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Posts Tagged ‘European Union

Trade Unionists Against the EU, RMT, Leave EU and Kate Hoey, Shared Confidential Labour Data with Far-Right Arron Banks and Cambridge Analytica.

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Worked Hand-in-Glove with Far Right Arron Banks. 

James Patrick – 30/04/18

Sensitive personal data of Labour voters was processed by a third party and shared with Arron Banks’s Leave.EU, Cambridge Analytica, and others associated with unofficial groups campaigning to leave the European Union in February 2016.

Data based upon demographics, class, finances and ethnicity, was used to identify core groups of Labour voters to be targeted with UKIP-led messaging and was instrumental in deciding where Nigel Farage appeared to speak during the Brexit campaign.

Leave.EU, Cambridge Analytica, the RMT Union and Trade Unions Against EU, and Labour MP Kate Hoey – associated with Labour Leave – gained access to the information via Labour’s 2015 general election data guru before referendum campaigns were officially designated by the Electoral Commission.

Blue Collar workers, struggling families, students, and ethnic minorities were among those specifically designated valuable to tailored social media targeting and doorstep canvassing. The data provided specific postcodes to be targeted on and offline, in order to attract millions of votes across the country – enough to swing the divisive referendum result.

Sensitive personal data, which includes ethnicity, was allegedly compiled from Labour Party information by a third party consultant and shared with Arron Banks’s Leave.EU campaign group, Cambridge Analytica, Brian Denny of the RMT Union, and the MP Kate Hoey.

The huge dataset, based on the information of millions of Labour voters across the country, was allegedly built using Mosaic demographics and the results of party canvassing. It is believed to have been amassed during 2015 by political consultant Ian Warren, before he passed it on in a series of detailed briefings and a postcode targeting spreadsheet in early 2016.

He first met with Cambridge Analytica to discuss the use of the information as part of Leave.EU’s campaign at the end of 2015.

Warren was head-hunted by Labour for the 2015 election campaign after his successful work with UKIP and continued to be closely associated with the party, polling members and working with Owen Smith on his leadership challenge during the remainder of 2016.

Leave.EU’s Andy Wigmore said: “He ran Ed Milliband’s team and the general election campaign in 2015 for the Labour Party. He was and still is the Labour Party guru.” A self-taught statistician and political consultant, Warren trades under the name Election Data Limited, based in Bolton.

When asked whether he was still working for the Labour Party at the time of the leak, Warren said: “I’m sick of speaking to journalists about this. I’ve nothing to say.”

When asked whether he had the right to retain and use the data, Warren terminated the phone call.

Full story through below or this link.

Trade Unionists Against the EU was backed by the Morning Star, the Socialist Party, and the ‘Lexit’ left.

After this, and the revelation that they received funding from Banks, dodgy dealings between them and the far-right Brexit campaigns.

As for the connections between the Leave UK, Hoey, and, last but not least Galloway (a regular on Bank’s Westmonster),  a campaign which “made more of immigration-related issues”, it is hardly a surprise.

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Written by Andrew Coates

May 1, 2018 at 12:51 pm

American Jacobin Magazine Advises UK Left to “embrace Brexit” and National Sovereignty.

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 El sueño de la razón produce monstruos

Why the Left Should Embrace Brexit 

THOMAS FAZI WILLIAM MITCHELL.

“A progressive, emancipatory vision of national sovereignty radically alternative to that of both the right and the neoliberals – one based on popular sovereignty, democratic control over the economy, full employment, social justice, redistribution from the rich to the poor, inclusivity, and  effectively the socio-ecological transformation of production and society – is not only necessary; it is possible.”  What Is Needed Is A Progressive Vision Of National Sovereignty  

In the article the authors argue,

The Left’s anti-Brexit hysteria, however, is based on a mixture of bad economics, flawed understanding of the European Union, and lack of political imagination. Not only is there no reason to believe that Brexit would be an economic apocalypse; more importantly, abandoning the EU provides the British left — and the European left more generally — with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to show that a radical break with neoliberalism, and with the institutions that support it, is possible.

Fazi and Mitchell knock down a straw man, that the Remain left considers that Brexit “will lead to an economic apocalypse. Their arguments are based on the idea that the pro-EU left’ accepts the idea that markets are optimal, that “free trade” is the basis of pro-Remain economics, and that we agree that, ” A crucial tenet of the Single Market was the deregulation of financial markets and the abolition of capital controls.”

The authors, one safely based in Australia, conclude,

Indeed: a democratic socialist government led by Corbyn is the best option for the majority of British citizens and for the British economy. This leads to an obvious conclusion: that for a Corbyn-led Labour government, not being a member of the European Union “solves more problems than it creates,” as Weeks notes. He is referring to the fact that many aspects of Corbyn’s manifesto — such as the renationalization of mail, rail, and energy firms and developmental support to specific companies — or other policies that a future Labour government may decide to implement, such as the adoption of capital controls, would be hard to implement under EU law and would almost certainly be challenged by the European Commission and European Court of Justice. After all, the EU was created with the precise intention of permanently outlawing such “radical” policies.

That is why Corbyn must resist the pressure from all quarters — first and foremost within his own party — to back a “soft Brexit.” He must instead find a way of weaving a radically progressive and emancipatory Brexit narrative. A once-in-a-lifetime window of opportunity has opened for the British left — and the European left more in general — to show that a radical break with neoliberalism, and with the institutions that support it, is possible. But it won’t stay open forever.

They ignore this:   New report: the Corbyn moment and European socialism.

Today we are launching a major new report, outlining a fresh strategy to “Remain and Reform” in the EU.

