Britain: Euro debate – independent workers’ struggle needed

GORDON BROWN’S Commons statement on the euro, the world’s biggest currency union, deliberately faced both ways. The government said it would try to "break down anti-euro prejudice", but it would not hold a referendum on joining as yet.

Brown said that only one of his five economic tests for Britain’s entry had been met. Britain’s money men – bankers, financiers etc. – think they would do better if they were in the euro, but the other criteria weren’t reached.

12 countries with over 300 million population joined the eurozone in 2002. The capitalist European Union (EU) initiated the euro because of growing competition in markets and trade with the US-dominated North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Japanese-led Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The eurozone is already facing huge problems, including one of Brown’s unfulfilled criteria – the flexibility to cope with the divergences of individual nations’ economic cycles.

In good times, the EU partially overcomes some restrictions on markets and trade between nations. But when the economy gets rough, splits appear. The eurozone tries to keep content many different capitalist governments who still face the inevitable boom and bust of the capitalist system, but at divergent times.

Already France has faced a mass uprising over pensions and other capitalist cutbacks but the euro makes it almost impossible for individual states to use currency measures to temporarily overcome difficulties.

Europe’s stability pact is a tight restriction on governments, particularly those facing economic problems and combative class opposition. Even usually pro-euro states such as Germany are experiencing hard times with huge job losses and the threat of strike movements by angry workers. In or out of the euro, crises of capitalism will continue.

The capitalist anti-euro movement is often reactionary, Little Englander prejudice. The working class movement needs to put forward an independent socialist opposition to the euro.

Whether British capitalism joins the eurozone or not, the class struggle will go on. The first priority for working-class organisations such as the trade unions, is to fight back against these attacks and if necessary organise with others on a Europe-wide basis.

We are against the capitalist EU and the euro. But on the basis of workers’ democracy and a voluntary federation of workers’ states throughout Europe the basis could be built for a socialist union of European states, which could really meet the needs of working people.

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June 2003