Year 2000 No. 28, February 16, 2000

Intergovernmental Conference Convenes in Brussels

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index : Discuss

Intergovernmental Conference Convenes in Brussels

Letter of Congratulations to Comrade Kim Jong Il on the Occasion of his 58th Birthday

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Intergovernmental Conference Convenes in Brussels

The Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) of the member states of the European Union was officially convened in Brussels on Monday. Its stated purpose is to prepare the institutions of the EU to allow for enlargement. It is scheduled to continue its work until December this year.

Its terms of reference are defined as follows: to consider the size and composition of the European Commission, the weighting of the Member States’ votes and the possible extension of qualified-majority voting within the Council. Further amendments to the Amsterdam Treaty may be considered where they relate to the way the EU institutions function. This means to say that the "weighting" of the votes of the big power states – Britain, France and Germany – may be increased to offset the effect of the influx of new members and ensure that the big powers do not get outvoted. What is also under consideration is that this method of voting, the "qualified-majority voting", be extended at the expense of the arrangement where each member state has an equal vote. This may be particularly the case with the Commission, which currently votes in secret on a simple majority. The member states could then all have one commissioner each. At present, the larger states have two commissioners. Britain, for example, has Chris Patten and Neil Kinnock.

At present there are six candidate member states as the European Union is set to expand eastwards to the borders of the former member states of the Soviet Union. These candidates are Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, Estonia and Cyprus. A further seven states have been accepted as being able to apply for membership, the largest of which is Turkey.

Robin Cook yesterday made a statement in the House of Commons supporting the enlargement to coincide with the publication of a government White Paper, "Reform for Enlargement". He made no secret of Britain’s enthusiasm for an enlarged European Union dominated by the values of liberalisation and the free market, of a multi-party parliamentary system, and rights based on private ownership of the means of production being paramount. These Anglo-American and Eurocentric economic and political systems and the values which they embody are becoming ever more familiar in their repetition by the Robin Cooks and Madeleine Albrights, buoyed up by their ill-founded belief that history is going their way.

Robin Cook said in his statement: "Throughout Central and Eastern Europe, countries that have only recently emerged from a centralised state and a command economy are making heroic efforts and taking painful decisions to prepare themselves for membership of the European Union." He spelled out why it is in "our" interest – that is, the interests of the bourgeoisie of Britain – that these countries "face up to the conditions of membership". It is, he said, "Not only because they will be better trading partners for British exporters and investors. But because the reforms they have to make are of direct benefit to us." He was being disingenuous when he gave as an example that three of the candidates, as a condition of membership, are "committed to the early closure of nuclear reactors which do not meet our standards of safety". Robin Cook undoubtedly also had other reforms in mind, but even here the chauvinism that the "British" are superior shines through. He went on: "Europe must also embrace economic reform to meet the challenge of competitiveness in a global age," taking up the theme of globalisation that runs through the foreign policy which the Labour government is developing.

Robin Cook was also at pains to stress the importance of the big powers being able to throw their weight around, and flout the democratic principle that in an international forum, each member state should participate on an equal basis. This alone goes a long way to exposing the European Union as a bloc of the European monopolies, as a tool in their hands, a reality that is only obscured by any talk of a "People’s Europe", which, however, does not much pass Robin Cook’s lips these days. Cook clearly dreams of a British domination of Europe, as is confirmed by his stated megalomanic foreign policy of "stronger in Europe, stronger in the world".

So in his statement, the Foreign Secretary said, "Britain welcomes the opportunity of enlargement for institutional reform. For the United Kingdom, the most pressing of these reforms is to increase the share of our vote in the Council of Ministers. France, Germany and Britain contain a majority of the population of the Union but together have only a minority of the votes in the Council. After enlargement, they will not even be a blocking minority. We will be seeking a fairer [sic!] voting system in the Council of Ministers which gives more democratic recognition to the population of Britain." He went on, "As a first step in containing the size of the Commission, we are prepared to consider that the larger countries should retain only one Commissioner. This would enable the smaller countries each to retain their own Commissioner, at least through the first wave of enlargement. However, I stress that we see these two measures as a package. The larger member states cannot be expected to give up their second Commissioner if they are not given a larger weight of votes in the Council of Ministers." He deals with the issue of situations which at present require unanimity among the member states. He says, "There is double the risk of decisions being blocked if there are double the number of other countries round the table with a veto. Those decisions that are blocked may well be decisions that are in Britain’s national interest and on which we want agreement."

