With the Brexit, a new historical situation arises. The European Union is dead as an avatar of Europe. What killed it were its policies, its institutions and its governments. Until now, we could say that the EU did not have a monopoly on Europe. Today we must say that the EU is disqualified as “being Europe”.
However the EU structure is not simply going to disintegrate, contrary to what the media and Eurocrats will purport in their bid to regroup and alarm. It will continue to fulfil its functions: deregulating, producing austerity, administering the interests of financial markets and free trade. To this end, negotiations with the UK government will seek to safeguard the interests of the business and financial communities.
Meanwhile, European leaders will conveniently sum up Brexit as populism and nationalism, and will draw the same conclusion from it as they did from the Greek crisis: a need for more EU, more irreversibility and more stability of the current European system.
Without a doubt, our leaders are preparing to push us into more authoritarian federalism which will, in turn, nourish and inflate the anger of peoples.
What should the left do with its limited forces in Europe and reduced credibility since the Tsipras experience?
First, we must affirm a few things. European leaders have lost any credibility to propose new solutions to solve the current crisis and a future for Europe. We must demand, right now, a moratorium on the EU and its decisions in economic and social affairs, as well as in relation to international treaties negotiations.
We must say that any runaway federalism strengthens the far right.
We need popular consultations everywhere, so to raise the question of a new founding text between countries willing to maintain European cooperation, beyond the framework of the current EU treaties.
In this preliminary debate, prior to any new commitment, the left must defend a Europe of voluntary cooperation between countries, on political grounds. This Europe could be joined by other countries that have no geographical boundaries with us. In this framework, such a Europe should allow transfer of sovereignty (notably on cross-cutting issues such as climate, energy, etc.), but always in a controllable and, if needed, revocable way.
As to the question of possible exit by other countries, fear not. Both right and left types of exits are possible. Time has come for the left to assert it. It’s also high time to remind that there can be no end to austerity within the Euro straightjacket.
In 2017, Europe will be at the centre of our political lives. Let’s take the initiative.