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Paper on the imperialist character of the EU

European Continental Committee, 19 April 2019



Preliminary remarks


Dear comrades,

we provide you with the following contribution for the struggle against EU-imperialism. Its fundamental character was discussed at the meeting of ECC-Europe in February. It should support you in organizing events, and public appearances in general. And we are looking forward to your feedback and further facts and arguments that come from your work.


With kind regards,





It is essential for the higher development of the class struggle of the working class and the popular masses in Europe to understand the imperialist character of the EU. Our joint campaign against the imperialist EU-alliance is therefore an intentional part of the ICOR movement to provide insight on imperialism and to gather forces for the anti-imperialist united front.


1. The general proneness to crisis of the imperialist system has further intensified, as well as the competition among the imperialists. This becomes clear in the trade-wars, especially the trade-war of the USA against China, and also against the EU or Iran. The USA tries to prevent the gas pipeline Northstream II between Russia and Germany, in order to do damage to both and to sell its own fracking shale gas. The German monopolies are opposed to this. The contradictions with French imperialism were painstakingly put right for this. The EU tries to circumvent the American sanctions against Iran. The increased attempts of the EU imperialists to expand their independence from the USA are becoming clear. New-imperialist China is increasingly trying to gain a foothold in the EU and has established an "Asian Investment Bank" together with 11 EU states and 5 Balkan states. Germany and France are excluded. Italy was recently integrated into the imperialist "Belt and Road" Project (New Silk Road).


A general tendency of imperialist war preparation is developing. An immensely increased worldwide arming reached the estimated record of $1740 billion in 2017. Earlier this year, the US denounced the INF agreement with Russia (which involved the scrapping of medium-range nuclear missiles) and it threatens with a military invasion of Venezuela. Erdogan menaces the democratic Rojava. (Six ICOR brigadists however, did not allow themselves to be deterred from installing a solar cell system on the roof of the Health Centre.) Russia uses, among other, former military bases of the social imperialist Soviet Union in Angola and Mozambique to gain new influence in Africa. The imperialist state Israel bombed over a 100 times positions of its competitor Iran in Syria and has annexed Palestinian territories. In the South China Sea also contradictions are becoming sharper.


Ten years after the last global economic crisis, there are increasing signs of a renewed crisis. A huge speculative bubble has developed again. In the third quarter of 2018, the global automotive industry had to accept a decline of 2.9% in the number of cars sold, indeed in the fourth quarter about 4%. In October 2018, industrial production in the countries of the euro zone reached only 96.6% of pre-crisis levels. In the event of a global economic crisis, the requirements for international crisis management are now lacking. The change to an environmental catastrophe, in particular a climate catastrophe, is also intensifying. Last summer there were huge forest fires in Greece, Sweden and Portugal. 24 world climate conferences have not prevented CO-2 emissions from reaching a record level of 405 molecules per million air particles. On the other hand, the youth movement "Fridays for Future" shows that young people do not want to be robbed of their future. It attacks the bourgeois governments and calls for concrete climate protection measures. In the fight for jobs and environmental protection a complex battle must be fought in the mode of thinking, in order for the struggle for jobs not to be played off against environmental protection. However, the movement must preserve its true independence and non-partisanship and defend it against any bourgeois influencing and further develop and consolidate an openness to cooperation with revolutionary forces.


2. The History of the EU

Even the European Economic Community of 6 states, founded in 1957, was an alliance of imperialists who were individually too weak to compete with the great imperialists. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990, EU leaders formulated claims to become the world's leading economic power. With over 500 million inhabitants (including Britain), the EU is one of the world's largest economic areas. In 1997, the Treaty of Amsterdam created the principle of gradual integration, which - with the division into a Eurozone - enabled the large countries to advance integration in some areas. In 2000, the Lisbon Strategy set the ambitious goal of becoming the world's number one economic power. In 2003, the "European Security Strategy" (ESS) officially established the EU as a global player, to be implemented through an expansive political, economic and military strategy. This expansion was initially implemented with a gradual expansion of the EU to 28 states. The European Neighborhood Policy (ENP) covers Switzerland, Israel, Eastern Europe, Ukraine, the Middle East and the oil-rich Caspian region, as well as shipping routes in Asia. The EU monopolies are very interested in Ukraine, its mineral resources and large agricultural areas.


