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For the first time the Constitution gives the EU powers to intervene in public service provision. For instance, Article III-220 says that: 'In order to promote its overall harmonious development, the Union (EU) shall develop and pursue its action leading to the strengthening of its economic, social and territorial cohesion".

The lack of clarity in these articles gives the EU the right to, among other policies, demand that a member state cut public spending or restrict entitlement to certain state provided benefits.

The European Commission famously urged Gordon Brown when he was chancellor to cut 10 billion from the government's projected spending increases in order to reduce the UK's public sector borrowing requirement.

In any dispute between a member state and Brussels over the interpretation of an article, the European Court of Justice, which exists to promote EU integration, will have the final say.

Article III-278 will also give Brussels the right to engage in action aimed at 'improving public health, preventing human illness and diseases, and obviating sources of danger to physical and mental health'. The Commission will gain the right to establish 'guidelines and indicators. periodic monitoring and evaluation'. It should be remembered in this context, that the European Central Bank has speculated that the range of free services offered by the NHS may have to be curtailed because of their allegedly inflationary potential.

Although some member states may spend more as a percentage of GDP on 'health services' none have achieved the scale of free services won in Britain and many of their costs are on the administration of costly insurance schemes. Exporting privatsation The constitution also permits the imposition of such policies on countries outside the EU through the trade and investment agreements the EU concludes under its Common Commercial Policy. It lays down as one of the objectives of the EU "a highly competitive social market economy", but there is no definition of the term "social market".

This is a term taken from the German Constitution and, in EU speak, means little more than maximising capitalist competition. Article III-147 of the constitution states that "a European framework law shall establish the measures in order to achieve the liberalisation of a specific service.' It goes on to say that "priority shall as a general rule be given to those services which directly affect production costs or the liberalisation of which helps to promote trade in goods".

The political commitment of the constitution to the creation of a market economy across the EU is confirmed by Article III-148 which commits member states to: "declare their readiness to undertake the liberalisation of services beyond the extent required" by Article III-147. "To this end, the Commission shall make recommendations to the member states concerned", it says. All these rules remain in the Renamed Constitution. Permanent neo-liberalism The constitution of any normal state lays down the framework for political decision-making. Those decisions are left to political debate between the parties, abiding by the constitution's rules.

However, the EU constitution is different. It enshrines a particular economic system based on an extreme neo-liberal ideology to be imposed on 450 million Europeans. The constitution turns the fundamental principles of "free competition" across national boundaries into constitutional objectives, to be enforced by the EU Court of Justice. It enshrines as a constitutional principle the extreme monetarist economic policy of the European Central Bank, whose sole brief in setting interest rates and controlling the money supply of the eurozone is to ensure stability of prices, not maximise economic growth, foster employment or advance social cohesion.

It would be like signing up to permanent Thatcherism. As a result of these policies the eurozone is now one of the world's economicblackspots. Even the pro-EU constitution Minister for Europe Denis MacShane recently admitted that he would "under no circumstances" have supported euro membership.

Article I-8 of the constitution states that "The currency of the Union shall be the euro." If the constitution is adopted, all EU member states will in effect be constitutionally committed to abolishing their national currencies and joining the ailing eurozone, even though 13 of the present 25 EU members still retain their national currencies.


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