17 August 2018

Coach drivers sound alarm: hit the brakes!

Foto: Maurits Gemmink

This summer countless holidaymakers will go by coach to their chosen resorts. But the coach drivers who take them have less attractive prospects lying in wait. Just as with freight traffic, the European Union wants to open the gates to drivers from eastern European countries while at the same time extending permitted working hours. But there remains some hope.

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10 August 2018

Ten years on from the August War, South Ossetia remains a frozen conflict

Foto: SP

Ten years ago this week Russian troops entered South Ossetia in response to Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili's decision to send his army to attack the region which, though officially still Georgian territory de jure, had seceded de facto seventeen years earlier, in 1991. The attack had been launched the day before the Russian response, which occurred on 8th August.

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9 August 2018

Hiroshima, Nagasaki – never again!

Just over 73 years ago, on 6th August 1945 – so within the memory of the very oldest people still alive - the Japanese city of Hiroshima was virtually wiped from the face of the Earth by a single nuclear bomb. In the seven decades which have passed since that historic event, the world is replete with bombs which make those dropped on Hiroshima and, three days later, on Nagasaki, look like fire-crackers. We should remember, however, that even these relatively small bombs were terrifyingly destructive weapons. Many people died instantly, but those casualty figures were doubled within a few months, so that the number of deaths from the bombings' acute effects may have been well over 200,000, with even the lowest estimates reaching two-thirds of that figure. Lingering radiation sickness would kill many more as the years went by. SP Senator Tiny Kox, who is also a member of the Dutch delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, wants to ensure that these weapons of mass destruction will never be used again. “I want to see the government sign up to the international campaign to ban nuclear arms,” he says.

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2 August 2018

Access to EU Council Documents: European Ombudsman rules in favour of SP

On Wednesday the European Ombudsman ruled in favour of SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong's request for access to the EU Council's legal advice in relation to a transparency register. Explaining his request, De Jong said: “As long as three years ago I lodged a request with the Council for access to the full advice given by the Legal Services on the question of possible participation by the Council in the transparency register. The Council has repeatedly refused to grant this, but not only did the Ombudsman rule in my favour on every point, but has also ensured that the Council has given me access to the advice, uncensored. The ruling confirms that documents in the framework of an inter-institutional agreement between Council, Commission and Parliament are comparable to legislative documents. Earlier this year the European Court of Justice ruled that important documents must be publicly available, which will at last give member states' citizens more of an insight into how decisions are taken in Brussels and means that governments can no longer hide behind a veil of secrecy.”

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1 August 2018

SP launches alternative action plan to put a stop to fires in intensive pigsties and cattle stalls

Every year hundreds of thousands of animals die in the Netherlands in the most horrible manner in fires in barns, sheds and pigsties on intensive farms. Yesterday, 2,500 pigs were burnt to death in a fire near Didam, Gelderland, in the country's east. Last year set a sad record when 20,000 pigs were killed in a fire in another Gelderland village, Erichem. The farmer had been known for several years as one who ignored the regulations. The government has now produced an action plan to stop such fires, but according to the SP it leaves far too many options, with the authorities waiting for the sector itself to solve the problems, and has shied away from taking serious measures, such as stronger norms for existing stalls and sties, while the intensive farming industry continues to cram in enormous numbers of animals, often with the most basic fire safety measures.

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26 July 2018

Trump bluffs, Juncker capitulates

Foto: SP

The SP is opposed to the deal which European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has signed with Donald Trump. Explaining the party's hostility to the deal, SP Euro-MP Anne-Marie Mineur said: “It's a slap in the face for the widespread resistance to the TTIP, the free trade treaty between the EU and the US, negotiations over which were halted in 2016. Instead of making agreements on fair and sustainable trade, Juncker has committed the EU to importing more liquid gas and more soya, as well as running down all barriers to trade and product standards, These are of course designed to protect the consumer and the environment. Juncker and Trump also want to intensify trade in services, chemicals and pharmaceuticals.

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26 July 2018

Time to take action against Israel's apartheid 'nation state' law

What was in reality already the case has now been formally incorporated into Israeli law. In the country once counted a democratic good example in an authoritarian region, apartheid has now been confirmed as a legal principle. The law from now on will state that only Jewish inhabitants of Israel have the right of self-determination. The 1.8 million Arabs who live there are now also officially second class citizens, their language no longer recognised as one of the official languages and their fate made dependent on the wishes of the Jewish population.

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11 July 2018

Climate Accord must not let major polluters off the hook

From the newly published Netherlands Climate Accord it's clear that just what the SP feared has indeed come to pass. It isn't the major polluters, but households, which are going to pay the price of tackling the climate problem. “This isn't climate justice,” says SP Member of Parliament Sandra Beckerman. “Once again the biggest polluters aren't the target. Industry is knowingly damaging the climate, but the multinationals only want renewables if they come attached to a big sackful of money. Massive polluters such as Shell have raked in billions in profits on gas and oil, but refuse to make a contribution to repairing the climate.”

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10 July 2018

Foul smell of corruption in Brussels

Foto: Tom Parnell

A new report from Transparency International has revealed that a third of Members of the European Parliament are doing paid jobs in addition to their parliamentary duties. Commenting on the findings, SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong said, “MEPs earn so much that with your salary and expenses payments you can be a millionaire after just two five-year terms. That's already a ridiculous situation, but for many it's apparently insufficient. Their greed leads to them taking all sorts of highly paid jobs on the side. If you consider that working as a MEP demands a full-time commitment, it's clear that money is more important to them than representing their voters. Also, this is yet another thing which carries a great risk of bringing about conflicts of interest. That's why for years I've been advocating a total ban on paid work outside the Parliament for all MEPs.”

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