23 Communist and Workers’ Parties from 20 EU member-states and accession countries participated in the meeting held in Athens on 14-15 March 2008 with the theme, "The New Treaty, developments in the EU and peoples’ struggle." Some parties that could not attend sent messages of support to this initiative. The participants in the meeting made a favourable assessment of the numerous joint initiatives, campaign actions and statements of the previous year. The importance of increasing joint and coordinated initiatives was noted, along with the need for closer coordination in the movements and institutions, and the promotion of forms of cooperation and broader fronts of struggle, while respecting the sovereignty of each party.
The participants exchanged views on the results of the Spring European Council meeting that prelude a stepping up of the Lisbon Strategy. They noted the decision about the "Mediterranean Union", the consequences of which need to be thoroughly studied.
It was underscored that the development of the EEC, and the EU that followed was the choice of the leading powers and Western European monopoly capital. It promotes neoliberal measures favouring the monopolies and the concentration and accumulation of capital. It cannot represent a genuine counterweight to the USA in favour of the people. With the Reform Treaty, new steps are being taken towards the configuration of the EU as an imperialist, economic, political and military block contrary to the interests of the workers and the peoples. The sovereignty and independence of peoples and countries are being further undermined. The participants vehemently denounced the adoption of the Treaty without consulting the people. The unilateral secession of Kosovo from Serbia was condemned and concern was expressed about its consequences.
The attack on labour and trade union rights is escalating in the name of "modernization", of "competitiveness" and "flexicurity", and in order to ensure the profits of capital. The unacceptable court decisions regarding the cases of "LAVAL" and "Viking Lines" must be strongly denounced as they run against the elementary right to strike and the trade union liberties. Working people are becoming more and more concerned about the situation that is being created regarding labour relations, salaries, pensions, the rise of prices, social security, and workplace accidents; about the handing over of education and the health and welfare systems to big capital; about the intensification of exploitation, the growth in unemployment, and the increasingly repressive measures against immigrants. They have become alarmed by the attacks on small farmers, the self-employed, craftsmen and tradesmen for the benefit of the monopoly consortiums, by the marked increase in anti-democratic measures, the upsurge and the state-sponsoring of anti-communism, of racism, of xenophobia. Especially grave are the consequences on the situation of the working people of the new EU countries from Eastern Europe.
Working people express concern about the aggressiveness of the EU towards the countries of the Mediterranean, of the Middle East and Latin America; about the imposition of measures against the rights of working people in accession countries; about the militarization of the EU and its collaboration with NATO and the US in imperialist wars and intervention; about the armaments race, the establishment of the US "anti-missile shield" and the return of the option of a first nuclear strike.
Developments in the EU vindicate the forces that opposed the Treaties of Maastricht, of Nice, of Amsterdam. That had said ‘NO’ to the EMU, the Schengen Treaty, and the "EU Constitution". They vindicate all those who today continue to fight against the European Union of big capital, a directorate of the big, neo-liberal and militaristic powers. In this way our parties contributed, and will continue to do so, to the strengthening of the people’s challenge to the EU, thus keeping alive the hope for a different future.
Nowadays the impasse of neoliberal policies has become tangible. There can be no solutions in favour of the people without disputing the Maastricht Treaty and the "4 freedoms" that are enshrined within it (free circulation of capital, commodities, services and workforce). Social-democracy and its allies, the "centre-left" have been tested as well. The people have accumulated significant experience; they realize that these forces do not represent an alternative in line with their interests.
Today, the need for a real alternative in opposition to big capital and imperialism becomes imperative; an alternative which would keep the door open for a rupture with the process of European capitalist integration and for the socialist perspective. Through the important struggles of the working class, the left and progressive forces and the anti-imperialist movements the possibility of a different situation, of a Europe of equal cooperation, of social and economic progress, and of peace emerges even more powerfully. It was emphasized that the struggle should be stepped up:
For a strong NO to the Lisbon Treaty. Support for the "NO" campaign in Ireland
For the right of every people to decide upon their destiny and path of development, with full sovereignty. This right includes the right of disassociation from the EMU, the EU and NATO as well as the socialist option.
Against a new enlargement and expansion of NATO. For the removal of all US & NATO military bases and the dissolution of NATO. Against the deployment of the US Cold War-like "anti-missile shield".
Against the Bolkenstein Directive, "flexicurity", precarious work and labour relations. For a 35-Hour workweek (7 hours per day, 5 days per week) and substantial salary and pension increases in accordance with contemporary needs and the accumulation of social wealth. Against the logic of limiting the workers’ demands to "a minimum".
Opposing the privatization drive in the energy sector, transport, the infrastructure, and other public services. For people’s ownership and control over the natural resources and the strategic sectors of their economies.
Against the privatization of social security and for free-of-charge access to a universal public healthcare system. For a decrease in the age of retirement and substantial pensions rises. For free- of-charge access to upgraded public education, against the Bologna process and the invasion of capital in the educational system.
Demanding support for the small and medium farmers and for food security.
Against the European Army, the Common Foreign Security Policy, the doctrine of pre-emptive wars. Withdrawal of all troops serving in imperialist missions abroad (Iraq, Afghanistan, Balkans, Africa).
Against anti-communism, bans on Communist Parties, persecutions and detentions of communists and other militants. Protesting against the rewriting of history, the rehabilitation of Nazism-fascism, as well as the unacceptable situation vis-à-vis the "non-citizens" in Latvia, Estonia and Slovenia.
Opposing the so-called "anti-terrorist" measures, repressive and surveillance bodies and mechanisms, the curtailment of democratic rights and the limitations on trade union and political activities. Against the "Fortress Europe" - full rights for immigrant workers.
In defence of socialist Cuba; for the abolition of the "common position" on Cuba. Solidarity with the peoples of Palestine, Venezuela, Bolivia and all peoples that struggle.
Against the unjust free trade agreements that the EU is imposing on the countries of Africa, Mediterranean and Latin America.
The participants exchanged opinions on ways promote further the common action and cooperation in the various fronts of struggle and in face of the elections for the European Parliament of 2009.
Athens, March 15, 2008
List of Participants
Workers' Party of Belgium
Communist Party of Britain
New Communist Party of Britain
Communist Party of Bulgaria
Party of the Bulgarian Communists
Communist Party of Bohemia Moravia
Communist Party in Denmark
Communist Party of Estonia
Communist Party of Greece
German Communist Party (DKP)
Hungarian Workers' Communist Party
Communist Party of Ireland
The Workers' Party of Ireland
Socialist Party of Latvia
Communist Party of Luxembourg
New Communist Party of the Netherlands
Communist Party of Poland
Portuguese Communist Party
Communist Party of Slovakia
Communist Party of Spain
Communist Party of Peoples of Spain
Communist Party of Turkey
Pole of Communist Rebirth In France (PRCF)
Review "L'Ernesto", Italy
Hermes Herrera Hernandez, Ambassador of Cuba in Greece