On 1 December the Lisbon Treaty will come into force. The new European Union of 27 member states will acquire a more or less workable political structure, and one in many ways more unified than the old structures for six, ten, or fifteen states.
More decisions will be made by a sufficiently large majority rather than by unanimity. The European Parliament will have more powers. There will be a EU president. An Charter of Fundamental Rights will set a baseline across the EU, although Britain has got an "opt-out" intended to ensure that the Charter cannot be used to ease Britain's anti-union laws,
The nudging-down of barriers between nations, the establishment of more or less free movement for people across a whole continent, the creation of a larger political structure more in line with the scale of modern technology and economic affairs - all these are steps forward, from the point of view of the labour movement, the working class, and the prospects for real democracy and for socialism.
It would have been better if the semi-unification of Europe had been done democratically, transparently, faster, and without the accompaniment of EU policies which make the neo-liberal consensus shared by the EU's capitalist governments into EU directives. That could not have happened without the labour movement being stronger and more unified across Europe. So the bourgeoisies have carried through the semi-unification, in their own way.
It will be better now if the cause of European unity can now be taken in hand by the labour movement. That cannot happen until the labour movement across Europe rallies itself, unifies itself, and develops a common purpose and a common campaign. And that, in turn, cannot happen until the activists of the labour movement clearly recognise the bourgeois semi-unification of Europe as a fact, a progress, and something to build on and go forward from.
The most obstinate opponents of the Lisbon Treaty were the Czech Republic's hardline-neoliberal president Vaclav Klaus, and the British Tories. Those on the left who campaigned to stop the Lisbon Treaty - to prefer to keep up the barriers between nations in the expanded EU, to try to stall the process of EU integration - were really only giving backhanded aid to those right-wing forces, who fear that EU integration may be used to impose some social "levelling-up" on them.
The workers of Europe need our own "Lisbon Treaty" - an agreement to move forward towards a unified labour movement for a semi-unified Europe.