Economists and social scientists for the “No”


We, economists, researchers and social scientists, reject the current European treaty establishing a Constitution for the EU for two main reasons:

- the treaty precludes any alternative to liberal policies;

- the treaty subordinates social rights to the principle of “free competition”.

Part III of the text (“The Policies of the Union”) sums up the content of previous treaties. Thus, were they to vote in favour of this text, European citizens would support the disastrous neo-liberal policies led in Europe for the last twenty years. These policies have led to economic stagnation, unemployment and poverty. They have also led to a general social setback, through the privatisation of public services, the dismantling of social protection and fiscal policies favouring the rich.

Many commentators praise the EU Constitution because it includes the “Charter of Fundamental Rights”. But what appears as a step forward is not really one. In fact, the Charter often gives a minimal version of many social rights. And these rights are submitted to the stringent liberal requirements of Part III of the Constitution. In total, the whole text clearly rejects any possibility of a deliberate upward harmonisation of social systems, which is expected to result from “the functioning of the internal market” (art. III-209). The treaty leads to an organised competition between social systems: when social standards are too different, which is now the case in an enlarged EU, the absence of a voluntary upward social harmonisation means convergence toward the lowest standards.

The present European policies and institutions all rely on a simple hypothesis: that widespread competition means well-being for all. This hypothesis is false. Both history and the current success of some European countries show the possibility of various economic modes of coordination, which limit and restrain competition. It is down this alternative road, which is economically efficient and socially fair, that the EU should go. Instead, it is content to endlessly repeat the mantra of “free and undistorted competition”.

This bias towards competition is no accident. It is the necessary product of the present state of the EU. All European institutions, and in particular the division of areas of competence between those that require unanimity and those where a qualified majority applies, favour the rapid implementation of market-making policies and slow down, or even hinder, the adoption of other policies.

In a nutshell, this treaty is:

- anti-economic: it makes the catastrophic policies that have been imposed on European citizens for more than two decades now the new norm;

- anti-social: it subordinates social rights to the superior principle of free competition;

- anti-democratic: it forbids any alternative policies.

Last of all, this project is anti-European: by destroying social relationships, by creating a fierce competition between the peoples of Europe, it creates a growing discontent that can only fuel a future rejection of the European project itself.

All this makes us wonder if those who propose such policies are really in favour of Europe.

Initiated by Bruno Amable, Jean Gadrey, Liêm Hoang-Ngoc, Michel Husson, Frédéric Lordon, Jacques Mazier, Stefano Palombarini, Christophe Ramaux, Gilles Raveaud, Aurélien Saïdi, Damien Sauze, Bruno Théret, auteurs de l'ouvrage "Douze économistes contre le projet de Constitution européenne"

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