The European Union and the issue of the accession of semi-colonial countries

Resolution of the Revolutionary Communist Organization for the Liberation (Austrian section of the RCIT), 14.10.2012


1.            The European Union (EU) is an imperialist alliance – on the economic, political and military level. It is dominated by the rich, imperialist countries (in particular Western European countries like Germany, France, Italy, Great Britain, Austria etc.). It also encompasses poorer, semi-colonial countries (like Ireland, Greece, Cyprus, Malta, and the countries of Eastern Europe such as Poland, Romania, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, etc.). These semi-colonial countries make up more than half of the EU-27 member states and inhabit 119 million people, almost a quarter of the EU population. The EU is first and foremost dominated by the imperialist powers Germany and France, amongst which Germany is the primus inter pares. Furthermore, the EU is an expression of the fact that the productive forces are reaching beyond the boundaries of nation states and the capitalists – if they do not want loose in global competition – can ensure a profit-making production only in the international arena.


2.            The purpose of the European Union is to defend and expand the power of the – in the global context relatively weak – imperialist states of Europe against the United States, Japan, as well as against China and Russia. It also serves the goals of the European capitalists to create a larger European market for the monopolies and to increase the exploitation of the semi-colonies. Therefore it is a thoroughly reactionary alliance that serves the interests of monopoly capital.

The EU worsens the situation of people living in their semi-colonial peoples. It affects their national independence and thus a number of bourgeois democratic rights and increases their economic exploitation. The EU is therefore a "double-imperialist" alliance: on the one hand, it serves to exploit the semi-colonies in Asia, Africa and Latin America and on the other hand it serves the exploitation and oppression of the semi-colonies which are part of the EU. For the semi-colonial countries, an EU accession is therefore a step towards colonization; it limits their national independence and subordinates them increasingly more and direct under the imperialist monopolies!


3.            The over-exploitation of semi-colonial EU countries by the imperialist monopolies takes by and large four main forms.

i) The corporations make extra profits by relocating their production facilities in these countries and the exploitation of relatively cheaper labor;

ii) Banks and other financial institutions make extra profits by growing indebtedness of the semi-colonial EU countries;

iii) The value transfer from the semi-colonies towards the metropolises by unequal exchange;

iv) Finally, there is also a value transfer in the form of migration, i.e. the import of comparatively cheaper labor from the semi-colonial EU countries in the imperialist metropolises.


4.            The EU is currently in a very unstable situation. On the one hand it is being shaken by the global economic crisis and it is facing a working class that has carved out a historically relatively high living standard and is very well organized. On the other hand, the EU is a federation of states and not a federal state. This means that the imperialist bourgeoisie in Europe still don't have a centralized capitalist state apparatus. But only by such an apparatus, they could enforce even more powerful their position over their imperialist rivals, as well as the working class and the oppressed peoples both domestically and globally. This highly contradictory situation exacerbated enormously the conflicts and contradictions between the ruling classes of the individual European nation-states.


5.            This situation cannot continue indefinitely. The ruling classes of the EU have to find a (at least temporary) solution in one way or another. Roughly outlined, there can be several outcomes:

a.            The EU falls apart and is again divided into many national states. This would lead to a further worsening of the economic crisis and contribute to a strengthening of the bourgeois nationalist and fascist forces. Such a development would make it virtually impossible for the capitalist class of Germany, France, etc., to compete with the U.S., China, Japan and Russia in the struggle for world domination. This is by far the most unlikely development.

b.            The EU splits into a south-eastern and north-western part. A "core EU" under Franco-German leadership remains, the rest is divided into nation-states or agrees to form a loose "Commonwealth"-Alliance together.

c.             The EU continues to exist by making a qualitative step towards the development of a centralized European imperialist state apparatus.


6.            It is likely that there will be no "pure" solution for the capitalist class in Europe, but rather a combination of several possibilities. Either way, the capitalists must launch a determined attack on the rights of the workers to impose their interests.. They will try to cut our wages, to abolish the minimum wage, to raise the retirement age, to cut or to cancel unemployment benefits, to lift the taxes for the masses (VAT, fuel tax, ...) and to undertake massive cuts in the education, health and social system. They will also restrict our democratic rights, strengthen the repressive apparatus and increasingly organize imperialist military interventions. It is necessary for the capitalist class to crush the majority of the gains that the working class has carved out in the last 50-90 years. Greece serves as a "testing ground": all maneuvers (e.g. mass redundancies and wage cuts) that are made by the EU and their supporters in Greece, all the considerations that various mouthpieces of the bourgeoisie address today (e.g. military coup) – these are the concrete EU plans the coming years and decades.


