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European Parliament refuses to address exploitation and displacement of workers

April 16th, 2014 The European Parliament today ratified the agreement with the Council of Ministers on a new law designed to counter the abuse of the posting of workers within the EU. ‘The existing European rules governing posting of workers leave a great deal of scope for exploitation and displacement on the labour market,’ SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong explains. ‘This is about illegal practices, but also about adept use of existing legal loopholes. I voted against the proposal, however, because it offers no guarantee of equal pay for equal work. Moreover, it’s more of a restriction than a reinforcement of checks on illegal practices. Market fundamentalism has won out here over protection for workers. It’s disappointing to see that the Greens and some of the social democrats voted in favour.’

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Halfhearted decision from European Parliament on transparency register

April 15th, 2014 The European Parliament today voted on the evaluation of the transparency register, which lobbyists are supposed to use to be open about any business which involves the European Commission or the European Parliament. ‘As things stand the register is voluntary,’ says SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong. ‘The European Parliament has in the past expressed support for an obligatory register, but although it continues to claim to be a supporter of such, all of the proposals to realise this were today rejected. This is therefore a missed opportunity. Only in 2017 will the register be once again evaluated and until then we will be lumbered with a half-baked instrument.’

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European Commissioner leaves truckdrivers out in the cold

April 15th, 2014 Members of the European Parliament from every major political group, under the leadership of the SP’s Dennis de Jong, today met with European Commissioner for Transport Siim Kallas. De Jong handed the Commissioner the first wave of protest letters from Dutch, Belgian and Danish drivers. The meeting followed yesterday’s appearance of an investigative report on the transport sector from Kallas, a report which, in De Jong’s view ‘fails to come up to scratch in any way. The Commission predicts with confidence that wages in Europe will even out: in other words, the Dutch driver must simply be content with half of his or her customary salary. It does acknowledge the existence of social problems, but fails to see in these any obstacle to the liberalisation of domestic road transport. Kallas confirmed that the Commission is not itself intending to propose further liberalisation, but for fully a year he has made no move whatsoever to tackle appalling conditions in the road transport sector.’

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Van Bommel urges enquiry into Turkish involvement in Syrian war

April 15th, 2014 SP Member of Parliament Harry van Bommel wants to see an independent international enquiry into possible Turkish involvement in the war in Syria. ‘A lot of reports are coming out regarding the role Turkey is playing in neighbouring Syria,’ says Van Bommel. ‘It’s high time that someone looked more deeply into this in order that the extent and nature of Turkish support can be made clear. Tomorrow I’ll be asking (Foreign Minister) Timmermans to advocate an international enquiry.’

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Week of truth for transparency in the European Parliament

April 14th, 2014 This week it will become clear whether the European Parliament is serious about transparency or whether all of its pronouncements on the issue have been mere election rhetoric. On 14th April lobby watchdog ALTER-EU will ask all candidates in the forthcoming European Parliament elections to sign a pledge: are they for transparency or not? The SP’s European team will be keeping a close eye on this and will continue to report. We’ll see clearly which candidates really want to tackle this. On Tuesday the EP will vote on the evaluation of the transparency register, which, as SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong explains ‘is incomplete. Lots of lobbyists have yet to register. That’s why I’ve proposed a number of improvements, including an obligation on European Union officials to meet only with registered lobbyists.’ De Jong adds that ‘this is also the week in which we’ll find out whether EP president Martin Schulz can stay in office following his recent attempt to cover up matters that impugn his own integrity.’

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Weeklog Dennis de Jong: The commercialisation of the Dutch state

April 13th, 2014 Last year SP Member of Parliament Harry van Bommel put a number of questions on the matter to the government, yet this year too I received an invitation to a party that the Dutch Embassy in Brussels is organising on the occasion of our national day (Queen’s Day last year, now, following the Queen’s abdication, King’s Day, 30th April). In itself all very nice, except that it came with a card which informed us that five multinationals had covered some of the costs. That might be suitable for the King’s line of work, as he sees himself also as a commercial traveller, but I find it scandalous in relation to diplomacy, which ought to be independent of any corporate interest.

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Council of Europe must unambiguously condemn illegal annexation of Crimea

April 10th, 2014 Russia’s annexation of the Crimea is a clear transgression of international law, SP Senator Tiny Kox said today while speaking on behalf of the United Left Group, which he chairs, during a meeting of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). ‘As long as Russia fails to retrace its steps, the country will be isolated from the rest of the international community. It is the job of the Parliamentary Assembly to condemn this annexation unambiguously in order to do what we must do: preserve the rule of law and protect all of our citizens.’

