The fact that the Irish Government will have the presidency of the European Union for the next six months and the European elections means that more public attention than usual will be focused on important issues relating to the EU.

The EU has recently launched the European Security Strategy, which sets out a basis for European Union foreign policy and has, as one of its cornerstones, the development of a military wing by the European Union for use outside its borders. When we strip away all the usual pious talk about freedom and democracy in the world we get down to the real story.

The strategy is in essence that the expanded E.U which will have a population of 450 million people, accounting for 25% of the world's Gross National Product and be a major economic power, should have a military wing that will allow it to position itself on the world stage as an equal to the main and only super power of the present time, the United States of America. EU strategists wish the EU to carry the same political weight as the US in the Middle East and Africa for example and feel that the strong military wing is a prerequisite for this.

The European Security Strategy provides for the setting up of a European Defence Agency, which among other tasks, would provide for an EU armaments industry. In fact the Irish Government will have to push this particular Agency in the course of its presidency. This is a particularly disgusting enterprise. People throughout Europe will question why billions of their taxes should be put into the research and development of weapons that can shred and incinerate more people more horribly, and over greater distances, when mountains of such weapons already exist.

We should give no credence whatsoever to the argument that the creation of an EU Army will lead to a more peaceful world any more than the presence of the US army worldwide has led to peace. Problems of conflict and terrorist outrages arise from the conditions created by a world dominated by multinational corporations greedy for super profits residing over billions of people who are plagued by poverty, by curable diseases, by environmental degradation and are the victims of the political and religious obscurantism that can arise when these conditions abound.

The creation of a world where people can live free from conflict is conditional on the power of the great capitalist corporations being broken. It is conditional on the wealth and the resources of society being placed in the power and control of working people and the small farmers and peasants of the so called Third World. Implementing such a programme of democratic socialism, enough resources can be found to provide for human need on a global scale.

The new proposed EU Constitution will provide a further threat to public services in Ireland. It gives EU bureaucrats greater power in making deals with undemocratic organisations such as the World Trade Organisation and these deals can then be imposed on unwilling states through a majority vote at EU level. Privatisation of crucial public services is one policy resulting from such arrangements.

The Socialist Party will contest the European elections in the Dublin constituency. We will avail of the opportunity presented by this campaign to advocate the alternative of democratic socialism and socialist internationalism to the big business dominated EU of the present. We will also use the opportunity to demand full public debate on crucial issues including those touched on here.

Here are some other articles from the Joe Higgins Column

This article is from the January 2004 edition of Socialist Voice. Back issues are available here.