The people are roused into action, the European Parliament turns its back

10 December 2018

The people are roused into action, the European Parliament turns its back

I know: everyone's now writing about the Gilets Jaunes, the 'Yellow Vests' in France, but I can't avoid doing so. Though I wrote just two weeks ago an article for our party magazine comparing the merrily dancing europhile students to the heated atmosphere amongst the 90%, the growing protests of the Yellow Vests have exploded into life rather sooner than I had expected. And of course the European Union is a factor in this. With 100% support from the member state governments who are just as responsible for this, the EU has pursued a policy dictated by the multinationals. In France the dancing students have been suddenly replaced by large numbers of other students angered by the spending cuts and commercialisation affecting education. This is thanks to the EU which since the Bologna Declaration of 1999 have advocated the 'reform', and therefore the selling off, of education.

The protests concern many different subjects: insecure jobs, stagnating purchasing power, the millionaires who are growing ever richer, crisis or no crisis. In every area of policy the European Union is in a sorry state, because the banking crisis has been resolved via an austerity policy directed by the EU. Public services must be put on to the market, and if that's impossible, stripped to the bone. And yet there are still many MEPs who expect nothing but good from unbridled marketisation. Next week there will even be a resolution presented which boldly asserts that billions and billions could be gained if the single internal market were completed. Not a word on inequality, not a word on the fact that such a market's principal gains would go to the multinationals, and not a word about the race to the bottom in social and fiscal policy.

The Yellow Vests aren't keen on the EU. They don't dance with European flags. They've had enough of globalisation, of the increasing power of the multinationals. The street is fighting back. And though the views differ so much between the protesters, and though all the protests are not equally violent, Brussels would do well to think about what the EU means for ordinary people. That should mean, for example, a little less gaudy luxury, somewhat more respect for the public services which are there for all of us, and an eye for the excesses of marketisation. Until now the European Parliament in Brussels has been hermetically sealed from the Yellow Vests. But the people always win in the end. That's why I tweeted that the Gilets Jaunes will be welcome next week in Strasbourg. And if they're not allowed in, then we'll go and look for them outside. They should be welcomed with open arms in the EP, which is supposed to represent the people, rather than excluded out of fears for security.

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