“Sophia is a military operation with a very political agenda,” said Barbara Spinelli, an Italian MEP and member of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs in the European Parliament. “It has become an instrument of refoulement, legitimizing militias with criminal records, dressed up as coast guards.”
Bruxelles, 11 aprile 2018. Intervento di Barbara Spinelli nel corso della tavola rotonda organizzata dalla Camera Federale del Lavoro austriaca (AK Europa) e dalla Confederazione austriaca dei sindacati (ÖGB) su “The impact of Brexit on workers’ rights”.
- Professor Michael Ford QC – Università di Bristol
- Frances O’Grady – Segretario Generale della Federazione Sindacale britannica (British Trades Union Congress – TUC)
- Erich Foglar – Presidente della Confederazione austriaca dei sindacati (ÖGB
I would like to begin with the hidden agenda of Tory Brexiteers and others, knowing that Brexit is a complex phenomenon: many voters embraced Leave thinking they would get more, not less social rights.
What a majority of right-wingers really dislike in the Union is the web of regulations which are constitutive of the EU. When Theresa May speaks of a global, sovereign Britain, she transmits the false image of a giant power feeling tied down like Gulliver by Lilliputians, and having an only desire: to break free from the continental midgets and get unchained. Gulliver feels “several ligatures across his body”, and the EU with its norms represents the ligature – the name today is red-tape – to discard. Take back control is a mantra of the Brexiteers. The hidden text of the mantra is less democratic control, less obligations concerning workers’ rights.
All this is magical thinking: the EU social fabric has been already deregulated and devastated by years of austerity. Nonetheless, Tory and DUP Brexiteers continue to feel chained and want even less “ligatures” as far as rights are concerned. I refer to the rights deriving from the EU law and applicable not only to EU citizens living in UK and vice-versa, but also to British nationals living in the UK, including Northern Irish citizens who voted remain and have the right, thanks to the Good Friday Agreement, to choose the Irish – i.e. European – citizenship. Getting rid of the Charter of fundamental rights and of the jurisdiction of the European Court of justice is a key ingredient of the hidden agenda.
As I said, the EU is not today a paradise for those who suffer precariousness and exclusion (I prefer the word expulsion, used by Saskia Sassen). It was the EU Court of Justice who ruled, in the Viking Line and Laval cases, that employers’ rights always trump workers’ rights. So did the Alemo-Parkwood case regarding the directive on transfer of undertakings. Jacques Delors admitted the absence of a social dimension in the EU project in his speech given to the TUC Congress in 1988. He said that the single market should not diminish social protections and dismantle the labour market. A neoliberal agenda prevailed instead, privatising public services, cutting down pensions, wages and employment. The climax was reached by Greece’s fiscal waterboarding. The EU citizens’ trust in the Union collapsed: I personally see a strong link between the threatening talks about Grexit and the subsequent Brexit vote. What Delors said in ’89 is still true: “You cannot fall in love with the single market”.
But what is equally true is that workers’ rights will be badly hit by Brexit. A report of the TUC in February 2017 has shown that wages will be 38 pounds a week lower and there are other forecasts which look even grimmer. The EU – included the single market – offers despite all some shield against the market forces: it’s the truth emerged during the Brexit negotiations. Just an example: last November, the same EU Court of justice ruled in favour of a gig economy worker who never got a paid holiday in 13 years. Jason Moyer-Lee, General Secretary of the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain, observed that the judgement was “a striking reminder of the impending disaster for worker rights that is Brexit”. Part time work, work on demand and in general the gig-economy are protected by EU law much more than they will outside the EU, thanks to specific directives: in particular the directive on working times, as well as the directives on annual leaves, equal pay, maternity rights, parental leave, anti-discrimination laws, compensation for discrimination victims, temporary agency work protections, health and safety. The EU has regressed, but workers risk to be less protected without its directives.
I conclude with the loss of rights by the EU citizens in UK and viceversa. Despite Michel Barnier’s statement that there is now “complete agreement” on citizens’ rights, crucial legal uncertainties remain, as stressed by associations like The3Millions and British in Europe. The situation of at least 5 million people will change dramatically after Brexit and will be dependent on the Withdrawal Agreement. Furthermore, the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice for EU citizens in the UK will be time-limited, hence not guaranteeing them the life-long protection which has been explicitly promised to them by the EU negotiator Barnier.