7.            For the working class in Europe, none of these three aforementioned development opportunities is an alternative. They are all equally reactionary and therefore must be rejected. The only progressive alternative, for which we fight so as revolutionary communists, is: The EU must be eliminated by a revolution of the working class (in Eastern and Southeastern Europe, in alliance with the poor peasants) and be replaced by the formation of the United Socialist States of Europe.


8.            Since the European Union is an imperialist alliance, it can not be reformed. We therefore support the revolutionary break-up of the EU. This means that we are advocating the break-up of the EU through the revolutionary seizure power by the working class (in Eastern and South-Eastern Europe in alliance with the poor peasantry). This will probably first take place in one country and has then to spread, rather sooner than later, throughout Europe. The goal is the establishment of the United Socialist States of Europe. This is the perspective for all European countries, regardless of whether they have an imperialist and semi-colonial character.


9.            This task requires amongst other things a correct political tactic of the workers on the question of the accession of individual countries to the EU. Since not all European countries have the same class character, our concrete tactics towards the EU membership must vary in different countries.

a.            In the imperialist countries that are EU member states, the working class vanguard has to the fight against "their" own imperialist country (i.e. the German working class against imperialist Germany, the French working class against imperialist France, the Austrian working class against imperialist Austria etc.) as well as against the imperialist EU as such. We say: "Neither imperialist EU, nor imperialist nation-state but international class struggle for the United Socialist States of Europe!" We reject the slogan of an exit of the imperialist nation-state of the EU. An "independent" imperialist nation-state is not more progressive for the working class than being part of the imperialist EU. At the same time we don't advocate the country’s membership in the EU. We firmly reject any nationalist campaign calling for an exit to these countries from the EU – regardless if it is undertaken by Stalinist and reformist forces or, even worse, by right-wing forces. Such campaigns of nationalist right-wing forces are usually also combined with attacks against migrants and asylum seekers and must be therefore rejected out of principle. In the case of Stalinist or other reformist we see petty-bourgeois nationalist slogans that are hidden under the cover of an alleged anti-imperialist policy directed against the EU. This is nothing but a dead end for the development of a revolutionary consciousness and a living internationalism of our class. Instead they promote a false identification with the ruling class in their own country, blurring the clear boundaries which have to be drawn between oppressive imperialist countries and oppressed semi-colonial countries, and they promote jingoism and false patriotism in the ranks of the labor movement.

Revolutionary communists in an imperialist EU country must support the wish of a semi-colonial country for an exit from the EU. At the same time they must combat all nationalism of "their" country who wants to prohibit semi-colonial countries to join the EU, or want to throw them out from the EU. As revolutionary communist workers we emphasize that this decision must be made primarily in those countries themselves. Similarly important for communists in imperialist countries is the solidarity with the people who are being exploited by "their" imperialism and the support for their resistance against their "own" state (e.g. in France especially with the peoples of northwest Africa; in Austria with the peoples of the Balkans and Eastern Europe; the same is the case in the nations which are attacked by the EU powers such as Afghanistan). Furthermore it is also important for every revolutionary organization to organize migrants from these countries.

We say to the workers that during the process of taking power by the working class, an exit from the EU is undoubtedly a necessary step (i.e. it can be part of the program of a workers' government). However we do not raise this slogan as a separate demand before the occurrence of such a revolutionary situation. The slogan for exit has no independent role, since the imperialist nation-states are not at all nationally oppressed by the EU. We do not advocate an "independent" imperialist state and we refuse to defend it. The task of the working class of these countries is the socialist revolution. While the national liberation of oppressed minorities in these countries (e.g. migrants, Basques in Spain, etc.) is of course part of the program of permanent revolution, these imperialist countries as such are no subject to any national oppression.

b.            The conditions are different in semi-colonial countries that are part of the EU: Here we are in favor of an exit of the EU. The demand for an exit from the EU is part of the program for the socialist revolution as a legitimate democratic, anti-imperialist slogan, like many other democratic slogans (e.g. abolition of national discrimination, equal rights for women, etc.). It is therefore a slogan which we raise already today, regardless of the current possibility of seizing power of the working class.

Which alternative to an EU membership do we advocate as revolutionary communists? We combine the slogan of national independence of this semi-colonial country of the EU, with a socialist perspective, i.e. we advocate the establishment of the working class rule in alliance with the poor peasants and the urban poor. (In this regard, we use the same approach as in those cases where we support the secession of oppressed nations from oppressing nations – for example, for a workers 'and peasants' republic in Tamil Eelam, in Chechnya or Kurdistan). But just as we defend these nations against their oppressors even if they build their own state under capitalist conditions, so will we defend a semi-colonial EU states after its exit from the EU under capitalist conditions.

Our goal, however, is not an independent semi-colonial capitalist nation-state but a socialist workers 'and peasants' republic. Similarly, a revolutionary communist organization must combine that slogan with the perspective of the United Socialist States of Europe, if it does not want to slip into the petty-bourgeois nationalism.

