Modern Left shows how European cooperation can still inspire

9 April 2017

Modern Left shows how European cooperation can still inspire

This week I will be accompanying SP Senate leader Tiny Kox and national secretary Hans van Heijningen to a meeting of the ‘Modern Left’ – an informal group of like-minded parties - in Cyprus. Amongst other things we’ll be discussing the left’s answer to social discontent in – and about – the European Union. There’ll be no complicated negotiations around resolutions or final declarations. Our only aim is to inspire each other and together take a stand against the neoliberalism which has the EU and most of its member states firmly in its grip. “Unity in Diversity” is the EU’s official motto. There’s little of that on show in Brussels, but as the Modern Left we are putting the same idea into practice.

Sometimes I’m asked why, if socialists are internationalists, the SP is against European cooperation. How can that be? The answer is actually very simple: of course we aren’t against European cooperation, we’re all in favour of it, provided it’s on the basis of mutual respect and has the interests of ordinary people as its guide. The existing EU remains the plaything of multinationals and of people with a personal interest in handing as much power as possible over to Brussels, people such as the political European Commissioners, though this also applies unfortunately to many MEPs. The more ‘Brussels’, the more powerful they feel.

Throughout all of our actions for transparency regarding the activitis of the professional lobbyists hired by big capital and in favour of the tightening of the rules designed to ensure that other interests count too, we have been trying to free Brussels a bit at a time. And our proposals to curb the eurocrats are well-known: we don’t need the Commission to make legislative proposals. Commissioners should instead be limited to enforcing agreements already made. Instead of political European Commissioners, a Commission of officials.

In this fight we are stronger together than would be the SP on our own. Modern Left consists of a number of likeminded parties, principally but not exclusively from the Nordic countries, each of which has a critical stance towards the existing EU, but which also want nothing to do with a turning back to nationalism. We stand for contact between left activists across borders in a common struggle for decent labour rights and effective environmental policy. This week we’ll be discussing the best ways to achieve these things. Inside or outside government? and with what kind of actions? I’m looking forward to it, because it’s high time we had a vigorous left cooperation the goal of which was the thorough reconstruction of the EU as currently constituted.

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