8th March 2018

Transnational institutions such as the EU are essential to pushing forward radical and progressive change, and only if the UK remains in the EU can Corbyn have the necessary influence to achieve these aims.  The report identifies a number of key areas where a Labour government could use the EU to implement its radical programme. These include:

  • Taxing multinationals, including harmonising corporation tax rules and clamping down on tax avoidance.
  • Regulating banks, including with a new financial transaction tax
  • Protecting migrant workers’ rights and strengthening trade unions
  • Digital Rights, where Labour has already played a leading role in the global debate
  • Climate change, using its weight shift EU institutions and overcome big business lobbies
  • Addressing global conflicts, prioritising the security of people, rather than the interests of states, on a humanitarian basis
  • Ending fortress Europe, by radically altering the discourse, opening up legal routes for entry, and treating the refugee crisis as a humanitarian issue, not a security one
  • Reforming the Eurozone, by playing a supportive role and example for progressive anti-austerity parties inside it

A strategy based on National Sovereignty ignores the fact that no country alone is a “sovereign” of the economy, that pooling sovereignty in the EU is the means  to promote these objectives.

If the EU is, as they assert, a “de facto supranational constitutional order “,  what is the British constitutional order? The body administering these processes, the State, is ‘capitalist’, that is, is institutionally wrapped around the existing power structure. It is organised to promote the interests of business. We do not need an elaborate theoretical framework to see this nor can we wish it away by appealing to ‘real’ sovereignty.

The left has to grapple with this problem, just as it would have had to deal with the limits that “pooled sovereignty” creates.

Our strength does not lie in the nation state but in our popular support and the labour movement: expressed by how far we can condense this power in the administration, not just by legislation but by grass roots backing. It would, we hope, be expressed by Parliamentary representation.

What could a Labour government negotiate within a probable framework after an election?

John Palmer has argued (Corbyn Should Stop The UK’s Drift Out Of The EU January 2018)

Labour should drive home the message that being part of a stronger and reforming EU is an essential means for advancing its programme for radical economic and social reform at home. Social democratic, socialist and green parties in the EU believe this is the real basis of Jeremy Corbyn’s approach which is one reason why he was so warmly received during recent meetings in Europe.

If Corbyn is elected PM before the die is cast on the final shape of the UK/EU relationship, he should seek immediate negotiations of his own with the EU. As the incoming PM, leading a government with a new mandate, this would be very unlikely to be denied.

If, however, Labour does not take power until the UK is fully outside the EU, a Corbyn-led government should unilaterally pledge to fully match all future progressive economic, social, labour and democratic reforms agreed at EU level, coordinate closely with the EU on a new Europe-wide economic recovery strategy and serve notice it will seek renewed full membership of a reforming EU at the earliest opportunity.

What exactly is a break with ‘neo-liberalism’?

Only those gifted with immense “political imagination” consider that a  ‘sovereign’ UK  can negotiate a break with capitalism with the WTO and the EU.

The rest of the Fazi list of idées reçues, , “progressive, emancipatory vision…radically alternative to that of both the right and the neoliberals…. popular sovereignty, democratic control over the economy, full employment, social justice, redistribution from the rich to the poor, inclusivity,….the socio-ecological transformation of production and society” is long on rhetoric, short on specifics.

The final rupture with capitalism is, nevertheless, clearly off the cards.

A Labour government would face, inside or outside the EU, a hard task in untangling the multinational ownership of  “mail (Postal services), rail (ways), and energy firms.” Capital controls is a vague term, but it hardly looks an easy objective to carry out on the world stage, a kind of Bretton Woods of one.

Would Labour, having avoided a “soft Brexit” be in a position to reach trade deals with the ‘soveriegntist’ Trump government, or any other, that favour these objectives?

The key issue for a Labour government is austerity. It will face challenges with tackling the under-funding of the NHS,  public services and social security.

Would it be able to wrangle a way of making arrangements with the EU that untie all the legislation regulating the production and trade flows of companies and rebuild them to its wishes in the British Isles?

What kind of socialism aims for ‘national’ sovereignty other than one which restricts this power to this one nation’s people?

The goal of socialists is not a vision of national but international emancipation.

The irony of a US publication being the vehicle for a lecture to the British left on how to embrace sovereignty cannot have escaped many.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 30, 2018 at 1:55 pm

Macron, Un Président Philosophe. Brice Couturier. The Anti-Populist Progressive? Review.

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Macron, Un Président Philosophe. Aucun des ses mots n’est le fruit de hasard. Brice Couturier. Editions l’Observatoire. 

An interview which broke with the deferential traditions of the 5th Republic made the French headlines all week. On Sunday the 15th of April the journalists Jean-Jacques Bourdin and Edwy Plenel questioned the head of state for two hours on the balance-sheet of his administration. Elected with a sweeping majority for the party La République en marche, he defended a policy of immediate reforms, from the rail service, to higher education. Macron “listened” to the anger of opponents – the railway workers, students, aeroplane pilots, functionaries, and the squatters occupying the ZAD at Notre-Dame-des-Landes. But republican norms had to be respected. Universities were victims of “professionnels du désordre” (le Monde 17.4.18).

As the exchange got underway Plenal, the anti-Macron founder of the independent Mediapart, and a former member of the Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire, interrupted. “You are not our Teacher, and we are not your pupils”. An Editorial in Le Monde the previous day talked of Macron as a pedagogue ready to lecture, regardless of the wishes of his audience, until he had completed his lesson. (Macron au cours préparatoire. 14.4.18) Excluding the possibility that the President was unaware of his interlocutor’s troublemaking potential one assumes that a snappy put down far from a chance part of the course.

The Anti-Populist Progressive? 

