Nice Treaty Update

by Joe Higgins
Socialist Voice October 2002

WHETHER THE Nice Treaty is carried or not, the debate around the issue will have significant after effects. Key issues relating to the future direction of the EU have been highlighted.

The strategy to create a military wing for the EU and the erosion of democracy implied in the Treaty have been flagged. In the other EU member states the people did not have an opportunity for such a debate. Only their parliaments voted.

The Socialist Party highlighted a crucial change to the common commercial policy in the proposed New Article 133 of the Nice Treaty. This would give the EU Commission, for the first time, the right to negotiate with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) about how public services should be run.

We know from documents leaked a few months ago that the Commission has already been conducting secret negotiations with the W.T.O. and urging that services like water should be open to privatisation.

We know also that the major multinational corporations based in the EU are highly organised in lobby groups such as the European Round Table of Industrialists (ERT) and the liberalisation of Trade in Industries Group (LOTIS).

The multinationals have ready access to the EU Commission and to the governments of the member states. They actually wrote the rules for the single market. That is why the EU drives a policy of deregulation and privatisation of public industries and services.

The Socialist Party raised these issues during the Nice Treaty campaign and had some considerable success in getting an airing on RTE, local radio stations and in some sections of the printed media.

Another significant element in the campaign was the establishment of the Alliance Against Nice. This was a coming together of the Socialist Party, Sinn Féin, Workers Party, Green Party and the Irish Socialist Network, Independent Socialist Forum against Nice and the Socialist Workers Party and a number of independent members of the Dáil. A basic programme was agreed on the general theme of "A Europe for people - Not profits or war - vote No".

It doesn't take from the contribution of any of the participants to say that the Socialist Party was very active in pushing this initiative and in helping to organise the joint actions of press conferences, major public meetings in Dublin, Cork and Limerick, and the distribution of tens of thousands of leaflets calling for a no vote.

The intention of setting up the Alliance was to demonstrate a solid political opposition to the kind of Europe envisaged in the Nice Treaty and to affirm that a Europe where wealth and resources are democratically owned and controlled needs to be constructed instead.

No matter what the outcome of the Nice Treaty, the critical issues in relation to the economy, the privatisation agenda and EU militarisation will continue to be debated.

Equally, the developments of the anti-capitalist movement on a Europe wide, and indeed worldwide basis, together with the millions of workers who have been striking in Italy and Spain against the effects of the EU's continued attacks on their rights, demonstrate graphically that workers and youth are moving into struggle.

The Socialist Party is confident that experience will lead increasing numbers to draw the conclusion that a democratic, socialist re-organisation of the economy can cater for the needs of the vast majority of people as opposed to the present system which puts the profit of a small number of multinational corporations first.

For other articles from Socialist Voice visit the Paper files or
specifically on the Nice Referendum go to the sitemap.
To see what the Socialist Party stands for visit our main site