The proposed Service Directive (The Bolkestein-directive) is a designed recipe for social dumping. Therefore, the workers of Europe must stand united against this new attack upon our rights from the United Europe of Capital (EU).
Not being a member of the EU, but associated with it as a result of the EEA Agreement, the workers and people of Norway have two objectives in their struggle against the Service Directive:
1) In general, the people and workers, including the trade union movement, give active support to the workers of the EU member countries in their struggle to refute the Service Directive (Bolkestein) and to put it in the trash bin.
2) If the Directive, in spite of the popular protests, should be endorsed by the EU parliament, the demand is that the Government of Norway immediately acts in order to make reservations (in practice: to lay down a veto) where the application of this directive in our country is concerned. This is an option open to the EFTA countries that are part of the EEA Agreement (but has so far never been put to practice).
To this end, heavy pressure was laid on the parties comprising the new red-green government well in advance of the September national elections, resulting in promises from the respective parties of the red-green coalition put down in writing in the so-called Soria Moria document, wherein the government states its objectives and guidelines in national and international politics in the four years to come. Here it is affirmed, among other things, that:
And further on in the Soria Moria statement: «The Government will work to ensure that the EU does not implement a Service Directive that results in social dumping.»
These clear-cut promises were essential for the support given to the centre-left coalition on the part of the trade union and anti-globalization movement in the electoral campaign.
Now in office, the new government has been heavily pressurized by The trade union confederation LO (even by the top level Social Democrat leadership) and all its federations, by the No to EU-movement and by a number of political parties on this matter. Two of the governing parties, the Socialist Left Party (SV) and the Centre Party (Sp), have openly stated that they will not accept implementation of this Directive in Norway. The strongest coalition party, the pro-EU Labour Party (DnA), is trying to "balance" and wants to avoid any kind of conflict with the EU. Their problem is that they are dependent on support from the leadership of the TUC (LO), which has stated that the Directive cannot be accepted. (Whether the Social Democrat LO bosses at a later stage might accept a "milder" directive, cannot be out-ruled; this will depend on the protracted struggle of the opposition among the rank-and-file membership. At the present moment, this opposition is too strong for the leadership to "compromise" on this issue.)These facts imply that the Norwegian toilers are in a favourable situation to fight off the Service Directive. If the Directive should be adopted and the Norwegian government is forced to make reservations, this will also shed light on the EEA Agreement and place the true content of this agreement on the political agenda. The popular resistance to the EU has from the very beginning wanted to abolish this agreement, which is a de facto Norwegian membership of the Internal Market, the Schengen-agreement and partially also in the military field.
Where the latter is concerned, the government is already breaching its promises by unconditionally allocating 150 Norwegian troops to the EUs immediate reaction forces -- contrary to what they have stated in the Soria Moria declaration.
Consequently, it is clear that the working class and the progressive forces must keep up the pressure on the government to compel it to reject the dictates from Brussels, never relying on the "assurances" it may give.
The No to EU and some trade unions are considering to send activists to attend the projected demonstrations in Strasbourg in January or February 2006.
- The Soria Moria declaration: http://dna.no/index.gan?id=47619&subid=0
- The EEA agreement and EFTA: http://secretariat.efta.int/Web/InfoKit/InfoˍKit/WhatistheEEA
- The Norwegian confederation of trade unions (LO): http://www.lo.no
- Nei til EU (No to the EU): http://www.neitileu.no