The Future of the Euro Area

Published on The Bullet, Socialist Project’s E-Bulletin no 1318, by Frederic Heine and Thomas Sablowski, Oct 21, 2016.

The unequal development of the countries of the euro area since the outbreak of the crisis is causing increasing friction that threatens to tear the monetary union apart. Contrary to what many critics of the monetary union suggest, responsibility for this development lies not alone with its internal structure, but is rather a general feature of capitalist development. It is illusory to believe that under the dominance of the capitalist mode of production a spatially even development would ever be possible. Rather, the current monetary regime reinforces the cycles of capitalist crisis … //

… Two Options for the Future, and Four Scenarios: … //

… 4. Re-foundation of Europe under an anti-neoliberal and socialist hegemony:

Neoliberal principles are so deeply ingrained into the EU treaties and the monetary union that a rupture with neoliberalism automatically implies a rupture with the EU treaties and monetary union in its current form. When more countries break away, the easier it becomes for further countries to do so. Asynchronic national political developments, however, pose the greatest difficulty here. If a number of countries were to break with the neoliberal EU treaties, this would not necessarily lead to nationalist isolation and competitive devaluation, but could instead create the space for the re-foundation of Europe.

A re-foundation of Europe would be hard to implement in the current EU framework, because changes to the EU treaties require consensus among all EU member states. A single country can veto progressive changes to the treaties. This would obviously find the support of the ruling classes of all countries. It is therefore illusory to believe that a left-wing government in Germany or even left-wing governments in the central EU countries would have the power to enforce such treaty changes.

The German government’s current power in the EU is based on the support of German capital. This would no longer be the case, if Germany had a left-wing government. Changing the EU treaties in a progressive direction would require a simultaneous revolt and switch of government in all countries, which is a highly unrealistic scenario. More likely are successive ruptures in a number of countries and subsequent alliances between the left-wing governments of these countries and social movements. These alliances could lay the foundations for a new solidarity-based form of European integration. In our view, this is the most desirable scenario, yet also the hardest to achieve. It would require a hegemony of anti-neoliberal and/or socialist forces in each country.

Whether the left can become hegemonic also depends on the degree to which it can prevent divisions, such as the division between the so-called eurosceptics and the pro-European left. Whilst the question over whether it is necessary to exit the monetary union and/or the EU currently divides the left, there is general agreement in the criticism of austerity policies, the EU’s refugee policy and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Emancipatory forces should therefore explore the possibilities for joint action, even if their approaches to European policy goals and strategies differ. Initially this would require further struggles against the crises strategies of the German government and of the fractions of capital that are focused on the world market, i.e. against austerity policies, privatization, the dismantlement of workers’ rights, and the planned free trade agreements. These struggles will need to be coordinated more strongly at the European level than they have been before. To the extent that these struggles are successful, it will also become possible to develop and to implement from below a joint programme for a different Europe.

(full text).

(Frederic Heine is a political scientist and activist, and researcher with the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung in Berlin. 
Thomas Sablowski works at the Institute for Critical Social Analysis of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation. He is also a member of editorial board of the journal PROKLA and a member of the scientific advisory board of ATTAC Germany


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