Speech by Ângelo Alves, Member of the Political Committee of the CC and Member of the International Department, XX Congresso do PCP

The crisis in and of the European Union and the other Europe of Workers and Peoples

The crisis in and of the European Union and the other Europe of Workers and Peoples


The European continent’s peoples are undergoing a time of great instability, major social and economic crisis, and democratic and civilisational retrogression.

Dark pages of our History, such as war and fascism, are again lurking on the horizon. Social gains are being openly attacked. Several states are undergoing the destruction of their productive infrastructure or suffering unbearable levels of indebtedness. The financial system’s instability carries with it the threat of fresh episodes of crisis. Democratic and sovereignty rights are placed in jeopardy. The extreme right is gaining ground in various countries, and the most basic of human rights are being trampled upon, and being denied to those suffering the world’s largest humanitarian crisis since World War II.

This situation has its causes. One of the major ones is the capitalist integration process in Europe and its structure: the European Union.

The last four years have exposed the EU’s imperialist nature even more. The European Union – blatantly attacking peoples’ rights, interests and aspirations – has confirmed its status as a domain of big European monopolies and transnational corporations, and as a concentrator of power into Europe’s major capitalist countries, particularly Germany and France.

Big capital’s reaction to the deepening structural crisis of capitalism has been been to step up neo-liberalism, militarism and federalism – the European Union’s key pillars. The rates of labour exploitation, and the concentration and centralisation of capital have been pushed even further, together with their corresponding political measures: more centralised and opaque supra-national powers; imposition of colonial-type relations of domination; further “security”-seeking and anti-democratic measures; stepped-up militaristic and aggressive behaviour by the EU, operating as NATO’s European arm.

The Euro has been exposed even more clearly – whom it serves, and what purposes it serves. Its existence is one of the prime factors in the economic, financial and social crisis. It operates as a veritable straitjacket, preventing economic and social development. All the talk about “convergence” and “cohesion” has been blown to smithereens. All that remains of the Euro’s swan songs are imbalances, inequalities, economic retrogression, poverty and – of course – the blackmail and diktats that (it should be pointed out) have not ceased in spite of the “sanctions” [against Portugal and others] saga’s outcome.

As the situation in Greece shows, it is an illusion – or a lie – to state that it is possible to implement progressive policies to protect workers’ and peoples’ interests while at the same time accepting the European Union’s – and especially the Euro’s – constraints. NO! A clash is inevitable. The manoeuvres and blackmail that Portugal has just undergone will only cease when our country rids itself of the constraints and hindrances created by the European Union – starting by ridding itself of the Euro.

The European Union’s stepped-up offensive has heightened its own contradictions. Even for them, for the Brussels Consensus lot, problems are far from having been solved, or even from having a solution in sight. What characterises the present is the possibility of a reconfiguration, or even disintegration of, “not just” the Eurozone, but of the European Union itself.

The various lines of contradiction in this process are now very visible. Among others: class contradictions, base-superstructure contradictions (with nationality issues playing an increasingly important role) and inter-imperialist contradictions. These contradictions converge into a crisis of the integration process – which is itself an expression of capitalism's structural crisis – that is, a crisis in and of the European Union.

It is against this background that we should be interpreting major events such as the UK referendum – which dealt a serious blow to the theories about the European Union's irreversibility – that express a popular discontentment that cannot be dismissed with simplistic references to British nationalism or xenophobia.

Big capital and the right-wing and social-democratic political groups are now attempting to work around the crisis by pushing forward even more. Referring to problems that they themselves created, they now say that to confront terrorism, war , the extreme right wing and nationalisms, it is necessary to unite, democratise and rebuild that same European Union. And for that they have started talking about returning to foundational values, and waving a “save Europe” image.

But comrades, the so-called “foundational values” that they talk about, are merely the European Union's pillars, that untouchable political and ideological construct that is itself the source of the problems. European Union “democratisation” or “reconstruction” is just one big lie that brings together the right, the social-democrats and the “pro-European left”. We say it again: The European Union stands for class interests that can never address the interests of workers and peoples. That is the deep-seated reason why the EU is unreformable.

It's No, but when it comes to saving Europe... oh Yes, communists are engaged in doing that. We are engaged in protecting Portugal and Europe from unemployment, from poverty, from corruption, from war, from terrorism, from racism, from xenophobia, from onslaughts against freedom and democracy, from nationalisms and from the extreme right-wing.

And that is precisely why we fight the European Union: It is the EU's policies, and the interests that it protects, that originate these serious problems and dangers.

To those that – irresponsibly – accuse the PCP of being nationalist, we reply: firstly, protecting one's right to sovereign development is the first thing that needs to be done to contain the extreme right-wing and nationalisms. Secondly, that it is precisely our internationalism that leads us to the conclusion that to save Europe and unite its peoples, it is necessary to defeat the European Union.

We stand for a Europe of workers and peoples. A Europe of cooperation, solidarity, social progress, peace and friendship among sovereign States and peoples. A Europe that will be built by the struggles of workers and peoples in each country, and by cooperation among progressive and left-wing forces – with a major role to be played by communists. Our stand is based on making a clean break with the European Union.

Our path and our struggle is based on our strong understanding that Europe's current direction is not inevitable; our peoples' historic experience provides us with important lessons about the stages of this struggle: that each struggle, small as it may be, serves this greater goal; and lastly, the fact that real power to change, the power that can change everything, lies in workers, in the people, and in the strength of their unity.

  • Intervenção
  • XX Congresso do PCP
XX Congresso do PCP