The EU: remain and transform

Submitted by AWL on 6 November, 2019 - 10:28

Some significant workers’ rights are in EU law, such as the TUPE regulations that protect some of our contract terms when we are transferred between employers.

We want strengthening of these rights and new ones too. We demand Europe-wide rules for safe, healthy workplaces free from discrimination and mistreatment, and a legally enforced shorter working week with no loss of pay.

The economic integration of the EU has produced some “levelling-up” of wages. The gap between Spanish wages, or Polish wages, and German wages, is smaller now than when Spain or Poland joined the EU. But that process is slow and uncertain.

We want to level up wages across Europe, and to work toward a common mandatory living wage. We fight also to level up social security.

Tony Blair boasted that Britain had (thanks to Margaret Thatcher) “the most restrictive trade union laws anywhere in the western world”. Actually the laws in some East European countries are worse.

We want Europe-wide guarantees for trade union freedoms at work — a guaranteed right to unionise and strike, so that we can secure and enforce better pay and conditions. All the changes we want in Europe depend on the labour movements and left linking up across borders.

We want to defend, and strengthen where they already exist, basic political rights including freedom of expression, freedom of belief, freedom of the press, freedom of association and the right to privacy, as Europe-wide rules.

We fight also for the extension and levelling up of social rights and equality. We want strong anti-discrimination laws across the EU.

We want serious taxes on the incomes, properties, businesses, profits and inheritances of the rich, to create a sizeable EU budget to be used for levelling-up. Regressive taxes like VAT, which take a bigger proportionate slice from the poorest, should be scrapped in favour of progressive taxes for income redistribution.

We want the banking system, high finance, and major utilities taken into public ownership and placed under democratic control, in each country and across the continent.

A banking system has immense power to shape the economy through where it decides to invest and lend — or, through short-term profit-driven decisions, to plunge everyone into financial crises.

The climate emergency is international. It cannot be tackled country-by-country.

We want to defend the EU’s existing environmental regulations and strengthen them in many places. We also want a transition coordinated on a European scale: to break the death-grip of fossil fuel capital and retool the economy to run on a carbon-neutral or even carbon-negative basis.

We want Europe to take its energy industry into public ownership. It must put the workers in control, democratically, alongside the communities they serve.

Freedom of movement across borders within Europe is one of the great boons of the EU. We want Europe also to welcome and accommodate refugees fleeing persecution, violence and destruction. It should open not just its internal borders, but its external borders, to the free movement of people, and grant amnesty to those already living in Europe but lacking documentation.

Europe is currently run mainly by committees of ministers from its member governments, surrounded by a bureaucracy, with the Parliament comparatively weak and toothless. We want to make the EU’s executive institutions accountable and subordinate to a sovereign European Parliament, fully empowered over the Union’s affairs.

Beyond reforms to the existing European Parliament, we propose a democratic and federal United States of Europe.

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