But what syllabus is France’s President instructing us from? This is far from an issue limited to the Hexagone. There are policies on the European Union. Macron’s “camp progressiste” has stimulated interest amongst homeless supporters of the Third Way, Die Neue Mitte, and the liberal centre. For many of these people Macron represents a successful ‘anti-populist’ unifying force.  Much of the French left, which saw many transfers from the right of the Parti Socialiste (PS) and allied figures, to the new President’s camp, by contrast, announced immediately after his victory that this was a Presidency for the wealthy, for the ‘elite’. For former Socialist Minister Anicet Le Pors, he is “mandated” by international finance, the ruling circles of the EU, the bosses, the administrative technocracy, show business, and nearly all the media. (April 2018. Le Monde Diplomatique)

With the present unrest attracting attention the English-speaking left has been quick to label Macron a neo-liberal, a spin of Tony Blair and Thatcher, out to attack the labour movement and impose markets on the public sphere. The ‘bromance’ with Donald Trump over Syria adds force to the comparison with the former British Prime Minister.

Perry Anderson, in a peremptory post-election account, went deeper. Adorned in best periodic style, he suggested that the “neoliberal reformation of France”, attempted for over three decades, had been impeded on different sides by the constituencies of right and left. Macron, in effect, cut through the various knots tiring up the centre left and right, and formed a real “bloc bourgeois” ready to carry out a liberalisation of the economy, and free up entrepreneurial energy. (1)

But some clarity is needed about the beast in power. There are already plenty of books about the President, and the electoral campaign that swept him to the Élysée. But what is his ideology, beyond carrying out his neoliberal “mandate”? ‘Macronism’ appears a less promising candidate than Thatcherism or even the rebarbative Blairism. A suggestion by Régis Debray that – the reader will have guessed this – that the Head of State represents Americanisation, with a ‘Protestant’ twist (see below), this does not take us far. It might be better said that his ideology is something picked up and stuck together as the result of an academic, administrative, business and political career.

In Macron, un président philosophe, Courtier who has a solid academic, and media background, and a less firm commitment to a form of left wing liberalism, offers us a series of insights into this broad picture. As he indicates, the former assistant to the philosopher Paul Ricœur, graduate of French elite Political and Administrative colleges, Finance Inspector, Rothschild Banker, and Minister under François Hollande, offers rich intellectual pickings. Blair, the erudite few may recall, had the lecturer Peter Thompson at Oxford, and the lessons of reciprocity from John Macmurray, behind his Christian socialism. Macron has somebody, Ricœur, a thinker with a Protestant backdrop, whom people have often heard of, if not read.

The President, we learn, has many many more figures in his hinterland. French books have a vexing lack of indexes. It would be hard work to list every sage cited in un Président philosophe, they range from Hegel, Marx, Carl Schmitt, Nietzsche, Peter Sloterdijk, Joseph Schumpeter, Michael Young (meritocracy), to Jürgen Habermas. This only follows the reference-laden writings and speeches of the book’s subject.

From Ricoeur to Saint Simon. 

It would be useful to boil this down to the essential. To begin with here is the debt to Paul Ricœur. For Courtier he offered the germs of an “identitié narrative” from the individual to the nation, to history. The use for a President of certain ideas about France, recently indicated in recognition to the importance of the legacy of Catholicism, is obvious. Macron has, in other words, considers cultural legacies, the presence of memory, to hold the country together – a view whose originality or interest is not immediately apparent.

Next Macron can be compared to Saint-Simon, the prophet of a society run by “industrials” and “intellectuals”. In this vein he is said to consider globalisation as a system of fluxes to be organised and regulated (Page 253). Finance, the mark of neo-liberalism, is to be channelled to the long-term greater good.

If Macron is a believer in capitalism he acknowledges it is not a system that works smoothly, if with great effort, like some building a planetary network of Saint-Simonian canals. There are moments of creative destruction (Schumpeter), clearing out the old inefficient enterprises, bureaucratic burdens and the “corporatism” of organised labour. ‘Progressive’ states, and the transnational European project, are needed to both facilitate and harness this process. .

Finally, there is building European Sovereignty, and the problems that globalisation creates. Courtier refers to David Goodhart in outlining the problems France faces. (3). Can Macron bring together the France of the “zones péripheriques”, the old working class far from the elite, and the metropolitan “gagnants de la mondialisation” (winners of globalisation), regarded as Macron’s core backing, if not electorate, together? (Pages 291 -2)

The difficulty of reconciling the “somewhere’ salt-of-the-earth folk and the – scorned – “nowhere” cosmopolitans would appear hard for somebody identified with the (however misleadingly) with the latter “bobos”. The task of bringing integration against the ‘identitarians’ of the far-right and those who assert the absolute right to multicultural difference, by the “modèle republican français” appears equally arduous. The often reverential, if not hagiographical tone of Un président philosophe, does not help resolve the difficulties. The use of Goodhart to bolster his opinions indicates a rightward slant with no countervailing force. 

The philosophical commentator Alain famously declared that when somebody says that they are neither right nor left, he is sure of one thing – that they are not of the left. Macron is always careful to declare that he is of the right and the left. But there is a little indication of the latter. Pierre-André Taguieff has represented him as the herald of “successful globalisation”, a Europe in which France would be a “nation-start up” and the “État-enterprise”. To decipher the business-talk Anglicisms that pepper Macron’s speech is to confirm this view.

Managerialism, Saint-Simon, Schumpeter, both far from any conception of “bottom up” democracy, political or economic, and a homeopathic communitarian philosophy suggested by Courtier’s reading of Goodhart, do not make an attractive picture of France’s President. If this is what “progressivism” has become in Europe, than it is doubtful if it will attract many enthusiasts beyond France, and certainly not from left-wingers (3)

The European Project and the left.

In the article cited above Anderson pins the ultimate root of this strategy on the European Project. In the trickle down from his approach, others seize on every obstacle to the EU – Brexit included – as an advance against neo-liberalism. Today’s French strikes and protests – regardless of their specific causes or aims – are considered part of this movement.

