SP International

European Commission threatens to leave small firms in the lurch


23 Nov 2014Michaël van Straalen, president of MKB-Nederland, which represents small and medium-sized Dutch firms, during the SP’s day for smaller businesses

Since 2009 the Commission has been examining new legislation for its effects on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). This ‘SME test’ forms part of the impact assessment which the Commission must in principle attach to every proposal. Evidently the Commission finds all of this work too much, because in new guidelines the SME test no longer forms an obligatory part of the impact assessment. Chances are then that the interests of small firms will be overshadowed, but we are not simply going to let this happen. In a motion which will be voted on this week in Strasbourg, we attempt to make it the Commission’s duty to perform an SME impact assessment on all new proposals. The SP stands up for the interests of the smaller business.

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Harry van Bommel: Does Foreign Minister Koenders really want to get rid of nuclear weapons?

20 Nov 2014Do you really want to get rid of nuclear weapons? I put this question this week to the new Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bert Koenders. I remember very well the backbench Member of Parliament Bert Koenders who advocated the removal of nuclear weapons from the whole of Europe and a change to NATO’s nuclear strategy. As an MP Koenders wanted to ensure that NATO would never be the first party to a conflict to use nuclear weapons, by means of what is known as a 'no first use declaration’. Now he himself sits at the head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he can make the difference.

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Kox: ‘European diplomacy is not about making friends but reducing animosity’

18 Nov 2014'The Council of Europe must make better use of the possibilities that it has to act against the current crisis in Ukraine and the threat of a new Cold War. Too much is now being left to the European Union and the United States, who are clearly not in a position to bring about reconciliation. A treaty organisation of which every European country is a member has the right to call those members to account over their obligations under the treaty in order to preserve peace and protect wellbeing.’ So said SP Senator Tiny Kox following discussions in Brussels.

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SP Senator Kox: Isolating Russia would be dangerous

14 Nov 2014The Council of Europe is continuing to seek a means of restoring cooperation with the State Duma - the Russian Parliament - within Europe’s biggest and oldest treaty organisation, according to SP Senator Tiny Kox. Kox’s statement followed discussions this week in Moscow with the leadership of the State Duma and the Russian delegation in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

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'Honest firms and ordinary citizens are the victims of multinationals' tax evasion'

5 Nov 2014Because multinational corporations are having to pay less and less tax on their profits, ordinary citizens and small and medium-sized businesses must dig ever deeper.

This is confirmed by the Netherlands’ National Auditors following a comprehensive investigation into tax evasion by multinationals carried out on the initiative of the SP and the small parliamentary party the Green Left. According to the Auditors, when it comes to rates of tax on multinationals the Netherlands can even be compared to the notorious tax haven Luxembourg.

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SP: Take the European Court of Auditors seriously – end the senseless back and forth of money

5 Nov 2014For the 20th time in succession the European Court of Auditors has responded negatively to the European Commission’s budgetary accounts. The Court of Auditors’ report is alarming. With the revelations of a large number of irregularities at the Commission it is becoming ever clearer that for some time not all of the money has gone where it was intended to go.

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Time for an international approach to tax evasion

4 Nov 2014On an invitation from the British Parliament, MPs, researchers and business people from different countries came together in London to discuss how tax evasion should be tackled. This was badly needed, because decision-making on the approach to tax evasion is often immune to the influence of national parliaments, despite the fact that the consequences of tax evasion for society are enormous.

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Drowning people must be rescued, whether you’re Italy or the EU

31 Oct 2014On 1st November the Italian government will cease its large-scale commitment of its own navy to the rescue of refugees threatened by death as their ships founder in Italian waters. Eight European Union member states, including the Netherlands, will take over some of the tasks needed, but will have to do what they can with a third of the money previously available. The operation, moreover, will be performed under the aegis of Frontex, the service responsible for guarding the EU’s exterior frontier, and as such is not specifically directed at saving the lives of drowning people. Amnesty International is hugely concerned about the situation now arising. The SP shares these concerns. Italy must fulfil its international obligations and continue to perform active rescue operations. The member states and the European Commission must now step up the pressure on Italy and not wait for the next shipwreck with hundreds of victims. At the same time a structural solution must be sought, in cooperation with Italy, for the enormous numbers of migrants and refugees looking to enter the EU via Italy. Work must at last be started on the establishment of a European asylum centre.

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Harry van Bommel: EU must monitor rule of law in the member states

31 Oct 2014The US has issued stern criticisms of Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban as a result of the authoritarian tendencies he exhibits, restrictions on the free press, and the demonization of civil society. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland even accuses Hungary of “sleep(ing) under your Nato Article 5 blanket at night while pushing ‘illiberal democracy’ by day.” This American criticism is absolutely justified and should make the European Union think. The EU should go so far as to develop instruments to subject member states to tests regarding core values and where necessary to call them to account, argues Harry van Bommel.

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