European Union

Is the EU an ecofriendly institution?

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For many of those on the left who support Britain's membership of the EU, environmental protection is an important factor. But the EU's pursuit of neoliberalism and its steadfast support for big farmers negate any positive noises it makes about carbon emissions, writes Chris Fuller.

Among those groups urging voters to stay in the EU in next month’s referendum are the Greens and Friends of the Earth (FoE). The Greens state, “It’s only by working with our European neighbours that we can tackle climate change, protect wildlife and reduce pollution.” FoE argue that the EU has created cleaner beaches and drinking water, reduced air pollution and protected wildlife. Both organisations enter some caveats. The FoE website is littered with accounts of EU environmental disasters. The Greens say that the EU needs to be reformed, saying it can be changed “for the common good”.

Tories cook up a crisis

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The EU referendum is deepening the cracks in the Tory Party. Joseph Choonara looks at how the refugee question and EU austerity are converging into a crisis for our ruling class.

As the campaign over Britain’s EU referendum, set for 23 June, gets under way, the arguments by those advocating a “remain” position are rapidly coming unstuck. There are three arguments often encountered on the left: that the EU secures free movement, that the EU protects workers and that an exit would lead to British politics shifting rightwards. All three are based on an unwarranted pessimism.

The bosses Europe is not for us

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David Cameron has set the date, 23 June, for the referendum on EU membership, and there’s a whiff of panic in the air.

The Tory party is split down the middle, with important figures such as current London mayor Boris Johnson opting for the leave camp in opposition to Cameron’s desire to stay.

Big business is also taking sides. Half the FTSE 100 top companies have signed a letter putting the business case for EU membership, though the capitalist class is by no means united on this.

Beware what you wish for if you vote no to EU

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Joseph Choonara (October SR) mistakes a Yes in the EU referendum as necessarily meaning support for its right wing institutions and practices. He wrongly assumes that leaving is the only way of opposing them; and he completely ignores the implications of leaving.

Firstly, instead of addressing what I wrote, he fantasises about what I was “maybe” saying or “perhaps” thinking.

In reality, I neither support nor wrote (or thought) anything about an EU “super-state”. I neither said nor implied that internationalism “must…express itself through…EU institutions”.

More space for a left No

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The debate continues on how best to be an internationalist in the run up to the EU referendum.

Last month’s Socialist Review contained James Anderson’s rather intemperate response to an article I wrote calling for an “internationalist No” in the forthcoming referendum to retain British membership of the European Union.

He writes, “The main argument for voting Yes is that in practice internationalism would be greatly facilitated and given credibility and focus by taking full advantage of the common political framework provided by the EU — by sharing the common membership and institutions and also the common enemies it provides.”

Break up the EU club

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We were for a Yes vote in the Scottish referendum not because we believed that independence was inherently progressive but because it would break up the British imperialist state and weaken our ruling class.

We should apply the same principle to the question of EU membership.

A No vote will not just hurt our ruling class economically but will also weaken it politically.

No vote weakens rulers

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The key point that James Anderson makes in his article (“EU referendum: Better to stay and fight”, September SR) is that a socialist party’s stance on the EU cannot be drawn directly from socialist principles.

There are various possible “arenas of struggle” and so opposition to the EU is not unequivocally a socialist position.

Anderson’s argument is for a Yes vote with the aim of democratising the EU institutions. This would give focus and credibility to our internationalism in a way that wouldn’t be possible if we campaigned to stay outside.

EU referendum debate: Better to stay and fight

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In last month's Socialist Review Joseph Choonara put the case for voting No to EU membership. James Anderson is not convinced, seeing potential for an anti-racist, internationalist Yes vote.

The debate was opened by Joseph Choonara (July/August SR) with standard criticisms of the European Union (EU). Its policies are indeed capitalist, neo-liberal, anti-democratic, racist, murderous, and — he might have added — implicated in Nato’s reckless eastwards expansion to Ukraine. Not unlike UK policies in fact.

But unfortunately, like others on the left, he simply assumes that the only way to oppose EU policies is to leave it. There is no analysis of the likely consequences, no explanation of why we should “go”, or where.

EU referendum: Should we stay or should we go?

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As the debate over European Union membership heats up, Joseph Choonara argues that socialists should argue for a left wing No vote, despite the right wing dominating the campaign for a "Brexit".

Referendums are often awkward terrain for socialists, because the terms of the debate are set by establishment politicians. The referendum on British membership of the European Union (EU) is a particularly tricky specimen. The mainstream arguments on both sides will be unpalatable.

The Yes campaign, to retain Britain’s EU membership, will be dominated by the Conservative and Labour leaderships, along with what’s left of the Liberal Democrats.

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