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Brussels bank lobby must be cut down to size

April 9th, 2014 The numerical strength of the financial lobby in Brussels is even greater than was expected: this was the most significant result included today in a report from Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) entitled The Fire Power of the Financial Lobby. The report shows that the financial sector spends more than €120 million per annum on lobbying in Brussels, for which it has available more than 1,700 lobbyists. Erik Wesselius, No 4 on the SP’s list of candidates for May’s European elections , says that ‘we knew that the bank lobby has, since the banking crisis, used every means to influence European decisions affecting the sector, but the figures which have now been published exceed all previous estimates. Banks, investors and speculators have their fat fingers in the pie when it comes to Brussels decision-making. The SP wants to see a Europe in which the interests of the citizens come first, and not those of the banks.’

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Mass of letters and the SP confront European Commissioner on situation of truck drivers

April 8th, 2014 Truck drivers took up their pens en masse to pressure European Commissioner for Transport Siim Kallas to take action against fraudulent employment practices and exploitation in the transport sector. ‘It’s really worked up a storm,’ said SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong. ‘In a few days I’ve received dozens of letters from truck drivers, not only Dutch drivers, but a lot of others who want to take action against exploitation and job losses in the transport sector. Next week I and other MEPs from all of the European Parliament’s major groups are to meet with Commissioner Kallas, and I’ll hand over the truck drivers’ letters. I believe that the Commissioner is living in an ivory tower and has no idea of the real situations in which these drivers fine themselves. If Kallas reads these letters I find it hard to believe that he’ll carry on dawdling over taking measures.’

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Weeklog Dennis de Jong: A European Commissioner for small businesses?

April 6th, 2014 During last Monday’s annual debate on the State of the Union, the VVD (the larger of the two governing coalition parties) proposed that one of the twenty-eight European Commissioners be given responsibility for the EU’s policies on “SMEs” (the Euro-jargon term for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises). An empty pre-election gesture. This week I joined other MEPs in proposing that in the future as much as possible of the legislation upon which the European Parliament has reached agreement should be subject to one more test to assess its consequences for SMEs. That’s no election rhetoric, but a serious attempt to prevent big business having the only say. This crowns five years on the part of the SP in the European Parliament of consistently considering the interests of small businesses.

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SP attends mass demonstration of European trade unions

April 4th, 2014
The SP says no to this EU

The SP was today present at the European trade union demonstration against the European Union’s austerity policies. Some 2,000 of the demonstrators came from the Netherlands, including large numbers of the cleaners who recently won a national strike. The demonstration attracted as many as 50,000 people from across Europe.

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European Parliament president guilty of culture of cover-ups and nepotism

April 3rd, 2014 The European Parliament today voted on the Parliament’s spending in 2012. The Budgetary Control Committee presented strong criticisms of the Parliament, yet EP president Martin Schulz attempted to stop a vote on their report from being taken. SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong, commenting on Schulz’s efforts, said, ‘We in the Budgetary Control Committee have major concerns regarding the fact that EP money was used by Schulz in his personal campaign to win the presidency. We also have criticisms of the manner in which he has reorganised the Parliament’s services, clearly to get his friends jobs. This is the umpteenth time that Schulz has tried this kind of cover-up. I have myself also had extremely bad experiences of the way in which Schulz’s services are frustrating transparency within the EP. In my view Schulz is absolutely unsuitable to be in the leadership of any European institution whatsoever. With Schulz we’re bringing corruption into our own house.’

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High earners profit from exchange of principles

April 1st, 2014 Emile Roemer

SP leader Emile Roemer is pleased by the government’s decision to withdraw proposals to make unlawful presence in the Netherlands a criminal offence, describing the proposed measure as ‘an abuse of human rights’ which ‘has now been thrown out, and that’s good news.’ On the other hand he is less pleased by the way in which this was achieved, calling the deal between the two governing parties – Labour (PvdA) and the right-wing liberals (VVD) – as ‘unsavoury’, on the grounds that part of the agreement gives people on high incomes an additional tax advantage. ‘High income groups will profit from this fresh exchange of principles between PvdA and VVD. They will get a tax advantage, and those on low incomes will soon be getting the bill for this,’ he says. ‘And that’s on top of the fact that at the end of last year those on the very highest incomes have already been granted a tax advantage costing us half a billion.’

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Mexx refuses to discuss Bangladesh Safety Agreement

March 31st, 2014 SP Member of Parliament Sharon Gesthuizen, together with Christian Union MP Joel Voordewind and representatives of the pressure group the Fashion Rebels, paid a visit today to the head office of clothing brand Mexx. Their intention was to ask them to sign the Bangladesh Safety Agreement, a pact to protect workers from fire and other potentially lethal factory hazards. Unfortunately the firm was unwilling to discuss the matter with the MPs and even threatened to call the police, refusing also to agree to a further meeting on the issue.

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The Netherlands must be able to say no more often to the EU

March 31st, 2014 The Netherlands must be able to say ‘no’ to the EU more often than it does, restrain the power of lobbyists and be prepared in case the euro disintegrates.

