From Socialist Voice, January 2008

A great danger to democracy

Two significant political events took place at the end of January. Firstly, the British prime minister, Gordon Brown, invited the heads of government of Germany, France and Italy and the president of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, to discuss the response of the European Union to growing global economic and financial instability.
    The press have begun to use the term “G5” to give some sort of significance to what are becoming regular gatherings of the big four to coordinate their positions in relation to EU policy on a whole range of issues.
    Under existing EU rules there is no such thing as the G5 or an “inner circle”; but it is clear that the major economic powers will increase their political co-operation and, given their voting strength, will ensure that they get their way in most matters at the EU Council of Ministers.
    No doubt they will disagree in some matters, but they will agree on the central questions. Yet there is nothing in any treaty so far signed that gives any status to such meetings or bodies.
    Secondly, the president of the European Central Bank, Jean-Claude Trichet, when asked if the euro zone would be matching the United States in cutting interest rates, replied that at this time it was not in the interests of the German economy to cut interest rates.
    So EU economic and financial policy is determined not by the needs of the member-states but by what the big four require and what suits them.
    Irish workers could do with a cut in interest rates, as they are being crippled by high interest rates being imposed by the European Central Bank. Yet the Government continues to peddle the myth that Ireland “punches above its weight” and has great influence.
    If we vote Yes to the Lisbon Treaty more than sixty new areas will be ceded by the Government to the European Union.
    More and more decisions will be determined by majority vote or qualified majority vote. So if the big four plus a few others agree, they will always get their way. This will pose great dangers to democracy, not only in Ireland but in all European countries.

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