But the real issue for the French left, in the aftermath of their defeat, may be said to have been whether Macron could be opposed by the “left populist” strategy of Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s La France insoumise (LFI), to ‘federate the people” against the “elite” or by a new “left bloc” based on alliances between the parties (now stretching from the remains of the PS, Benoît Hamon’s group, the PCF, LFI and its allies, what is left of Les Verts, Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste, NPA) with the social forces presently fighting the wave of Macron reforms. This, as Stefano Palombarini suggested last June, would require an internationalist strategy towards changing the EU that breaks from the populist drift to ‘sovereigntism’. (4)

It is said that with his steam-roller reforms Macron has now been abandoned by whatever support he had from the ‘reformist’ liberal left. That after a year’s presidency he has veered towards authoritarianism  to “jacobinisme vertical”. Whether this is true or not the left is not united. There is no indication that the largest group in the French National Assembly, LFI, at the moment engaged in a “war of movement” to capture hegemony over the left, intends to explore this possibility. It might still be said, that to wrestle the European issue out of the hands of the Macrons and the existing EU system of governance, while fighting the sovereigntists, remains the key issue for our continent’s left, in all its diversity, strengths and weaknesses.

****

(1) The Centre Can Hold. Perry Anderson. New Left Review. No 105. May/June 2017. See: L’Illusion du Bloc Bourgeois. Bruno Amable. Stefano Palombarini. Raisons d’agir. 2017. Speculation that François Hollande and his immediate circle played a part in Macron’s Presidential ascension has waned with the publication of memories reproaching his one-time protégé for his actions.

(2) The Road to Somewhere. The Populist Revolt and the Future of Politics. David Goodhart. Hurst & Company. 2017.

(3) Page 283. Macron: miracle ou mirage? Pierre-André Taguieff. Editions l’Observatoire. August 2017

(4) Face à Macron, la gauche ou le populisme? Stefano Palombarini

Arron Banks, Hard Right Donator to Trade Unionists Against the EU, Embroiled in Cambridge Analytica Scandal.

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Sharing the stage: Brittany Kaiser, circled, sits alongside Arron Banks, the Leave.EU boss, at a press conference in 2015. She has now left Cambridge Analytica.

Brittany Kaiser, circled, sits alongside Arron Banks, the Leave.EU boss, at a press conference in 2015. She has now left Cambridge Analytica.

Arron Banks’ is one of the best-known Brexiteers.

His hard right wing Westmonster site (A full, clean Brexit, defeating radical Islam, ending the scourge of violent crime. These are our priorities. If they are yours as well, please support Westmonster and help us grow), is a conduit for the frequent articles by George Galloway.

As in,

Galloway: The project is subvert Brexit democracy is succeeding

Banks also donated to Trade Unionists Against the EU, a Brexit campaign backed by, amongst others, the Morning Star and the Socialist Party.

Now Arron Banks is in the news for some more skullduggery.

Cambridge Analytica bragged: We have vast data for Brexit vote

Evening Standard.

The founder of Leave.EU, Arron Banks, referred in his book The Bad Boys Of Brexit to CA being “hired” in October 2015. But he told the committee this simply referred to an early meeting and an intention to work together if Leave.EU won lead status, entitling it to spend up to £7 million, get a free mailshot, TV broadcasts and £600,000 public funds, in the referendum campaign. He insisted the group “devised and implemented its own social media strategy … without any input from Cambridge Analytica”.

Confusingly, a CA staffer, Brittany Kaiser, appeared on the platform of a Leave.EU press conference in November 2015 alongside Mr Banks, seemingly to present their campaign plans. She has since left the data company.

But…..

The Guardian leads with this story today,

Cambridge Analytica misled MPs over work for Leave.EU, says ex-director

Exclusive: Brittany Kaiser contradicts CEO, who told MPs the data firm did not work with Brexit campaign group.

Cambridge Analytica conducted data research for one of the leading Brexit campaign groups and then misled the public and MPs over the work the company had undertaken, according to a former employee who has spoken to the Guardian.

In an exclusive interview, Brittany Kaiser, Cambridge Analytica’s business development director until two weeks ago, said the work with Leave.EU involved analysis of data provided by Ukip.

Emails and other documents, seen by the Guardian, show the company was worried about whether it could speak openly about the “interesting findings” and the origins of the data that had been analysed. It decided against doing so.

Kaiser, 30, said the work took a number of weeks and involved “at least six or seven meetings” with senior officials from Leave.EU, which was co-founded by Arron Banks, a Ukip donor. She said the work took place as part of an effort to secure formal business with the campaign group.

Kaiser said she felt she had lied by supporting Cambridge Analytica’s company line that it had done “no paid or unpaid work” for Leave.EU. “In my opinion, I was lying,” she said. “In my opinion I felt like we should say, ‘this is exactly what we did’.”

As Corbyn attacks EU “cheap agency labour”, Europe creates new Agency to End ‘Social Dumping’ and Protect Workers.

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EU Sets up new Authority to Stop Social Dumping.

This section of Jeremy Corbyn’s speech to the Scottish Labour Party at Dundee  continues to create controversy,

We cannot be held back inside or outside the EU from taking the steps we need to develop and invest in cutting edge industries and local business stop the tide of privatisation and outsourcing, or from preventing employers being able to import cheap agency labour to undercut existing pay and conditions in the name of free market orthodoxy.

Here is a recent report.

Jeremy Corbyn has been attacked by senior Scottish Labour figures after making “incredibly disappointing” comments on immigration.

The European.

Former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale and Edinburgh South MP Ian Murray rounded on the Labour leader over remarks on leaving the EU in his speech to the party’s conference in Dundee.

Setting out his position on the Brexit deal, Corbyn said a future Labour government “cannot be held back inside or outside the EU … from preventing employers being able to import cheap agency labour, to undercut existing pay and conditions in the name of free market orthodoxy”.

Speaking at a fringe event hosted by the Scottish Labour for the single market campaign, Murray said: “I’m disappointed that the Labour party is not making this argument – immigration is good for the United Kingdom and Scotland and we have to be brave enough to stand up and make that point.

“And I was incredibly disappointed to see yesterday that the only person smiling after that passage in Jeremy’s speech would have been Nigel Farage.”