That’s why the European Parliament must do its utmost to ensure that the full set of EU rights will be included in the Withdrawal Agreement. Post-Brexit citizens will be able to rely only on this treaty as a legal reference to protect their rights.
COMUNICATO STAMPA GUE/NGL
Brussels, 26 October 2015
Following the visit of a delegation of five GUE/NGL MEPs to Moscow last week, GUE/NGL is calling for all European and Russian parliamentarians to be removed from the blacklists that were established on both sides earlier this year, and for direct dialogue to be resumed between the EU and Russia.
In Moscow, the GUE/NGL delegation met with representatives of the State Duma, the Federation Council, the Eurasian Economic Commission, the Federation of Independent Trade Unions and civil society activists.
GUE/NGL President, Gabi Zimmer, stated: “For several months now, the official contact between the European Parliament, the State Duma and the Russian Federation Council have been frozen. In view of the dramatic developments in many regions of the world which can only be solved through coordinated policies of the global community, we as the left group in the European Parliament took initiative to contribute to restoring dialogue between the EU and Russia.”
“Parliaments should play a key role in this situation of tense relations between the EU and Moscow. The delegations of the European Parliament and the State Duma must urgently resume their direct dialogue. Therefore, as a first step, we call for the immediate withdrawal of all parliamentarians from the blacklists of the EU and the Russian Federation,” Ms Zimmer continued.
GUE/NGL Vice-President, Neoklis Sylikiotis, commented: “The sanctions that were imposed on Russia by the EU have negative consequences on the people. It is highly important to find a peaceful solution and the parliaments have a very important role to play in this situation. Unfortunately, the sanctions that were imposed on the members of the State Duma exclude any possibility of resuming the direct dialogue with the EU. Therefore, we urge the EU to withdraw the parliamentarians from the blacklist and normalise political relations with Russia.
Italian MEP, Barbara Spinelli, also commented: “The situation we witnessed in Moscow is cause for profound concern. Each initiative of the Russian government – the reaction to NATO expansion at the EU’s Eastern borders in the Ukraine, the Eurasian Economic Community, the Russian military intervention in Syria – is interpreted in Europe as a provocation or a disturbing factor, and this misconception contributes to deep resentment among the Russian elite.”
Ms Spinelli continued: “The Cold War is back, but without the codes of conduct and the deconflicting elements which distinguished it. Instead of a sober evaluation of Russia’s interests, EU member states tend to passively fall in line with the US administration. The post-war ‘roll-back’ doctrine is being revived, rather than Cold War or containment policies. This is perhaps in the interest of the US administration, whose aim is either the preservation of the unipolar world disorder established after the end of the Cold War or improvised bilateral arrangements with Moscow behind Europe’s back. In any case, it’s not in the interest of the European Union”.
Vice–Chair of the EU-Russia Delegation and GUE/NGL MEP, Jiří Maštálka, added: “Apart from high-level political diplomacy we have to support and reinforce popular diplomacy. For example, in the field of culture and science in which there is a long tradition of mutually beneficial relations between the EU and Russia. These include the cooperation with RUDEN (People’s Friendship University of Russia), the student exchange programme with the Volgograd State University, the Erasmus Plus programme, and the common activities of the sister cities of Volgograd, Russia and Ostrava, Czech Republic. Students, young artists and talented scientists must not be taken as hostages of the difficult current political situation”.
German MEP, Helmut Scholz, also participated in the mission to Moscow.
Comunicato stampa GUE/NGL
Enough of too little too late: EU needs a permanent, obligatory and fair mechanism to distribute asylum-seekers
“In reality the European Union does not have a policy for addressing migration, and it is that lack of policy that is partly responsible for the fact that so many people have lost their lives when attempting to reach the European Union,” said Greek MEP Kostas Chrysogonos during this afternoon’s debate on provisional measures in the area of international protection for the benefit of Italy and Greece due to the refugee crisis.
“The Commission’s proposal to relocate 40,000 people, who are in need of international protection, is a drop in the ocean when we consider what’s needed. Greece has taken 260,000 people in the past year. The numbers being put forward by the Council sound like insults; the Council is not paying attention. Greek islands are literally sinking under the weight of the people who have arrived there.
