EU debate: “the EU is simply conforming to the neoliberal architecture of its DNA”

Brian Parkin continues the debate on the EU, arguing for a vote to leave the EU. This is an edited version of an article that appeared in the lasted issue of the Leeds publication Northern Star. 

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For many socialists the issue of a forthcoming referendum on the EU poses some dilemmas. On the one hand a racist and xenophobic UKIP are as against the EU as are the anti-immigration wing of the Tories. On the other then, it would seem, are the advocates of tolerance who would like to see a free movement of labour, and with it, a commitment to a liberal and multi-cultural Europe. So where is the problem?

Greece: the EU as instrument of austerity

Firstly, there is the immediate issue of Greece. When the Eurozone formed in 2001 , economically weaker countries of southern Europe (and Ireland) were allowed into the Eurozone trap on the basis of a falsified evaluation of their economies.

14 years and the biggest recession since 1931, later, these economies have become crippled with debt. The only prescription for this is an EU imposed regime of quite merciless and punitive austerity. Greece is the first sacrificial victim in this gruesome process and rather than accept further austerity and the unbearable social miseries it will inevitably bring, the Syriza government may resist to the point of being driven out of the Eurozone- and even the European Union itself.


For many people with illusions in the EU this crisis poses some problems – not least of which will be coming to terms with what the EU is really all about.

From its inception as the European Coal and Steel Communities the European project was always going to be one of enshrined competition and ‘liberally’ managed markets. Regional and social considerations were factored in to ensure a ‘social peace’ conducive to capitalist accumulation but in real terms were always secondary.

Now for many advocates of the ‘liberal’ EU the argument is about how to reform a noble enterprise that has somehow been hijacked by neoliberal fundamentalists. But this naïve illusion fails to accept that in its current austerity mode the EU is simply conforming to the neoliberal architecture of its DNA.

Immigration YES! Capitalism NO!

Within weeks Greece could be ejected from the EU, but not before its workers and the poorest have been reduced to penury on the altar of euro-capitalism. The answer for socialists in such an event is clear. Solidarity with any Greek government prepared to resist the predations of a vengeful EU. And opposition to all those racists and xenophobes who want to use the excuse of the EU to peddle their toxic delusions.


  1. A clear and simple argument is presented here. But in the end, the answers provided are to the wrong questions, which is quite telling. The question we will be having to answer is “The EU, ‘Yes’ or ‘No'”. Saying ‘No’ to capitalism is not on the agenda, as whether Britain stays or leaves the EU, it will still be capitalist Britain. A simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to immigration isn’t on the cards, either, because those leading the main campaigns to stay or to leave both spout anti-migrant prejudice and policies (UKIP as a matter of principle, and Cameron more as a matter of tactics) and there are staunch defenders of migrant’s rights in both the remain and the leave camps. The real question to be answered is more concrete and historical. It is would the interests of working class people in Britain, here and now, in 2016, not 1975 be served by victory for UKIP and the Euro-Sceptic Tory Right, and anti-foreigner bigotry, or not? I believe not.


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