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Weeklog Dennis de Jong: The Commission wants to know your opinion

March 30th, 2014 The Commission has opened a website on which we can all give our opinion of the treaty – the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) which European Commissioner for Trade Karel de Gucht is currently negotiating with the US. In particular, consultations will focus on the way in which corporate investments will be protected. I’ve taken a look at the site: on each question you get a long screed explaining how good all of the proposals are, and only then can you react. To call this manipulation is to put it mildly. De Gucht thinks that he can keep things cool until after the elections then get back down to it afterwards. The SP is completely opposed to this treaty, consultations or no consultations.

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Verhofstad’s ‘mothers-in-law’

March 28th, 2014 Europe’s no Vatican, but a democracy.

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European banking union: a huge European trap

March 28th, 2014 In the SP’s view the Europhoric vote on the concluding agreement for the banking union is misplaced, because the idea that forms the basis of such a banking union is fundamentally flawed. The SP argues instead for a return to human scale in the banking sector, rather than hanging on to a failing system.

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Nuclear weapons in Europe squander money

March 28th, 2014 Last Tuesday the biggest summit ever held in the Netherlands, the Nuclear Security Summit, concluded with a declaration. Dozens of world leaders committed themselves to making greater efforts to better secure nuclear material, yet their statement contains not a word about NATO’s atomic weapons in Europe. That’s odd when you consider that it recently became known that the security of these American arms does not meet the stated demands and that more money must be found if it is to do so.

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Talks on EU-US trade and investment pact still secret

March 26th, 2014 The European Union and the United States are clinging tenaciously to their intention to conclude an agreement on trade and investment, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). So stated President Barak Obama, European Commission President Jose Barroso and European Council chairman Herman van Rompuy today in Brussels. Commenting on the delaration, SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong said that ‘in it they state that support for the agreement amongst the people must be increased. At the same time concerns amongst the public over this treaty are growing by the week, and so they should be, because it is going to have radical effects on our legislation. You won’t get rid of these fears by keeping the negotiating texts secret. The first demand is therefore that there should be openness regarding the question of what exactly the negotiations are about. I don’t see anything about this in the declaration, however.’

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Kox: Major concerns surround Ukraine

March 25th, 2014 After the bloody February revolution in Kiev and the brutal annexation of Crimea by Russia, the situation in Ukraine remains extremely unstable. The new government has little authority, the country continues to be divided and attempts by Russia, the United States and the European Union to increase their influence there are only making the problems worse. Support for a thoroughgoing democratic, economic and social reform of the almost bankrupt country ought to be the priority. That goes also for continuing to seek a diplomatic solution to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. If that doesn’t happen, the consequences will be unforeseeable and perilous. These were the observations of SP Senator Tiny Kox, who is in Ukraine as a representative of the Council of Europe.

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De Jong supports manifesto for decent asylum policy

March 24th, 2014 On 20th March Amnesty International staged the ´SOS Europe Beach Protest´, an action to demand decent treatment for asylum seekers. SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong attended and signed the manifesto. `For years I have been trying in the European Parliament to set in motion a reform process in relation to European asylum policies,’ he explained. ‘Existing policies lead to degrading situations, especially in countries with long exterior borders, because they have to process the most requests for asylum. That’s why the SP advocates a European asylum centre which should guarantee proper treatment of requests for asylum.’

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Nuclear summit is above all a missed opportunity

March 24th, 2014 The government has succeeded in holding an international conference in The Hague on nuclear safety. On the eve of this gathering a great deal of attention is being paid to security measures and the arrival of trade delegations, when its content should be the subject of criticism. The fact is that most important nuclear-related subjects are not being discussed at this summit.

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Weeklog Dennis de Jong: The House of European History?

March 23rd, 2014 The SP believes that it’s important that people can learn about history. Though it’s true that it never repeats itself in quite the same way, without any knowledge of history it’s difficult to fathom what’s going on in our own times. Despite this, I have systematically voted against the House of European History. Not only because establishing such a facility should not be one of the European Parliament’s core tasks, but above all because it threatens to become one big propaganda machine. A slanted account of history is something we don’t need. It would be a complete waste of money.

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Roemer and De Jong: ‘No to this EU’

March 22nd, 2014 SP leader Emile Roemer and number one candidate for the European Parliament, incumbent MEP Dennis de Jong, this morning kicked off the campaign in Amersfoort – site of the party’s HQ – for the elections to the European Parliament on 22nd May. ‘The SP is the party for people who want to speak out against the European Superstate and against the right wing extremism threatening the Netherlands and Europe. We stand for cooperation between countries in Europe and against undemocratic parties looking to increase the influence of Brussels at the cost of the power of the citizens. The SP says “no” to this EU.’

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SP makes massive gains in local elections

March 20th, 2014 This Wednesday saw local councils elected throughout the Netherlands, and huge gains for the Socialist Party. In 2010 the SP won 226 seats; this time they came close to doubling that, to around 450, according to the latest tallies.

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