|Author (Person)||Coss, Simon|
|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol.8, No.22, 6.6.02, p11|
EU LEADERS must have the courage to start drawing up a truly European social policy if they want to stem the rise of the far right, a leading anti-globalisation activist has told European Voice.
In an interview, Ignacio Ramonet, founder of ATTAC and editor-in-chief of France's influential Le Monde Diplomatique, said Union leaders must have the courage to grasp the social nettle at this month's Seville summit.
'In order to fight the rise of populism, we need a social Europe,' he insisted. 'Social issues have been marginalised in today's EU; the politicians just seem to be there to serve the free-market global economy.'
Ramonet argued that many of the people who have been turning to Europe's far right parties in recent years are traditional left-wing voters who feel globalisation has left them by the wayside.
The only way to bring these people back into the democratic fold would be to draft effective legislation to protect their jobs and basic social rights, he said.
The ATTAC founder accepted that drawing up serious social protection rules for the EU would not be easy.
But he insisted that this was no reason for giving up the fight for a more social Europe, especially when there was clearly such a demand for it.
'We must start listening to society on these issues,' he said.
The lack of a credible social dimension to EU politics is not the only area in which the Union has lost its way, according to the anti-world trade campaigner.
He also criticised the way the negotiations on enlarging the EU to take on up to 13 new member states have been handled.
'It was a mistake to say enlargement could happen straight away. We should not have told the applicant states they could join so fast, when a lot of them just aren't ready,' he said. 'Also, we have enormous problems that need to be resolved within the existing EU first.
'Just last week the Commission announced plans to dismantle the fishing industry, for example, and there are similar problems looming for other sectors.
'It's not surprising that enthusiasm for enlargement seems to be falling off at the moment,' he added.
Ramonet founded ATTAC as a way of putting pressure on world leaders to adopt the so-called 'Tobin Tax', a levy designed to reduce international currency speculation.
Invented by US economist James Tobin, who died this year, the tax would work by imposing a very small levy on cross-border currency movements.
But towards the end of his life Tobin said the levy couldn't work in practice as it would only be effective if applied world-wide, a view now shared by most leading economists.
Ramonet disputes the received wisdom, however, and insists the idea is still valid.
'You need to start somewhere and the EU could provide a critical mass for launching such an initiative,' he said.
Interview with Ignacio Ramonet, founder of anti-globalisation organisation ATTAC.
|Subject Categories||Politics and International Relations|