Having dealt with the risk that equality between all states might break out in the enlarged EU, Robin Cook then rejoices in the prospect of a "Reunion of Europe". The result of such a reunion "will be a Union that stretches from Portugal to Poland. A single market of five hundred million consumers with a combined GDP of five thousand billion pounds – the largest single market anywhere in the world." Such a vision, which is almost Hitlerite in its resonances, the Foreign Secretary finds very exciting. This is because, "We have no doubt that faced with the prospect of a wider united Europe Britain’s place is playing a leading part in it and shaping its direction." It is because "it is in the national interest of Britain to be both a leading advocate of enlargement and a leading partner in a reformed and reunited Europe".

Having agreed to consolidate its Common Foreign and Security Policy at the Helsinki Summit last December, which gave impetus to the European Union also developing as a military superpower, the EU with its IGC is now preparing to consolidate itself even further as a united political and economic bloc in the conditions of escalating globalisation. The point is, who is to dominate this Europe of the monopolies. This is where the contention between the big powers is extremely fierce. To dominate Europe is potentially to dominate the globe. Robin Cook salivates at the prospect, but should also know that other powers too – the US, Germany, France – have their ambitions in this direction. Is Robin Cook leaving out of his reckoning also the growing power of Asia, of Japan, of China? It is certain that Cook is aware of the importance of pacifying any opposition at home to his ambitions, which are redolent of a 19th century imperialist power. But here also he leaves out of the reckoning the repugnance of the working class to chauvinism, to exploitation and its aspiration for justice, equality and socialism. The working class is opposed to globalisation and to the European Union of the monopolies, but it upholds internationalism, the equality of nations, and the right of peoples to self-determination. All democratic people must intensify their opposition to the reactionary enlargement of the European Union, and Britain’s role within it, which is gathering apace.

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Letter of Congratulations to Comrade Kim Jong Il on the Occasion of his 58th Birthday

February 15, 2000 (Juche 89)

Kim Jong Il
General Secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea
Chairman of the National Defence Commission of
the Democratic People's Republic of Korea

Dear Comrade Kim Jong Il,

It is with the greatest pleasure that, on my own behalf and on behalf of our Central Committee, I convey to you on your 58th birthday on February 16 our warmest congratulations and heartfelt good wishes for your health and continued success in your great work.

In the past week it has been my privilege to meet in Paris at the Presidency of CILRECO the delegation from your country and Party. We were overjoyed to hear the latest news from Korea, in particular to hear not only of the unbending stand of the DPRK in defence of its sovereignty in the face of continuing provocation but of the great efforts which have meant that the worst of the economic difficulties have been overcome. This is a tribute to the heroic people of the DPRK, to their Party and to your own wise leadership. In the dangerous situation where US imperialism and other imperialist powers, including Britain, have stepped up their efforts to impose their dictate on the entire world, following the medieval concept of "Might Makes Right", labelling all who refuse to bow the knee as "rogue" states, the heroic stand of the people of the DPRK in defence of their sovereignty, their chosen socialist system and their cherished aspiration of reunification of the homeland is an inspiration to all people in struggle for their rights and freedom. In this they stick to the path laid down by the great leader Kim Il Sung, according to the Juche idea which you yourself played such an important role in developing.

Once again, warmest congratulations. Please be assured of our continued support fighting shoulder to shoulder in our countries for the shared goal of socialism, the future of humankind.

With warmest regards.

Chris Coleman
National Spokesperson RCPB(ML)

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