The European Union cannot be reformed in the interests of the workers and peoples of Europe, insisted an international panel of speakers at the huge ‘Avante!’ festival near Lisbon, Portugal, at the weekend.

Neoklis Sylikiotis of Progressive Party of the Working People of Cyprus (AKEL) told the open-air meeting on Saturday evening that the EU had produced a Europe in which 16 million workers were unemployed – more than 7 per cent in the euro area – and 110m people lived in poverty, while the EU Commission-European Central Bank-IMF ‘Troika’ had imposed sweeping austerity and privatisation measures in order to bail out the banks.

‘The EU is not a model of “democracy” and “freedom” – its policies are decided by the lobbies of the multinational corporations’, he declared. ‘Elected national governments are confronted with blatant threats and blackmail, while referendums are ignored or repeated until people vote in line with the wishes of the EU. Instead of “solidarity”, higher walls are built, thousands of people drown in the Mediterranean and an entire army of border guards is being set up to keep refugees out of “Fortress Europe”‘, he added. Mr Sylikiotis is a Political Bureau member of AKEL, whose vote rose to almost 28 per cent in the recent EU Parliamentary election. His speech highlighted the recent militarisation of the EU resulting from the pro-NATO Lisbon Treaty and he also called for the EU’s imperialist policies in Latin America, Africa and the Greater Middle East to be exposed.

Representing the newly reformed Italian Communist Party, Fabio Fasquinelli, pointed out that a referendum in his country in 2011 had shown 90 per cent opposition to any further privatisation of public services. This was followed by a massive attack on Italian state and provincial bonds in the financial markets and the replacement of the Italian government by an unelected pro-privatisation junta headed by former EU Commissioner Mario Monti. ‘The ICP is based on three clear Noes – no to the euro, no to the EU and no to NATO!’, he announced. Communist Party of Britain general secretary Robert Griffiths outlined the struggle to implement the 2016 referendum result as a ‘battle for popular sovereignty’. His party wanted a ‘full Brexit’ and a General Election so that a future left-led government in Britain could implement policies free from the pro-big business rules of the EU Single Market and Customs Union.

Bert De Belder from the Workers Party of Belgium, which has made major gains in recent local, national and European elections, gave examples of where recent privatisations and redundancies in his country had been sustained by EU treaties and rules. Chairing the meeting, newly elected MEP for the Portuguese Communist Party Sandra Pereira made clear the PCP’s position: ‘The EU is not the Europe we want, which is a Europe of sovereign countries, of the peoples and the workers – not the European Union of big capital’.

The Avante! festival organised by the weekly paper of the PCP continued into Sunday and attracted more than a hundred thousand people – many of them young – to a carnival of music, food and politics.


Communist Party of Britain