After analysis of the results of the Amsterdam Intergovernmental Summit, although we do still do not know completely what was approved, we believe that available information already allows us to point out three main aspects:
. An intense mystification of employment and social issues
. A continuation of rampant neo-liberalism, with federalism close behind
. Important social movements have forced onto the agenda the essential concerns of workers and peoples
1. Employment and social questions - realities and fictions
By repeating for the umpteenth time generalities about employment and remedies for unemployment, the Summit advanced not a millimetre towards giving real answers to the social blight that affects 20 million workers in the countries of the Community!
The fiction is the inclusion in the European Union Treaty of chapters on employment and social policy without the financial measures necessary to fulfil them.
The reality is promises of funds, which will come from whatever is left over from the increase in investment that the European Investment Bank (EIB) will undertake in view of the enlargement of the Community, and from respective funds upon the extinction of the European Iron and Steel Community in 2002.
The reality is the satisfaction shown by the German Finance Minister, Weigel, at the agreement on employment: "it does not presuppose more money".
The fiction is the hope that everything will be resolved at the next Summit, in Luxembourg, in October. The reality is that the Dutch Prime-Minister, Wim Kok, speaking about this Summit, said that we should not hope for miracles, and the Luxembourg Prime-Minister and Finance Minister said that "it should not give rise to exaggerated expectations".
The fiction is successive solemn statements, (hypocritical) concern and proposals for agreements for growth and employment, to which are added "confidence", "competition", "stability", repeated at successive summits.
The reality is that unemployment has climbed from 12.2 million in 1990 to about 19/20 million today. It is enough just to remember Delors' White Book in 1992, promising to create 17 million jobs by the year 2000, while today, two years before this date, there are 5 million more unemployed.
The reality is that, in the two resolutions on stability, growth and employment adopted by the Council in Amsterdam, "European competitivity" was declared "a pre-requisite for growth and employment". It was written that the "European Union may complement national measures, through a systematic examination of all relevant common policies, including trans-European networks and R&D programmes, in order to generate the creation of more jobs and economic growth, while respecting the financial outlook and inter-institutional agreement".
The brutal reality is, among many other examples, the recent announcements by Electrolux and ABB (Asea Brown Boveri) of the Wallenberg Group, the most powerful financial group in Sweden, that they intend to dismiss more than 50 thousand workers.
The inclusion in the Treaty of the special situation faced by the ultra-peripheral regions, while being positive, must not detract from the absence of any indication about the way to guarantee financial support for this decision. It should be remembered meanwhile that, with the implementation of projects to reform the Common Market Organisations (CMOs) for banana and milk, which will seriously affect the economic situation in the Autonomous Regions, respectively of Madeira and the Azores, like those for employment and other decisions, Germany has managed, through an additional protocol, to stipulate that all costs will be covered within the present framework of existing funds.
Furthermore, reference should be made to the uncertainty reigning in Europe about the inclusion of authorship rights in the Treaty. In a note to the press from the Directorate General III (of the European Union), this has been demanded by Italy, Greece, Sweden and Denmark. Unfortunately, it has been forgotten by Antonio Guterres.
2. The brutal reality of the Stability Pact and the advance towards federalism
What has not been left out was the Stability Pact agreed to in Dublin, which, we remind you, begins to condition henceforth the budget policies of each of the sovereign countries of the European Union. The Summit pledged "all parties, especially the Member-States, the Council and the Commission, to comply with the Pact for Growth and Stability in a strict and prompt manner"!
It should be remembered that, according to this pact, the "reference value" for budget deficits remains at 3% of Gross Domestic Product (PIB). But this value must be considered as a ceiling in normal conditions. National budgetary policies must create room to manoeuvre to adapt to exceptional and momentary disturbances while always avoiding excessive deficits. For which, budgetary objectives in the medium term must be "near to being balanced or in surplus": effectively a balanced budget for the entire economic cycle.
It should also be remembered that, for example, a country like Portugal, upon joining the single currency, in a year in which the GDP is equal to 15,000 billion escudos together with a budget deficit of 4%, will pay a fine of 45 billion escudos!
It is a full re-assertion of the road, logic and timetable for the single currency embodied in the fundamentalist monetary policies written into the Pact, completely at odds with employment and social policies that answer the demands and needs of workers and peoples.
Only demagogically can it be stated that it is possible to square the circle: Jobs/Stability Pact. The political leaders of the European Union have earned at the Summit, without doubt, a nomination for the next Nobel Prize for economics. By separating the control and management of monetary policy and the single currency (handed over to functionaries of the independent European Central Bank) from control and management of economic policy (handed over to a nebulous economic government), they have discovered an economy without money and a currency with an economy!
While the institutional changes sought by hard-line federalists were not achieved, the design of the change in voting ratios is not to be underestimated, which, by reinforcing the weight of population, reduces the weight of States. At the same time, some advance in the 2nd and 3rd pillars of a joint foreign policy, after Shengen, reinforces the concept of Europe as a military power and fortress.
Meanwhile, the more astute federalists know well that, implicit in the single currency and Stability Pact, federalism is a foregone conclusion.
In weighing up the Summit, it is worthwhile underlining that, in spite of some face-saving concessions, what has been re-affirmed and consolidated is the domination over community building of the big powers and, in particular, Germany, at the service of and in the direction desired by transnational capital.
3. A struggle to undertake: for a Europe of workers and peoples
The great social movements seen in Europe, which have already given rise to electoral and political changes in a number of countries (elections in which voting went against and defeated those, whether right-wing or social-democratic, who have applied the Maastricht policies), had a victorious sense at this Summit: they made sure that the interests of the workers and peoples had a central place at the Conference and in the mass media. Back in May, Antonio Guterres (and many Community documents) assured that the Summit would not deal with the single currency and Stability Pact. But already in June, he and his partners are forced to confront unemployment and the social problems of Monetary and Economic Union that have become the first item on the agenda, and which affect all the work of the Summit.
This struggle must be continued: at the national level and through co-operation between progressive and left-wing forces, the forces of work, for another, different Europe.
To continue the struggle against unemployment, temporary work and social exclusion, which are the themes of the Europe-wide demonstrations which culminated in a rally of 50,000 Europeans in Amsterdam on the eve of the Summit.
To continue the struggle for the peoples to democratically decide on the future of the European Union and of Europe itself, with the demand for a referendum on the revised Treaty of Maastricht and on the single currency.
To continue the struggle for a Europe based on co-operation between independent and sovereign countries and peoples, a Europe of jobs, democracy and peace.