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by John Foster

The current negotiations between the European Union and Greece are a stark reminder of the EU’s anti-democratic character.

The economically most powerful states in the EU are determined to assert the neoliberal predominance of Europe’s biggest monopolies and banks over the democratic will of the Greek people. It was this dominance that caused the economic crisis in the first place. It is now intensifying it.

This is the danger of Syriza’s commitment to the eurozone and its offer to run a 1.5 per cent budget surplus.

This would enable EU leaders to make limited concessions in order to secure a settlement which continues to erode the rights not just of the people of Greece but of working people across Europe.

The drive to reduce standards, enforce labour market “flexicurity” and eliminate “barriers to competition” will intensify.

On this front there is no difference between the predominance given to big business by the Lisbon Treaty and that which would be imposed by the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

Every support must be given to the Greek people in this crisis. They voted overwhelmingly against austerity and to take democratic control of their economy. Their struggle is now integral to the defence of democracy and popular sovereignty across Europe.

In Britain, exactly the same big business forces are poised to take advantage of a Tory election victory.

The EU’s “balanced budget” requirements will be used to push forward privatisation of the NHS and schools, destroy what remains of the public sector and introduce a new round of anti-trade union laws.

This is why a clear Labour victory on May 7 is essential.

Ed Miliband is right to demand higher taxes on the very rich and to identity the problems posed by Britain’s massive array of tax havens.

But the great majority of people in Britain want more. They want public ownership of the utilities and an end to austerity.

The Competition and Markets Authority report on energy companies reveals the futility of simply capping prices.

And the answer to tax havens in Britain’s overseas territories and dependencies is for the British government to use its powers to impose the same tax obligations as here at home.

Most crucially of all, Labour also needs to break with the most lethal part of the new Labour heritage, namely its costly and dangerous nuclear alliance with the US.

Events in Ukraine since the US-backed coup have demonstrated all the dangers of Nato expansionism.

Last September, David Cameron hosted the Nato summit in Newport which agreed to Operation Spearhead.

This was completed last month, with new Nato military command centres operational in Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Six Nato countries, including Britain, are now committed to a lightning mobilisation of 25,000 troops on Russia’s borders within seven days.

As the US hawks press for military intervention in Ukraine, Labour should remember that Blair’s most damaging error was in Iraq.

Labour must reconsider its nuclear stance and at the same time press for the full implementation of the Minsk Agreement guaranteeing the economic and territorial integrity of the autonomous republics of eastern Ukraine.

John Foster is the Communist Party’s  international secretary. This is an extract from a speech he delivered to the political committee on February 18.

2 thoughts on “Britain must break with austerity, the EU and NATO

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