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Press Conference on alternative Europe

category galway | eu | press release author Sunday January 11, 2004 17:05author by Orla Ni Chomhraiauthor email nichomhrai at eircom dot netauthor phone 091-584990 Report this post to the editors

There will be a press conference happening in the Imperial Hotel, Monday the 12th of January between 12pm and 1pm (possibly spilling over into the lunch hour). This will be to voice concerns over certain aspects of EU and Irish government policies, in advance of the EU ministers visit to Galway later that week.

This conference will be taking place under the banner of 'Another Europe is possible' and will take a critical look at some of the policies of the EU, specifically in relation to the militarisation of the EU, privatisation and de-regulation, and harsh policies towards asylum seekers ('Fortress Europe'), and there are certain environmental concerns aslo. This is in advance of the EU ministers meeting which will be happening in Galway between the 15th and 17th of January, and a protest which will be held (against War, Racism and Privatisation) on Friday the 16th, starting at Eyre Square at 5pm marching to the Radisson where the ministers will be holding a social evening.

The speakers at this press conference include:

John Carty (Mandate),
Pat Keane (TEEU)
Des O'Dowd (Taxi Drivers Association)
Joshua Castellino (Lecturer at the Irish Centre for Human Rights, NUI, Galway)
Foley (Refugee and worker at the Galway People's Resource Centre)
A Spokesperson for the Galway Alliance Against War
Kieran Cunnane (Green Party),
Daniel Callinan (Sinn Féin)
Sean Dunleavy (SWP)
Labour Party spokesperson (speaker to be confirmed)

Concerns over privatisation, which the EU and Irish government are promoting, include the cut-backs in social services, attacks on working conditions, job losses, increasing costs of the service to the general public, and safety, health and environmental considerations in relation to certain services such as water supply and transport.

Other environmental concerns include the promotion of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, the promotion of the nuclear industry in the EU constitution, and the comment in the Programme of the Irish Presidency of the European Union that the work 'initiated under the Italian Presidency on the proposal for a Regulation on Chemicals, with a view to achieving an effective balance between economic, social and environmental considerations.' could very well mean that environmental and social considerations will get second and third place to economic ones (especially considering this comment is in a section on business competitiveness).

Concerns over the militarisation of the EU include the attempt by our government to align Ireland and the EU more with the US, and the increasing militarisation of the EU. The Programme of the Irish Presidency of the European Union states that 'Co-operation in the fight against terrorism will be taken forward.' and ''there will be close, ongoing cooperation between the EU and the US on critical international issues, particularly the Middle East Peace Process and Iraq. ' The Programme also reveals that 'The Irish Presidency will... facilitate further development of the Union’s capabilities, both civilian and military.'

There is concern over the increasingly harsh approach to asylum seekers. While the government will try to promote themselves as welcoming to people from other countries during the May first 'Day of Welcomes', they are planning to strengthen 'Fortress Europe' and make life harder for those fleeing wars, repression and economic devastation (often caused by the same policies the EU is promoting). This hardline approach is likely to encourage the rise of racism as immigrants are viewed with suspicion.

These are some of the issues which people want to highlight during the Irish Presidency of the EU. We held a public meeting in Galway last Wednesday which was attended by 70 people from a variety of backgrounds.

There is a similar group under the banner 'Another Europe is possible' forming in Dublin. Supporters of this campaign include: Mick O'Reilly (ATGWU), Patricia McKenna (MEP, Green Party), Andy Storey (UCD Development Studies), Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, NGO Peace Alliance, Irish Anti-War Movement, Pat Cahill (ASTI), Barry Nevin (SIPTU Aviation Branch), Brendan Ogle (ILDA).

If you would like any further information pleace phone me at 091-584990, or Kieran Cunanne at 086-8516484.
Yours Sincerely,
Orla Ní Chomhraí

Please see below relavent call from ETUC.


The ETUC has decided to call a European Day of action on the 2nd and 3rd April 2004 to demand a more social Europe. Hundreds of thousands of citizens will demonstrate to support a Europe of democracy, justice, equality, tolerance and freedom.

John Monks, General Secretary of the ETUC, said that Social Europe is under threat along with the national collective bargaining and welfare systems of individual member states. There are widespread attempts by Governments including those of the Centre left to:

Weaken welfare unilaterally;
Privatise public services;
Undermine social dialogue;
Block new social measures at the European level;
Encourage the US-originated doctrine of shareholder value to be the goal of all companies, in contrast to the traditional multi-stakeholder and social dialogue approach of European businesses.
This is totally unacceptable and Trade Unions must make their voice heard.

The single market in Europe was always going to cause huge changes and restructuring for millions of working people. The accession of 10 new countries in 2004 is going to increase the movement of capital and people. Both developments have been supported by the ETUC but on the condition that a strong social platform of worker rights, social dialogue, collective bargaining, decent welfare states and high quality public services and services of general interest are put in place to help people handle change.

This is not happening.

Governments are refusing to include adequate safeguards for Social Europe in the proposed new Constitution. Unless the policies and instruments (Part III) of the Constitution are brought into line with the objectives (Part I), the constitutional basis for Social Europe will be inadequate. The ETUC supports a new constitution for Europe and deplores the inability of Governments to agree one, on the basis of the result of the Convention on the future of Europe. The ETUC now wants to see early action to agree a Constitution with a strong social dimension. Otherwise, Europe will grind to a halt and the prospect of social advances will recede still further. < /P>

So, the ETUC calls on all its national affiliates and industry federations to organise on 2-3 April across Europe:

Protest action and mass demonstrations in the capitals and in the major cities of Europe;

Conferences and briefing sessions to raise the awareness of workers about what is at stake, and to alert them to the dangers posed by the US business way and its mere reliance on shareholder value.

Media campaigns to highlight our case for a strong social Europe to balance the single market and to contribute to a successful unification of Europe.

We want millions to be involved on April 2-3. We must make an impact on the thinking of Governments, businesses and all citizens.

We must stand up and be counted in support of
More solidarity and justice;
More social cohesion, equality and tolerance;
A strong European social model;
A socially oriented Constitution.
Our Europe is a social Europe - A social Europe is our Europe.

author by Orla Ni Chomhraipublication date Sun Jan 11, 2004 17:21author address author phone Report this post to the editors

There is scary stuff on the official website


I would especially recommend the Programme of the Irish Presidency of the European Union

which states that :

'The transatlantic relationship is a core strategic partnership for the European Union and will be a central focus of the Irish Presidency. We will work with the US, and with Canada, on practical cooperation across the broad range of issues of common interest and concern. On the political side, there will be close, ongoing cooperation between the EU and the US on critical international issues, particularly the Middle East Peace Process and Iraq. Co-operation in the fight against terrorism will be taken forward. EU-US trade issues will also be advanced and renewed impetus will be given to the positive economic agenda. The Irish Presidency will seek common ground with the US and other partners on the world trade agenda post Cancun.

Ireland's Presidency will see both an EU-US Summit and an EU-Canada Summit. These Summits will provide an opportunity to re-affirm the vitality and importance of the relationship that the Union enjoys with the US and Canada. '

This can be read at http://www.eu2004.ie/templates/document.asp?sNavlocator=5,236 It is the second document on this page, entitled Europeans Working Together. Bye the way the 'positive economic agenda' is the privatisation of public services, probably all of them in the long run. There are also other gems in this Programme such as:

'The Irish Presidency will continue to build on the work of previous Presidencies in the development of military capabilities to carry out crisis management operations. '

'The Irish Presidency will work towards progressing discussions on the financing and organisational issues relating to the establishment of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) and on the wider international aspects.'

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