3. The Essence of the EU

The European Union is a union of large imperialist countries with smaller capitalist and imperialist countries. The policies of the smaller states are largely dictated by the main imperialist powers Germany and France, but also by Italy and Spain. However, the largest corporations in these countries also benefit from EU policy. Now the EU has advanced to the borders of Russia. In the alleged name dispute over "Northern Macedonia", the point is really to annex this country into NATO and the EU empire. EU troops are in Africa, in the Near and Middle East. Through numerous association agreements, the EU has tied a large part of the African countries to itself. For example, EU trawlers may catch several thousand tons of fish off the coast of Senegal within the 200-mile limit. The state receives about € 2.5 million per year for this. The Senegalese small-scale fishermen have nothing to gain from this and are forced to flee. A large industrial boat catches as much fish in a week as a small fisherman may catch in a year. In Africa, the EU has entered into a race with other imperialists like China over the rich sources of raw materials and markets. French imperialism, with its control over their currency - the CFA franc, keeps 14 West- and Central-African countries in a neo-colonial dependency. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development has drawn up a "Marshall Plan with Africa". The imperialists' policies are followed by hunger, misery, ecological crises and wars. Due to the advance of new imperialist states such as China in particular, the EU however continuously lost its share in the global world social product. In 2000 it still had a share of 26.5%, in 2017 only 21.4%. China on the other hand increased its share from 4.1% to 15.6% in the same period. This relapse also explains the growing aggressiveness of EU imperialism.


4. The Militarization of the EU

At the instigation of Germany and France, the military union PESCO was founded at the end of 2017 by 23 states. Juncker, head of the EU commission, was beside himself: "She has awakened, the sleeping beauty of the Lisbon Treaty". (quoted from Haydt/Wagner "The Militarization of the EU", p. 208) The first agreements decided upon were an increase in arms expenditure up to 2% of the gross domestic product; mutual support in foreign missions; and the development of the Eurodrone and a successor model to the Tornado fighter aircraft.

Those states that do not participate in the massive building up of armament are threatened with exclusion. Multinational armed forces such as the 60,000-strong Eurocorps are further developed. A "European army", meaning an EU army, is to emerge from PESCO. According to Chancellor Merkel, this also includes an EU aircraft carrier - a typical imperialist weapon. European intervention units are to be set up, which will also be used internally across borders against the "terrorist threat", i.e. against strikes and insurrections. German and French imperialism recently reaffirmed their cooperation in building up armament and their claim to supremacy in Europe with the new edition of the Élysée Treaty.

The EU is not a power for peace, but an aggressive imperialist power with a claim to world power. The ICOR stands for the decisive struggle against every imperialist war policy!


5. The intensification of class contradictions in the EU

Social contradictions in the EU are deepening. In the EU, one in six citizens (85 million) lives on the poverty line. The statistical average wage in Romania was only € 687. One fifth of those able to work now work abroad. In the poorest country (Kosovo) a third of the 1.8 million inhabitants lived below the poverty line in 2018. On average, a worker there received € 360 net. In Greece, youth unemployment was 38.5% in October 2018 and 32% in Spain. Germany has developed into a low-wage country. Whereas in 1991 there were still 6.3 million part-time or low-paid employees, by 2017 the figure had risen to 15.6 million. In 1991 net earnings averaged € 1200, in 2017 € 1950. Inflation, however, had more than eaten up this increase. The housing shortage and enormous rent increases aggravate the social situation of working people, especially in the metropoles of the imperialist states.

In contrast, the EU is a tax haven for the monopolies. Recently it was discovered that they pay only 20% taxes on the European average instead of 30%, although even these official figures are glossed over. In the Luxleaks it was revealed that some corporations like IKEA pay less than 1% tax.

The EU is not a prosperity project for the workers, but a paradise for the monopolies.


6. The Parliamentary fraud

The European Parliament is part of the democratic facade of the EU, which is intended to hide the autocratic rule of the monopolies in the EU. Unlike national parliaments, it does not even formally have the right to pass laws. Decisions are taken by the Council of the European Union, i.e. the respective Heads of State and Government or the Council of Ministers with ministers from member-countries. Once Parliament has passed a majority decision, it only enters into force after the European Council has given its approval. Ultimately however, the EU institutions must subordinate themselves to the interests of the European monopolies. The organs of the EU, like those of the individual states, have merged with the organs of the international monopoly associations of Europe and assert their interests against the individual nation states. Important decisions are taken in the European Industrialists' Round Table (ERT). The CEOs of 50 large European companies sit there.

