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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Le mépris permanent

by Jean-Paul Pierot

Permanent Contempt

Translated Thursday 2 July 2009, by Alison Billington

The unceasing contempt of European leaders as embodied in their policies in Europe.

The European councils that follow upon the consultation of the European people on the future of the Union all show the same traits: an affected ignorance of citizens’ expectations and a desire to circumvent democracy, that big spoilsport when it comes to large scale liberalization.

In June 2005, deeply disturbed by the “No” vote on the draft constitution by the French and Dutch peoples, the summit for the Heads of State and Heads of Government had only one thing in mind: to find a strategy to annul those decisions. We were witness to that terrible spectacle by a French president, namely Jacques Chirac, who, instead of delivering France’s vote, apologised in front of his peers for the embarrassment brought about by his fellow citizens.

Since then we have been living with the machinations of which his successor, Nicolas Sarkozy, has made himself the instigator, in order to enforce the ratification of the draft, under a different name — the constitutional treaty became the treaty of Lisbon –- by a congress of MPs at his disposal, usurping the sovereignty of the people.

In June 2009, on the day after the European parliament election which was distinguished by a record of total abstention, the leaders of the twenty-seven countries in the EU, paid absolutely no attention to the magnitude of the confidence crisis that affects the European Union. Worse, everything happened as if, from Angela Merkel to Nicolas Sarkozy, from Gordon Brown to Silvio Berlusconi, all the little crowd around José Manual Barroso was congratulating itself on the disaffection of the electorate. This disaffection gave to certain among them the illusion of an electoral victory. In their eyes, Europe is too important an affair to be entrusted to the European peoples.

We live under a reign of permanent democratic denial. Yesterday, France and its referendum which was trampled under foot, today, Ireland, whose people voted badly (since they refused the treaty of Lisbon), was urged to make amends for its insolence by voting again in the autumn. Thus, it was decided by the twenty Heads of State and Government- among whom was the pathetic Prime Minister Brian Cowen whose Rightist party Fianna Fail’s authority was disavowed by the electors on June 7. Faced with the Irish ‘No’, the inner circle of leaders exposes itself as never before. In order to try to squeeze out an Irish approval for the treaty of Lisbon during the new referendum, the European Council satisifed, without batting an eyelid, the demands of the most neoliberal and conservative of the country by guaranteeing that they would be able to follow a policy of fiscal dumping, and that they would be able to continue to prohibit abortion. You might remember that during the referendum campaign in France, the supporters of the ‘Yes’ vote accused the feminist organisations of insincerity when they had it noted that the right to voluntary abortion did not figure in the draft of the constitution. Are these groundless accusations ? No, voluntary abortion is not part of the rights recognised by the EU! That’s what the Council confirmed to the Irish ultra-conservatives.

This policy of contempt is embodied in the decision of European leaders to renew José Manuel Barroso’s mandat as President of the Commission. This politician, placed well to the Right on the Portuguese political scene, symbolises the acceleration of all deregulation, the deconstruction of public services, the most anti-social projects (working hours up to 65 hours per week) and the most liberticidal projects ( directive for the ‘return’ of migrants). There would certainly be some naïveté in believing that the European parliament, in which the Right is well-ensconced, could vote to form a Commission in rupture with
the Barroso team. We won’t have to wait much longer for great manoeuvres that are going to develop in the weeks to come around the composition of the Commission between the PPE [1] and the PSE [2], nor in waiting for the winks of Daniel Cohn-Bendit to Nicolas Sarkozy. Public Europe remains to be conquered.

Translator’s note.

[1PPE is the Parti Populaire European or the European People’s Party. It is Centre-Right.

[2PSE is the Parti Socialist European or the European Socialist Party. It is Rightist.

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