“What we need is a permanent and binding relocation mechanism; we need to get rid of the criteria of country of first entry, it simply doesn’t work. But most of all we need a peaceful solution in Syria and Iraq. That is the only response. Nothing will be solved without a peaceful solution to these wars.”
Italian MEP Barbara Spinelli added: “The treaties don’t tell the truth about who we are; we are not a guiding light of civilisation, we haven’t shown solidarity to Greece or to refugees.
“The report we will vote on tomorrow proposes a ‘modest, fair distribution of refugees’ and the Council is already undermining that.
“We must continue the push to address the issues of relocation and combatting illegal channels of immigration, in spite of the fact the Council has shown itself to be incompetent and incapable of action.”
Bruxelles, 24 giugno 2015. Intervento di Barbara Spinelli in occasione della proiezione del film “EU 2013 – The Last Frontier” di Alessio Genovese e Raffaella Cosentino.
Incontro-conferenza organizzato da Laura Ferrara (gruppo EFFD – Movimento 5 Stelle), Ignazio Corrao (EFFD – M5S), Barbara Spinelli (gruppo GUE/NGL), nel quadro della preparazione del Rapporto di iniziativa strategica sulla situazione nel Mediterraneo e la necessità di una visione globale delle migrazioni da parte dell’Unione europea (relatori: Cécile Kyenge e Roberta Metsola. Ignazio Corrao e Barbara Spinelli sono “relatori ombra” per i rispettivi gruppi).
Costanza Hermanin – Open Society Foundation
Stefano Galieni – LasciateCIEntrare
Prof. Fulvio Vassallo Paleologo – Università degli Studi di Palermo
Marco Valli – MEP gruppo EFFD
Maria Giovanna Manieri – Picum
Grazie Laura Ferrara, grazie Ignazio Corrao, grazie a tutti voi che siete qui.
Interverrò brevemente perché dopo il film avremo comunque modo di discutere. Sono molto curiosa di vedere questo documentario poiché più che mai è necessaria, oggi, una contro-informazione. Ho appena saputo dal regista Alessio Genovese che il suo film, scandalosamente, non è mai stato trasmesso in televisione. Ma forse non è così scandaloso come sembra ma del tutto naturale, del tutto voluto: le immagini reali vengono occultate, si fa politica solo con l’immaginario. Ciò è parte della strategia della paura che in questo momento permea con tanta forza l’Unione europea, la sua “natura”. Sono colpita da quella che, a mio avviso, sembra una stretta sempre più pericolosa, fatta di disinformazione, di paure, di gioco sulle cifre: si parla di esodi biblici che bisogna fermare quando alcuni paesi hanno vere difficoltà e veri aumenti di afflussi di immigrati (è il caso della Grecia o dell’Ungheria), e altri no, e tra questi c’è anche l’Italia. Non c’è un esodo, un picco emergenziale in Italia. Siamo davanti a un dato strutturale – ogni sei mesi arriva un certo numero di immigrati – con cui bisogna fare i conti.
Over the past five years, the EU and the IMF have imposed unprecedented austerity on Greece. It has failed badly. The economy has shrunk by 26%, unemployment has risen to 27%, youth unemployment to 60% and the debt-to-GDP ratio jumped from 120% to 180%. The economic catastrophe has led to a humanitarian crisis, with more than 3 million people on or below the poverty line.
Against this background, the Greek people elected the Syriza-led government on 25 January with a clear mandate to put an end to austerity. In the ensuing negotiations, the government made it clear that the future of Greece is in the eurozone and the EU. The lenders, however, insisted on the continuation of their failed recipe, refused to discuss a writedown of the debt – which the IMF is on record as considering unviable – and finally, on 26 June, issued an ultimatum to Greece by means of a non-negotiable package that would entrench austerity. This was followed by a suspension of liquidity to the Greek banks and the imposition of capital controls.
In this situation, the government has asked the Greek people to decide the future of the country in a referendum to be held next Sunday. We believe that this ultimatum to the Greek people and democracy should be rejected. The Greek referendum gives the European Union a chance to restate its commitment to the values of the enlightenment – equality, justice, solidarity – and to the principles of democracy on which its legitimacy rests. The place where democracy was born gives Europe the opportunity to recommit to its ideals in the 21st century.
Rajeswari Sunder Rajan
Carlos M Herrera
Johan van der Walt