ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Francis Wurtz. Double faute au premier Conseil européen
by Max Staat
Translated Thursday 2 July 2009, by
Francis Wurtz, Honorary Member of the European Parliament, where he has sat for the last thirty years, gives us his opinions on the recent decisions of the Council.
The European Council has just decided to make the Irish revote on the Treaty of Lisbon, which they previously rejected, and to renew José Manuel Barroso’s mandate. What are your reactions?
Francis Wurtz. It will give those who believed Sarkozy’s promises to change Europe something to think about. These are two highly symbolic decisions. The first, concerning Ireland, is doubly significant. First of all, it demonstrates the official, solemn refusal to recognise the sovereignty of the Irish people. Secondly, there are the famous guarantees the European Council has offered Ireland in an attempt to extract the people’s agreement. For example, the reassertion that the treaty of Lisbon will not affect Ireland’s choice in tax matters. What does this mean? It means the possibility of continuing with the policy of social dumping. So Ireland, which taxes companies 12.5% compared with the European average of 30%, can continue to hope to encourage the relocation of jobs to the detriment of its neighbours. Another of these guarantees is even more disgraceful. It reaffirms, unfortunately in all honesty, that under the Treaty of Lisbon all countries are free to ban abortion. So not only is this decision totally unacceptable from a democratic point of view, but the “guarantees” offered to the Irish serve to emphasize the most conservative and right-wing characteristics of the Treaty.
Doesn’t this non-respect of the will of the Irish people today, or the French in 2005, risk polarising Europe and its citizens even further?
Francis Wurtz. It confirms, in any case, that given half a chance, European leaders have no scruples about overriding the will of the people. They have plans for Europe and they will do everything in their power to remove any obstacles put in their path by citizens. But everything now depends on the conclusions citizens draw from this observation. They can conclude that there is no point voting, and this undoubtedly goes some way to explaining the increasing rate of abstention from European elections. They can also conclude that something must be done; that the balance of power must be changed in order for the rules to be changed. This is the option chosen by the Left Front and its elected representatives.
What about the election of José Manuel Barroso?
Francis Wurtz. I recall that when Barroso first ran for office in 2004, I characterised this inveterate liberal and zealous ally of George Bush in the Iraq War, as the candidate who represented everything that the European United Left, which I presided at the time, was fighting against. The experience has been revealing. Two lessons have been learned. It has confirmed that Nicolas Sarkozy has deceived the French people with his talk of changing Europe. There has also been a lesson for the left. The European Council voted for the proposal concerning Barroso unanimously. The Heads of State from Great Britain, Spain and Portugal, whose leaders are socialists, therefore approved this election. Those who thought that to build a socialist Europe all you had to do was to vote socialist are going to find themselves disappointed. All this confirms that the choices made by the Left Front during this campaign were well founded.
Interview by Max Staat