Murray said he believed the Labour front bench was the biggest impediment to getting single market membership into the Brexit bill but added: “The country is with us, Labour party membership is with us.

Corbyn’s views on “cheap agency labour” indeed echo the views of  ‘Sovereigntist’ anti-EU forces.

The pro-Brexit Morning Star recently contained this statement from the Communist Party of Britain. (CPB).

Most of British big business wants to keep Britain as closely aligned as possible with the single market because its rules for the free movement of capital, goods and labour, together with the right of companies to operate in any country they choose, enables them to maximise profit at the expense of working people,” Mr Griffiths added.

He highlighted a string of rulings by the European Court of Justice to restrict the rights of elected governments and trade unions to take action to protect imported, outsourced or redundant workers.

The hard-line anti-EU Socialist Party has argued for no ‘soft Brexit’ and dropping all legislation that allows the free movement of labour .   On  the 28th of February it declared,

EU rules have included the posted workers’ directive which enables bosses to use migrant labour to undercut existing wage levels.

If any of these groups, and Corbyn’s speech-writers, had bothered to follow the latest developments in the EU, they would have noticed that a wholesale reform of the “posted workers” directive is underway.

Here is the existing situation,

A “posted worker” is an employee who is sent by his employer to carry out a service in another EU Member State on a temporary basis.

For example, a service provider may win a contract in another country and send his employees there to carry out the contract.

Posted workers are different from EU mobile workers in that they remain in the host Member State temporarily and do not integrate in its labour market.

On the contrary, EU mobile citizens who go to another Member State to seek workand are employed there, are entitled to equal treatment with nationals in access to employment, working conditions and all other social and tax conditions.

Rights and rules for posted workers

The EU law defines a set of mandatory rules regarding the terms and conditions of employment to be applied to posted workers

  • to guarantee that these rights and working conditions are protected throughout the EU
  • to avoid “social dumping” where foreign service providers can undercut local service providers because their labour standards are lower.

These rules establish that, even though workers posted to another Member State are still employed by the sending company and therefore subject to the law of that Member State, they are entitled by law to a set of core rights in force in the host Member State.

This set of rights consists of:

  •    minimum rates of pay;
  •    maximum work periods and minimum rest periods;
  •    minimum paid annual leave;
  •    the conditions of hiring out workers through temporary work agencies;
  •    health, safety and hygiene at work;
  •   equal treatment between men and women.

However, there is nothing to stop the employer applying working conditions which are more favourable to workers than those of the sending Member State.

The EU law thus provides a clear framework to guarantee fair competition and respect for the posted workers’ rights so that both businesses and workers can take full advantage of the internal market opportunities.

The social security of posted workers is regulated through Regulation no 883/2004on the coordination of social security systems. A detailed guide explaining the applicable rules is available.

In the light of problems with enforcing these rules there has been extensive discussion of reform.

Réforme du travail détaché (Posted workers) : les institutions européennes trouvent un terrain d’entente. 1.3.18.

European Commission – Statement

Joint statement on the revision of the Posting of Workers Directive

Brussels, 28 February 2018

Joint statement by European Parliament Co-Rapporteurs Elisabeth Morin-Chartier and Agnes Jongerius, Bulgarian Deputy Minister for Labour and Social Policy Zornitsa Roussinova and Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility Marianne Thyssen on the revision of the Posting of Workers Directive:

After intensive negotiations this evening we, the negotiators on behalf of the European Parliament, the Council and Commission, are satisfied to have covered all issues during the 7th trilogue meeting. We reached a common understanding on the contours of a possible agreement on the revision of the Posting of Workers Directive. We believe that the proposed package agreement on the table is balanced. The possible agreement establishes the principle of equal pay for equal work on the same place, whilst providing more legal certainty for both workers and employers.

We will now present the results of our negotiations within our respective institutions and will do our utmost to secure the mandates necessary for the final conclusion.

The outcome was announced this morning.

Bruxelles présente la création d’une nouvelle Autorité européenne du travail.

150 people are to be employed to enforce the law, prevent social dumping (the undercutting of wages and conditions), and  stop the abuse of migrant labour – though as this link indicates, some states are bound to be recalcitrant.

L’Europe a pris des mesures sur les travailleurs détachés, la lutte contre le dumping social, la mobilité au sein de l’Union etc. Mais encore faut-il que ces règles soient bien appliquées par les États. Or ce n’est pas le cas. Dans la réalité, certains pays, notamment de l’Est, ferment les yeux sur les abus car ça les arrange bien et si les administrations locales ne font rien, personne ne peut le vérifier. Ce sera donc le rôle de cette nouvelle Agence, d’aller demander des informations et d’enquêter pour voir si, réellement, les règles sociales sont bien appliquées de la même manière dans tous les pays de l’Union.

Update, just out: (Libération),  Bruxelles propose de créer une autorité européenne du Travail en 2019

European Commission – Press release

Commission adopts proposals for a European Labour Authority and for access to social protection

Strasbourg, 13 March 2018

Today, the European Commission is taking more concrete new initiatives to further deliver on the European Pillar of Social Rights.

More specifically, the Commission presents its proposal for a European Labour Authority, as announced by President Juncker in his 2017 State of the Union address, as well as an initiative to ensure access to social protection for all workers and self-employed. These initiatives are accompanied by a Communication on the monitoring of the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights, which will be closely linked to the European Semester of policy coordination.

Vice-President for the Euro and Social Dialogue, Valdis Dombrovskis, said“Europe is now steadily growing and employment is on the rise, but we have to ensure that growth is more inclusive to the benefit of all. This package sets out a number of steps to make that happen: by making sure the rules for people to live and work across the European Union are well known and enforced, by following up on the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights, pushing the broader momentum for social rights, and by focusing on access to social protection. A stronger social Europe is a more sustainable Europe.”

Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, added: Our work to ensure fair labour mobility culminates in today’s proposal for a European Labour Authority. This is essential for a well-functioning European labour market. It will help citizens and businesses on the move find the right information and strengthen cooperation between the Member States to enforce fair and effective rules. And with our proposal on access to social protection, we are working with Member States to make sure that nobody is left behind. Our aim is to ensure that people have access to adequate benefits no matter how the new world of work evolves.”

Over the last decade, the number of mobile citizens, people living and/or working in another Member State, has almost doubled to reach 17 million in 2017. The European Labour Authority will help individuals, businesses and national administrations to get the most out of the opportunities offered by free movement and to ensure fair labour mobility. The objective of the Authority is three-fold.

First, the Authority will provide information to citizens and business on opportunities for jobs, apprenticeships, mobility schemes, recruitments and training, as well as guidance on rights and obligations to live, work and/or operate in another Member State of the EU.

Second, the Authority will support cooperation between national authorities in cross-border situations, by helping them ensure that the EU rules that protect and regulate mobility are easily and effectively followed. Today, an extensive body of EU legislation regulates the free movement of workers and a number of such rules are being amended and modernised, such asfor the coordination of social security systems across the EU and issues like posting of workers in the context of service provision. The priority is not just to make these rules fairer and fit-for-purpose but also to make sure that they can be correctly applied and enforced in a fair, simple and effective way in all economic sectors. For instance, the Authority will help improve information exchange, support capacity building among national authorities and assist them in running concerted and joint inspections. This will strengthen mutual trust between actors, improve day-to-day cooperation routines and prevent possible fraud and abuse of rules.

Third, the European Labour Authority will be able to provide mediation and facilitate solutions in case of cross-border disputes, such as in the event of company restructuring involving several Member States.

The European Labour Authority will be established as a new decentralised EU agency and, following the completion of the EU legislative process, should be up and running in 2019. To facilitate the establishment of the Authority and make sure it is rapidly up and running once created, the Commission is also setting up an advisory group composed of key stakeholders to look into the practical aspects of the future functioning of the Authority.

The Commission is also presenting today a proposal for a Council Recommendation on access to social protection for workers and the self-employed. As the world of work evolves due to new lifestyles, business practices and digitisation, social protection systems constantly need to match new realities. Today, almost 40% of people employed are either in an atypical employment situation – meaning that they are not working under a full-time, open-ended contract – or self-employed. Such persons are not always well covered in terms of social security, lacking unemployment insurance or access to pension rights. In line with the European Pillar of Social Rights, this proposal aims to set a direction for Member States to support access to social protection for all workers and self-employed, in particular for those who, due to their employment status, are not sufficiently covered by social security schemes.

The Recommendation foresees:

  • to close formal coverage gaps by ensuring that workers and the self-employed in comparable conditions can adhere to corresponding social security systems;
  • to offer them adequate effective coverage, so that they can build up and claim adequate entitlements;
  • to facilitate the transfer of social security entitlements from one job to the next;
  • to provide workers and the self-employed with transparent information about their social security entitlements and obligations.

Finally, as a complement to the initiatives already taken and still to come at EU level, the Commission outlines its views for the monitoring of the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights. This will be done by reflecting the priorities of the European Pillar of Social Rights in the annual cycle of the European Semester of policy coordination, which includes an analysis of measures taken and progress made at national level; the provision of technical assistance, benchmarking exercises and exchange of good practices; and the screening of employment and social performances, also with the help of the new Social Scoreboard, which tracks trends and performances across EU Member States in the three areas of principles under the Pillar of Social Rights. The Commission is also publishing today a staff working document recalling the legal framework for each of the principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights, with due regard to the respective competences of the EU and of the Member States, including the role of the social partners and recent EU-level actions in each area.

Next steps

European Labour Authority: In accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure, this proposal for a Regulation will now be examined by the European Parliament and the Council. The ambition of the Commission is for the Authority to be up and running in 2019.

Access to social protection: This will now be examined by the Council, which can adopt recommendations on the basis of a Commission proposal in the areas of EU competence.

The Commission will present today’s package of initiatives to national Employment and Social Affairs Ministers at the Council meeting in Brussels on 15 March. At the European Council of 22 and 23 March 2018, Heads of State and Government will also come back to addressing the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights.

Background

The Commission’s intention to set up a European Labour Authority was announced by President Juncker in his State of the Union Address on 13 September 2017. The European Labour Authority will complement and facilitate the implementation of ongoing initiatives to ensure fair mobility, including the reform of the Posting of Workers Directive, the Lex Specialis in the international road transport sector and the modernisation of EU rules for the coordination of social security systems.

Increased labour market flexibility and a growing diversity of forms of work have created new jobs and allowed more people to become professionally active, as recalled during the consultation on the European Pillar of Social Rights and in the Reflection Paper on the Social Dimension of Europe. But they also led to some gaps in social protection coverage that need to be closed. The Commission’s proposal for a Council Recommendation on access to social protection is a response to these changing labour market realities, in particular the new forms of work that have developed in recent years. The initiative was announced in April 2017 together with the European Pillar of Social Rights. It is part of the 2017 and 2018 Commission Work Programmes and follows a two-stage consultation of EU social partners.

These initiatives are part of the roll-out of the European Pillar of Social Rights, which was jointly proclaimed at the Social Summit for Fair Jobs and Growth in Gothenburg in November 2017. Delivering on the European Pillar of Social Rights is a shared political commitment and responsibility and monitoring its implementation is essential for ensuring tangible progress on the ground. This is why in today’s Communication, the Commission takes stock of initiatives that it has taken to roll out the Pillar, including an initiative on work-life balance and proposal for transparent and predictable working conditions in the European Union.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 13, 2018 at 1:50 pm

As Corbyn backs EU Customs Union, from the ‘Lexit’ fringes, Galloway attacks ‘Stab in the Back”.

