abortion Pill Train’ video
02/11/2014, Socialistworld.net:
Pro-choice ROSA campaigners swallow abortion pills after rail journey

Italy: Renzi government faces mounting opposition
01/11/2014, Giuliano Brunetti, ControCorrente (CWI Italy):
A one-day strike of all workers is needed

Burkina Faso: Mass uprising ousts dictator
31/10/2014, CWI Reporters, Ivory Coast:
No to military rule! Continue mass struggle – the whole rotten system must go!

CWI Comment and Analysis

ANALYSIS

Ireland: Lies and distortions against community protests, the AAA and the Socialist Party
21/11/2014, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland) reporters:
Government and Water Charges completely undermined

Israel-Palestine: Netanyahu threatens “heavy hand” response to synagogue attacks
19/11/2014, Yasha Marmer, Socialist Struggle Movement (SSM):
New rounds of repression answered by new wave of rage and protest

Ukraine: Competing ’elections’ deepen divisions
15/11/2014, Rob Jones, CWI Moscow:
Working people need socialist alternative to warring oligarchs and outside powers

Northern Ireland: 20 years after the ceasefires
10/11/2014, Ciaran Mulholland, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland):
In 1994, the IRA and Loyalist paramilitaries called ceasefires. Four years later the Good Friday agreement was declared to mark the end of the ‘Troubles’…

Germany: 25 years since November 9
09/11/2014, By Robert Bechert, CWI, who was living in Berlin in 1989:
Berlin Wall brought down by mass revolutionary movement

Elections in Brazil
07/11/2014, Andre Ferrari, LSR (CWI in Brazil):
Narrow win for Dilma sets scene for more crisis and instability

Russia’s 1917 socialist revolution
07/11/2014, Clare Doyle, CWI:
November 7th anniversary of workers taking power

Ireland: Stunning Dublin by-election victory, huge water protests…new chapter for working class resistance
04/11/2014, Kevin McLoughlin, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland):
How the Anti Austerity Alliance won a parliamentary seat and the way forward for the Left

Kurdistan: Battle for Kobanê at a crossroads
31/10/2014, Serge Jordan, CWI:
What does US military ‘assistance’ mean for the Kurdish struggle?

A ‘third industrial revolution’
28/10/2014, Peter Taaffe, general secretary of the Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
New technological innovations are having a huge impact on the capitalist system, a subject explored in a new book, The Zero Marginal Cost Society.

Britain: Anniversary of first issue of Militant newspaper
24/10/2014, Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party general secretary, from this week’s Socialist (paper of the Socialist Party – CWI England & Wales):
50 years of socialist ideas and workers’ struggle

Spain: Death knells of "Transition" regime
23/10/2014, Danny Byrne, CWI:
Catalonia; ’Podemos’, and the left

Kazakhstan: Brutal repression in imperialism’s interests
20/10/2014, Mike Whale, Secretary of Campaign Kazakhstan (first published in October 2014 issue of Socialism Today):
Workers pay the price for crony capitalism

Is the US promoting a “colour revolution” in Hong Kong?
18/10/2014, Dikang, Socialist Action (CWI in Hong Kong):
Beijing’s scare propaganda doesn’t stand up to examination

Britain: Workers need a pay rise - how can we pay for it?
17/10/2014, Peter Taaffe, general secretary of the Socialist Party (CWI in England and Wales):
End poverty, inequality and capitalism

Ireland: Byelection triumph marks turning point in anti-austerity struggle
14/10/2014, Eddie McCabe, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland):
Paul Murphy wins parliamentary seat as 100,000 march against water charges

Middle East: US-led policy of air attacks on Islamic State lies in ruins
13/10/2014, Tony Saunois, CWI:
As battle for Kobane rages, IS forces make major gains in Iraq

Ireland: Paul Murphy elected to Irish parliament in stunning byelection victory
12/10/2014, socialistworld.net:
Anti-Austerity Alliance victory shocks political establishment, reflects mass revolt against water charges and austerity

South Africa: "A workers’ party must emerge"
11/10/2014, John Malanga, Democratic Socialist Movement (CWI South Africa):
Dire position of South African capitalism and inequality adds momentum towards creation of workers’ party

Israel/Palestine: After the Gaza war
07/10/2014, Shahar Benhorin, Socialist Struggle Movement (CWI Israel-Palestine):
No justice for Palestinians and no peace for the region - For a socialist solution!

Hong Kong: Pro-regime thugs attack protesters
06/10/2014, Dikang, Socialist Action (CWI Hong Kong):
Organise democratic defence committees to repel attacks and kick out CY Leung’s government!

Kurdistan: The battle for Kobanê
02/10/2014, Serge Jordan, CWI:
Regional war poses new challenges for struggle for Kurdish self-determination

Iraq /Syria: US-led bombings will worsen divisions
01/10/2014, Judy Beishon, from the Socialist (weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party – CWI England & Wales):
Stop imperialist slaughter!

Hong Kong: Massive anti-government protests after attempted police crackdown
30/09/2014, Vincent Kolo, chinaworker.info:
Anger over police violence fuels spontaneous “umbrella revolution” and growing strike movement

Scotland: Independence referendum - A working-class revolt
24/09/2014, Peter Taaffe, General Secretary, Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
The referendum has turned British politics upside down – even though the No vote won