Police operations are coordinated internationally via Europol. In France, provocations and violent police attacks on the Yellow Vests demonstrators are on the increase and army units have recently been deployed. In Germany, new police task laws are being enforced, according to which police surveillance can be enforced up to preventive detention, when there is a mere suspicion of "endangerment". Brutal police operations in Eastern Europe are not uncommon.

The EU is not a stronghold of freedom and democracy, but its organs and individual states are instruments of oppression against the workers and the masses.


7. The destruction of the natural environment by the EU and European monopolies

The EU likes to shroud itself with the halo of environmental protection. However, CO2 emissions continue to rise and new nuclear power plants are being built. The desire for healthy food while protecting the natural environment has grown strongly among the population. Hundreds of thousands of young people in Europe and around the world are now taking to the streets every week in the “Fridays for Future” movement. In the declaration of solidarity of the ICOR Europe it says: "The youth is called upon not to sacrifice their future to capitalistic profit logic, but to change the world revolutionarily, so that it becomes humane and environmental fair. Work together with the ICOR-parties and -organizations - become ‘friends of ICOR’”


On 19 January for example, 35,000 people (including 178 farmers with their tractors) took to the streets in Berlin and protested against EU agricultural policy. There were corresponding demonstrations of farmers in France. Every year, the agricultural monopolies in particular are fed 60 billion euros in subsidies. These subsidies make the raw material cheaper for the food companies and promote agricultural exports, which destroy local agriculture in Africa, among other places. More than 800 million people do not have enough to eat. Along with wars and environmental destruction, this is one of the main causes of the drive of refugees to flee. The EU's agricultural subsidies depend on the size of the farms, which means that the demise of small and medium-sized farms are still subsidized by the state. The existing minimum requirements for environmentally sound management will be further watered down. The toxic glyphosate was approved at the instigation of the Bayer/Monsanto monopoly. In Germany, about 13% of the agricultural land important for biological diversity has been lost in the last 6 years. Since 1990, the number of insects has decreased by 75%. This includes wild bees. The material requirements for a healthy diet for all people - in harmony with nature - are there. The critical obstacle is imperialism.


8. The deepening crisis of the EU

The clearest expression of this is Brexit, which will weaken the EU. With the withdrawal treaty, the EU imperialists are trying to dictate the conditions for British monopolies to participate in the European market, without involving them in EU decisions. The still undecided exit procedure reflects the conflicting interests of the British monopolies.

The crisis of the bourgeois refugee policy is documented in an intensified inhuman isolation from refugees in the Mediterranean and North Africa. The rescue of people in distress at sea continues to be hampered. In the first quarter of 2019 alone, at least 290 people drowned. Supplying arms and cooperation with reactionary regimes in Libya and North Africa has been greatly expanded. In Libya, refugees are crammed into concentration camps with the approval of the EU. Between December 2014 and September 2016 alone, the EU spent €15.3 billion on the combat against migration. The main beneficiaries were military arms companies such as Thales and Airbus. By 2027, the Frontex border agency is to be expanded from 1500 to 10,000 people.

The French government is in a political crisis and was forced to make concessions to the Yellow Vests movement. The latent crisis of the German government continues and has the potential to become an open government crisis at any time. The fundamental reason for this is the beginning change of the public opinion in a progressive way, which has become clear by the progressive development of trade union struggles in 2018 with 1.5 million participants, numerous demonstrations against reactionary police laws and the refugee policy.

In almost all EU countries there is a swing to the right, initiated by the governments. This is a reaction to the deepening crisis of imperialism with its tendency towards an openly reactionary policy. ICOR and its organizations are especially focused by the class opponent. In general, the activities of the secret services against us are still underestimated. The state apparatus openly repressed our Spanish comrades from PML(RC).