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Corbyn Moves to back EU Customs Union.

Corbyn: Labour would stay in EU customs union for a say in trade deals

Guardian – for more rolling news follow link.

BBC: Jeremy Corbyn backs permanent customs union after Brexit

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has backed the UK being in a permanent customs union with the EU in a speech setting out his approach to Brexit.

He said this would avoid the need for a “hard border” in Northern Ireland and ensure free-flowing trade for business.

The policy shift could lead to Labour siding with Tory rebels to defeat Theresa May on her Brexit strategy.

The Tories said it was “a cynical attempt” to frustrate Brexit “and play politics with our country’s future”.

The Mail says,

Corbyn’s Brexit betrayal: Labour leader to snub millions of voters by refusing to limit migration and kill off dream of striking trade deals

Jeremy Corbyn was accused of a Brexit ‘betrayal’ last night as he prepared to set out plans that would keep Britain shackled to Brussels.

The Labour leader is expected to say he will sacrifice the ability to strike new trade deals in order to keep Britain locked in an EU customs union – and allow free movement to continue.

In his most significant Brexit speech since the referendum today, he will also call for a ‘close relationship’ with the single market, citing Norway and Switzerland as examples of the kind of deal he is seeking.

Brexit Secretary David Davis said Mr Corbyn ‘seems certain to break the commitments he made to Labour voters at the last election’.

Pro-Brexit Labour MPs warned their leader he risked betraying millions of party supporters who voted to take Britain out of the EU. Former minister Frank Field said keeping the country shackled to Brussels would be ‘to rat on the people’s decision to leave’.

Writing on the far-right Westmonster site, George Galloway says,

Labour’s volunteered to kill off Brexit, they’ll be labelled ‘betrayers’  by George Galloway

Sir Keir Starmer is an excellent backstabber. Nobody knows that better than Jeremy Corbyn who has just been led by the nose by him like a beast to the slaughter in what Frank Field the Labour MP has described as a “deadly electoral trap”.

Starmer was a key conspirator in the coup against Corbyn in 2016, resigning from the Shadow Cabinet in the most insulting and wounding way. Yet Corbyn, it is clear, has been led by the QC MP into an actual U-Turn – and one which ineluctably will lead to a second and thereafter, why not, a third.

Labour has now volunteered to be the executioner of Brexit, Theresa May, to her considerable relief no doubt, will be the champion of the 17.4 million betrayed. The stage is set.

The label “betrayer” will be pinned to the back of every Labour MP (virtually none will be “deselected”) in the 70% of Labour-held constituencies which voted Leave in the referendum and the many others which Labour came close to winning in 2017 and now will not.

The “stab in the back” narrative which will now be spun by the Tories and their press backers will be overwhelmingly powerful. The gratitude of the Macchiato-classes will be scant and short-lived and electorally useless in vast tracts of the country.

..

This represents a defeat for Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell – whose policies for Britain cannot be implemented with Britain in the Single Market – whether they have gone along with it or not. It represents a victory for Tony Blair and his ramp within the Parliamentary Labour Party and the Labour apparatus, whose leader Ian McNicholl is shortly to re-emerge wearing the ermine robes at last.

U-turn if you want to Mr Corbyn. I and millions like me are not for turning.

Others agree – in a slightly more muted form – with the Galloway position broadcast on Westmonster.

“Staying in the single market would make it much harder—not easier—for a Labour government to stick to Corbyn’s left wing manifesto promises.”

The Socialist Party has attacked the” right-wing Labour shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer” and claimed that,  “A bold stand by Jeremy Corbyn against the anti-working class treaties and policies of the EU could electrify the debate across Europe.”

What do they think now that Comrade Starmer appears to have won the debate?

Corbyn loyalists in the Morning Star meanwhile celebrate this victory.

More responses: Was Corbyn’s speech a bold Brexit vision, or playing politics? The panel verdict

Owen Jones: A clear contrast with the Tories.

David Shariatmadari: The best remainers could have hoped for.

Faiza Shaheen: Some much-needed pragmatism.

Katy Balls: This spells trouble for Theresa May.

Only fanatical Priest Gilles Fraser, previously only known for his religious musings and loathing of the anti-clerical Charlie Hebdo, strikes a sour note,

The gap between old-style socialists and young liberals is now great than ever within the Labour party. At stake in the debate over Brexit is the degree of comfort with which Labour embraces market forces as a necessary evil of the modern world. Some of us had hoped that Corbyn would be the one to put a stake through the heart of New Labour. But in the end he appears to have bottled it.

Written by Andrew Coates

February 26, 2018 at 1:42 pm

Labour, the Customs Union and a Marxist Case against Brexit.

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Image result for Communist Party Lexit

Lexit Mythomania.

It has been said that Trotskyism is noted for ‘mythomania’. (1)

Whether on not that is true for Trotskyists the word fits the myth-spinning Lexit’ – pro-Brexit – left to a T.

Recently the leader of Counterfire asserted,

Labour should stick with its People’s Brexit strategy argues John Rees”.

I can’t recall Labour ever campaigning for or deciding in favour of a ‘People’s Brexit’, although few would doubt that Labour is in favour of a “A new economic settlement that works for the many.”

And Rees’ wish list of “better than the EU not worse than the EU.” is an interesting suggestion coming from a faction that supported leaving the EU under a Tory government that was bound to make things worse.

As Catherine West MP has written in the Independent (30.1.18),

It has often been argued by advocates of “Lexit” that a hard Brexit will allow a future Labour government to end austerity. That by leaving the single market and customs union and shaking off the shackles of Brussels we will have more freedom to invest in the economy.

This is nonsense. The reality is that austerity in the UK has been a political choice, made by this Tory Government, and has nothing to do with the EU or single market rules. EU rules impose no restriction whatsoever on the level of public spending. Its strictures are about deficits, that is, how much, in normal times, governments finance their spending by borrowing instead by taxation. Crucial is that the rules allow governments the flexibility to deliberately spend in a Keynesian manner during a recession and to invest.