We advocate the permanent revolution, which is directed on the one hand against the foreign, imperialist companies which exploit the masses and suppress and on the other hand against its "own" capitalists who collaborate with these corporations and also exploit the working men and women. We reject bourgeois nationalist forces who seek to leave the EU on a national-isolated, capitalist basis and we reject a united front for this goal with them.

c.             In semi-colonial countries that are not part of the EU (Balkans, Turkey, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Iceland), revolutionary communists must fight against EU membership. We combine this slogan with the slogan of the United Socialist States of Europe and the struggle for the rule of the working class, in alliance with the poor peasantry. We oppose an alliance with bourgeois nationalist forces to fight against accession to the EU. It is the task of the working class - and not the national bourgeoisie - to resolve the democratic and national question in these countries and it is also the only class that is capable of doing it.

We argue therefore for a workers' united front of trade unions, labor parties, and so on, to fight against EU membership. Of course, there may be short-term agreements and agreements with (petty-) bourgeois forces, but in general we reject that. In case of a possible referendum on EU membership we would call for a vote against accession.

While the (petty-) bourgeois opponents of EU membership stand for a nationally narrow-minded perspective of all-class encompassing fatherland, our alternative to an EU membership is the international class struggle. This means that we advocate – regardless of whether the particular semi-colonial country is part of the EU or not – the joint international resistance of the workers’ organizations, joint cross-border demonstrations and strikes, etc. We advocate the opening of the EU external borders for migrants, for international collective agreements in multinational corporations etc.

d.            In imperialist countries that are not part of the EU (Switzerland, Norway), revolutionary communist organizations must take a defeatist position about a possible accession. This means that they are neither for the imperialist EU nor for the imperialist nation-state, neither for nor against joining the EU, but for the class struggle at the national and international levels and combine this with the goal of the United Socialist States of Europe. In case of a possible referendum on EU membership they should call for a boycott. We call on the workers' movement of these countries to combine a defeatist position about a possible EU accession with a campaign against any chauvinism in their own ranks.


10.          In the ranks of the labor movement in the imperialist countries a strong chauvinism against the semi-colonial countries of the EU exists. This becomes especially apparent on issues like the opening of the labor market or other immigration issues. We combine our position on the EU with slogans like opening of the borders and the right for migrants to work and live in the EU regardless if they are EU citizens or not! We call for the immediate abolition of all asylum and migration laws. We also call on the workers' movement to take up these demands and combine it with a broad campaign against any chauvinism in their own ranks. Especially the chauvinism in the imperialist countries against the semi-colonial countries (like the denunciations of the supposedly "lazy Greeks") must be sharply opposed by the labor movement! Since the leadership of the workers movement is closely connected with sectors of the ruling class, the struggle against chauvinism has to be combined with the organizing of the rank and file in the unions and the workers organization. With such organs of rank and file organization it is possible to challenge the misleaderships in the workers movement and to replace them with the revolutionary self-organization with its own democratically elected and at any time recallable leaders from the ranks of the ordinary workers. The way towards the international unification of our class is only possible through the path of consistent struggle against all imperialist arrogance and thus against every element of chauvinism in the ranks of the workers movement.


11.          We struggle in all countries against the attacks by the EU. We fight in Europe against the reform treaties that strengthen the power of the capitalist state apparatus and undermine our rights. We fight against the militarization of the EU and a joint EU army. We call for the European-wide (and global) unity of the workers, for cross-border class struggle, joint trade unions, etc. We call upon the European Trade Union Confederation, all unions and workers' organizations and parties in Europe, on the one hand to fight against the attacks on the rights of workers and on the other hand to mobilize against the imperialist EU. We must fight against the continuing exploitation and oppression of the semi-colonies in Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America at the places of their origins – namely, Berlin, Paris, London, Rome, Vienna and Brussels!

It is the task of the working class, to bring this continent – which has already integrated together economically long ago, which was divided by two world wars and from which new imperialist offensives are planned today – under its rule and transform it into a stronghold of the world revolution. This goal can only be achieved under the leadership of a World Party of Socialist Revolution – the Fifth International! The RCIT and the RKOB as its Austrian section are dedicated to this goal!


* For international class struggle against the attacks of the ruling class in the EU!

* In the semi-colonial countries of Europe we raise the slogans: No to EU-colonialism! Out of the EU respectively no accession! Defense of national independence as part of the struggle for the United Socialist States of Europe!

* In the imperialist countries of Europe we raise the slogans: Neither imperialist nation-state nor imperialist EU – neither is a "lesser evil"! For the Socialist United States of Europe!

* For the revolutionary break-up of the EU through the working class!