Huge protest against Bolkestein Directive

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Almost 100,000 people marched through the streets of Brussels last Saturday, in protest against corporate-sponsored policies based on cuts in social and welfare provision and against the formation of a European superstate. The great majority of the crowd in Brussels was made up of working people and trade unionists from Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands, in a demonstration against the proposed European Commission Directive on Services in the Internal Market, the so called Bolkestein Directive.

The Bolkestein Directive would mean that a firm registered in an EU member state could operate in another member state and yet follow the laws of the country in which it was registered, leading to competition between workers from different parts of Europe. Major employers see big advantages in this in terms of the downward pressure it would exercise on wages and social provision. The fact that so many people took to the streets of Brussels makes it clear that trade unions will not tolerate the neoliberal policies emanating from that same city, policies based on “economic progress, social decline”.

Many demonstrators came from France. The trade union confederation the CGT had worked hard to bring as many of its members as possible and the result was that thousands of French workers took the opportunity to demonstrate that they had had a belly full of EU economic policies which so prioritised corporate profits that the interests of working people were forgotten.

Numerous protests against the Iraq war and against racism were evident and made it clear that the sources of the demonstrators’ discontent went much further than fears for their own jobs.

As the protest march through Brussels came to an end one thing was unmistakable, that resistance to the Bolkestein directive (“Bolkenstein-Frankenstein” as some demonstrators dubbed it) goes hand in hand with the fight against the European Constitution. Thousands of participants carried banners or wore stickers calling for the Constitution to be rejected, a Constitution which threatens to make permanent the Americanisation of the European economy, to replace social provision with social dumping. That the protests were not solely about Bolkestein’s proposal, but were equally aimed at “Superstate Europe”, was a slap in the face for the architects of the Constitutional Treaty.

See Also:
Spectrezine editorial: The Bolkestein Directive

Thomas Fritz - The European Services Directive