"We can assume that the new quality of the imperialist crisis will be followed by a new stage of struggles transforming society. Internationally - often as a protest against the reactionary developments - an upswing of struggles has come to be, and in the social polarization at the same time a progressive change of mood. The international industrial proletariat has a leading role in this." (Chief Coordinator of ICOR in her introductory contribution to the latest ICC meeting.) It took a while for the masses in these countries to come to terms with the swing to the right. A network of corruption has become unveiled of allegedly ‘decent and upright fellows’ in the power apparatus of Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Serbia, Hungary or the Ukraine. In many cases, the demonstrators still hope for support from Brussels, but the EU is relying on those in power who "promise stability". Membership of the EU is clearly leading to a deterioration in the situation of working people. Meanwhile, workers' protests and strikes are intensifying, as at Audi in Györ/Hungary. On 30 January, after almost one-week of strike, their demand for an 18% wage increase was fully implemented. The success was achieved when the strike in Györ brought production at Audi Ingolstadt to a complete standstill. Solidarity was immediately organized there. Workers from other companies in Hungary were encouraged to likewise make offensive demands and to enforce them in part. The protests against Viktor Orban's "slavery laws" continue in 2019. General strikes in October and November in Portugal, Italy and Greece were directed among other things against the freezing of wages and retirement pensions due to the dictates of IMF and the EU and - as in Italy - against the reactionary refugee policy. Since December, thousands have taken to the streets in Belgrade every Saturday, shouting "Vucić - thief" and "they lie, they steal". By the beginning of January, the figure had risen to 40,000, by 5 February to 80,000. A protest movement united tens of thousands against the Mafia government in the multi-ethnic state of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The automobile workers of GM, Ford or VW are also called upon to fight threatening mass layoffs. The largest mass movement in Europe however, is the Yellow-Vests Movement in France, which has been fighting with tens of thousands people for social and democratic rights on Saturdays since the end of 2018. On 5 February, 300,000 protested together with trade unions. But also in Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium ... there is a clear revival in mass protests and demonstrations in 2019.

The workers' and mass struggles have significantly deepened the crisis of the EU.


9. The importance of the anti-imperialist united front

It is of fundamental importance that the workers and popular masses see through the imperialist character of the EU.


An essential part of this debate is the dispute with revisionism. On the occasion of the European elections, 20 parties issued a "joint appeal". In it they attribute the crisis in the EU to capitalism, without however naming its character as an imperialist power. They write that "the construction of the EU cannot be reformed in its essence", but then they spread the illusion: "Another Europe is possible, necessary and more timely than ever. A different Europe - a Europe that serves the workers and peoples and their needs - can emerge through a radical change in the foundations on which the EU was built. A radical change conceived and decided upon by the workers and peoples of Europe". The change should consist of "economic, social and ecologically sustainable progress" and lead to a "Europe of democracy, of cooperation between sovereign and equal states". No mention is made of the necessary overthrow of the imperialist EU states, the elimination of capitalism and the establishment of socialism. Its objective is at best peaceful and social capitalism. Consequently, the focus is not on class struggle and the construction of an anti-imperialist united front, but on the strengthening of the "Left Group in the European Parliament".

The social democratic reformists, from the GREENS up to left-reformist parties, gather the criticisms and the displeasure among the masses with the European Union, spread illusions and strengthen thereby the European Union. They spread the illusion of "For a Europe of citizens - not of banks and speculators". The attitude of Cem Özdemir, a leading German Green politician, is openly social-chauvinistic: "The most effective way to ensure that states no longer wage war against each other is to abolish the national armed forces of these states. A European army is therefore also a sensible and logical further development of a common Europe as a peace project...". (quoted from Haydt/Wagner, p. 267).

The reactionary criticism of the EU by ultra-rights and fascists has as its main content bourgeois nationalism and chauvinism. They agitate against refugees and make them responsible for the dismantling of social rights, housing shortage, crime etc. They stand up for the interests of the monopolies in their countries, in no way do they attack the imperialist character of the EU, but instead advocate a more aggressive policy of the EU and speak in particular of a further step backwards in environmental policy.


10. The struggle of ICOR Europe

We do our work under the slogan of: Rebellion against the EU is justified. For this purpose we also in Europe stand up for the international unity of workers, the port miners, the automobile workers. In the struggles of the ICOR parties, the struggle for economic and social rights must be closely connected with political struggle against the imperialist EU. With our main slogan we give an orientation to the struggles in Europe and the EU in the purport of the anti-imperialist and anti-fascist united front.


From the resolution:

The crisis in the EU intensifies with the Brexit of Great-Britain and with harbingers of a next world economic and financial crisis. The rulers will always try to shift the burden of the crisis on the workers, on the masses. Our answer is: Together and united in ICOR we will intensify our efforts to enable practical cooperation, coordination and to revolutionize all struggles.


Proletarians of all countries, unite!

Proletarians of all countries and oppressed peoples, unite!

Prepare the international socialist revolution with the aim of creating

a free federation of socialist states of the world


Strengthen ICOR - become "Friends of ICOR" - Strengthen the revolutionary parties in Europe – Long live international solidarity!


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