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We support the European Union

Report by Gabi Zimmer, Left Party delegation speaker in the European Parliament, 25th May 2008

Dear delegates, dear guests,
I have ten minutes to cover Europe: it’s going to be tight! My interim report on our delegation in the European Parliament is available in writing from the table outside the hall. Our delegation consists of seven deputies, who were elected to the European Parliament in 2004 on the mandate of the Party of Democratic Socialism. We subsequently became delegates of the Linkspartei.PDS, and then of Die Linke (Left Party). A lot can happen in three years! Why shouldn’t such great progress also be made in France, Spain and Italy, where there is also a strong left-wing element in society? An election campaign run in collaboration with the European Left can only be a good thing for the EL. Because ten minutes go quickly, I want to highlight three things right now that are, I think, particularly important for the next few months:

1. Because myths have a life of their own, I want to make one thing loud and clear: The PDS rejected the Maastricht, Amsterdam and Nice Treaties on grounds of their content. The European election manifesto of 2004 was unequivocal on the point of the then current draft of the EU treaty. And I quote: ‘the PDS says NO to the current draft treaty”. The PDS rejected it after examining its contents. We analysed the Lisbon Treaty in the same way. By doing this, we have made progress towards an effective treaty. However, the Lisbon Treaty fosters the destructive tendencies in the development of the EU and worldwide. Therefore, the majority of our European Parliament delegation has said NO to the Lisbon Treaty. They rejected it not only because the Lisbon Treaty promotes social welfare- and wage dumping, prescribes armament and achieves its aims undemocratically, but also because it envisages surveillance, shuts off the EU from refugees and migration, and marginalises ecological and international problems. So I cannot understand how painstaking research and additional arguments compelling the Left to reject the EU Treaty are allegedly seen as another attempt to qualify the rejection of the EU Treaty. It should be blatantly obvious that the clearly expressed majority opinions of our delegation should be seen as an argument against the Treaty.

2. Oskar yesterday emphasised our international responsibility, in other words, to a committed 2009 European election campaign. In view of the German parliamentary and state elections in the coming year, this is without doubt going to be a big challenge. It is our duty to use the European election campaign as a way of improving the chances for political change during the next period of legislation in the European Parliament. This is long overdue. This cannot be brought about by the parliament alone, but these changes nevertheless cannot be made without a strong European Left in the European Parliament. It will only be possible, when European deputies take up the political momentum emanating from local initiatives to European networks; when the Left deputies take care of the communication, integration and cooperation with other democratic political and social stakeholders.
Three projects are on the agenda for open discussion, and introduction into the everyday. We want to democratise the framework requirements for national, regional and local development.  Over 80% of the laws adopted in this country deal with framework requirements, which are passed by the European Union. We want to pull back the dominance of capital and profit, and use socially and economically responsible economic policies to develop our societies for the future. We want a Europe that does not wage wars, but ensures through alternative foreign policy that no war finds its source in the future on European soil.

3. Unlike in 2004, we are beginning our 2009 European election campaign with our new party. The passage through the straits of European politics is tight. Our election campaign for 2009 cannot therefore be limited to a manifesto for the next EP legislation period, but must also include fundamental messages on European politics. Because of time constraints, I will just summarise these: our challenges take place at the level of the EU, which means we take a critical stance towards EU policy and offer demands and recommendations to the institutions of the European Union on the basis of our criticisms. We support the European Union, because we need to utilise its potential in order to solve social, ecological and global problems. In this interim report, I have given several examples of times in the current legislative period of the European Parliament, where the faction of the European Left (GUE/NGL) and the delegation of the Left Party have, despite their minority status, made important statements. These range from mitigation – if not hindrance – of the service directive,  via the retention of communal autonomy of public transport to the common criticism by MEPs and the ACP countries of the economic partnership treaties, which are de facto free trade agreements. We should not underestimate such seemingly small political victories given the current political power relations. But nor should they lead us to overestimate our own current opportunities for change. The road to political transformation in the EU is still long. This is clear in the current political debates. In particular, I would like to highlight:

· the neoliberal offensive on working relations controlled by the social state apparatus, keywords: flexicurity and cancellation of wage security from the most recent judgements of the European Courts of Justice.
· The attempt to alienate the service agreement for social and health services, keyword: principle of country of origin in cross-border traffic
· The ratification and implementation of the Lisbon Treaty, keywords: militarisation, domestic security and the so-called regulation of migration currents
· The debate around the refusal of council and commission to lay down serious strategies to combat poverty (78 million people in the EU live in poverty, of whom 19 million are children), to combat precarity in employment, and to combat the problem of insufficient incomes.

Rejection of the Lisbon strategy is essential!

Dear comrades, the EUL/NGL stands for “European United Left–Nordic Green Left”. 17 parties from 14 countries are connected with it. Among these there are several parties that do not belong to the Party of the European Left. Not all member parties of the European Left are members of the EUL/NGL – on account of their election results. The challenge is to make these differences productive for left-wing politics in Europe, to turn them into an asset in the political reality. It is a question of setting the course so that we can introduce sustainable reforms from our minority position and alter the socio-political power structure. We left-wing supporters in Germany have a special responsibility for this, as a result among other things of the resources which Germany makes available to the EU. You can also take the concrete facts from my paper, available from the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation stand. Only one scandalous point shall be mentioned here: development aid from the Federal Republic of Germany has clearly been manipulated upwards by 0.35%, and on the other hand 41.6% of the military armaments, which Germany places into the EU’s hands. Prattle about poor Germany, enslaved by Brussels, does not persuade me. We need explanations instead of smoke and mirrors, information instead of allegation. The same is true when one places the head of the German Parliamentary faction, Gregor Gysi, in the proximity of certain political powers who deny human and civil rights to the Palestinians. The human rights and civil rights campaigner Gregor Gysi never did anything like that! It falls in particular to MPs of the Left Party to inform citizens of the political situation, the interplay of political decisions on local, national and EU level, and to mobilise them for social change. We have already made a contribution. Now it must go further!