Let’s be clear: a hard Brexit, whereby we leave the single market and customs union, will cause an economic loss that will reduce tax receipts and therefore risk an extension or intensification of austerity.

All credible economic analyses of the long-term cost of Brexit have found broadly the same hierarchy of effects: the further Britain travels from the single market, the greater the economic loss. Indeed, the Government’s leaked analysis, published by Buzzfeed, of the impact of Brexit says that the UK would be worse off under all scenarios. Furthermore, most estimates of the cost of Brexit may well be conservative and do not include uncertainty, business confidence and flight of EU workers, which will have a negative effect on the UK’s productivity.

She concludes,

for as long as the Conservatives remain in power, leaving the single market risks the extension of austerity for years to come, on top of the last decade of public spending cuts.

This is the report the article is based on: Busting the Lexit Myths.

The choice is clear. We can sit back and wait for the consequences of a hard Brexit to become so severe that it topples this terrible Tory government. Or we can stand up for those who will be worst affected and fight for membership of the Single Market and the Customs Union. Future generations will not forgive us for inaction or for perceived complicity in a Brexit that damages our country and our economy. Those of us on the left who believe in building a more equal, more prosperous and sustainable country must not be duped into supporting a Tory agenda that would do the opposite.

This brochure comes highly recommended from the guardians of Parliamentary Sovereignty in the Communist Party of Britain, as the product of  “Forces set on subverting the Brexit vote (who) have targetted the labour movement.”

Perhaps Counterfire, who campaigned for Brexit, alongside Trade Unionists Against the European Union (recently embroiled in controversy over their funding from hard-right millionaire Arron Banks), could bear this in mind and take a look at the real political debate over the EU.

If it’s not too much trouble

The BBC reports today,

Labour and customs union: Evolution not revolution. 

The Labour position has been to argue that “a” customs union was “a viable option” and that the government should “keep all options open”.

What we are likely to see on Monday is wording that makes plain that “a” not “the” customs union would have distinct benefits and is the most logical way to solve the thorny issue of the Irish border.

It won’t just be a viable option but a viable end point. And the policy is likely to evolve in another way too.

Currently Labour recognises that when we are out of the EU, we are out of the single market.

So it is arguing that it wants to retain the same benefits as single market membership – such as tariff-free trade.

I’m told the same formulation could be applied to “a” customs union, that in the long term a future Labour government could sign up to one, if the UK got the exact same benefits as it gets from “the” customs union – frictionless trade and a say over the external tariff on imported goods.

As Labour has talked about the benefits of some form of customs union before, this would be an incremental not dramatic move forward.

However party insiders say that Jeremy Corbyn can’t guarantee that a future Labour government would definitely be in such a customs union because it would have to be negotiated with the EU.

But one insider said that people listening on Monday will have no doubt where Labour is headed: That a customs union is the preferred option.

Speaking on LBC radio, Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry gave credence to this by saying: “We have to negotiate a new agreement. That, we think, is likely to be a customs union that will look pretty much like the current customs union.”

On the strategy to take the New Statesman carried this article a few days ago,

A Marxist case against Brexit: Trade union leader Manuel Cortes on what Labour should do.

The TSSA General Secretary  states,

Cortes has called for the UK to remain in the EU. “Any Brexit deal that introduces friction and borders will finish off the job that Thatcher started because our manufacturing industry will just dwindle away,” he warns. A “soft Brexit” (remaining in the single market and the customs union), meanwhile, would condemn the UK to “vassal statehood” by making it “a rule-taker, rather than a rule-maker”.

Will Labour listen to this pro-EU view, one which many on the left (outside fringe groups like Counterfire or the Sovereigntist Morning Star) share?

But Labour’s 2017 manifesto pledged to end free movement and Corbyn has refused to endorse a new referendum on Brexit (Cortes was said to be “furious” when the issue was not debated at last year’s party conference). “The Tories are having a conversation with themselves, I think we need to have a conversation with the country,” says Cortes. “Labour is ideally placed to start that conversation.”

Does he believe that Corbyn, a lifelong Eurosceptic, could yet change his mind? “My view is that Jeremy listens to people and he will continue to look at what the facts are,” Cortes says. “And as those facts change, and he continues to listen to people, I’m sure he could change his mind. I see no reason why he would be fixated on any position.”

The AWL certainly agrees,

The resignation of the Blairite Lord Adonis from his position as adviser to the Tory government has shown the issue of Brexit, and whether or not to try and stop it, is not over in the Labour Party.

A new survey has suggested that allegedly 78% of Labour members want Brexit to be stopped or at least want a second referendum.

Up until last year’s election the right-wing of Labour (notably Progress) had only half-heartedly taken up the issue of stopping Brexit. They avoided directly opposing Brexit because they feared the electoral power of nationalistic sentiment.
They couched their opposition to Brexit primarily as the need to retain membership of the EU single market, aware that there was considerable cross-party concern about the impact of withdrawal on business.

For the left in the Party, issues of migrant rights and the growth of political nationalism were the major concern. Last autumn the Labour Campaign For Free Movement collected hundreds of signatures on a statement calling for the Party to be unambiguous in its defence of migration.

For Workers’ Liberty, opposing Brexit required taking the issue of defending migrants into “Leave” sections of the working class. These were often poorer sections of the class: unorganised and politically demoralised by decades of austerity.

Our positive case should include developing real links with the rest of the radical workers’ movement in Europe and transforming the EU.

Moving toward government, a radical Labour Party can energise the European labour movement. We can stop Brexit, challenge austerity on a cross-European basis and stop the nationalist narrative trapping British workers.

We need a working-class campaign to stop Brexit.

 

(1) A term which is something of a leitmotif in Christophe NickLes Trotskistes, Fayard, 2002,