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Blog

8 July 2018

Heavy workload, but here's how the European Parliament could take things a little easier

With two weeks remaining before the European Parliament's summer recess, most of my fellow MEPs are becoming more than fed up with the ever-growing pressure of work. On 27th June mainstream media reported that according to the Austrian EU presidency, which began on 1st July, 200 legislative proposals had been presented. Yet the European Commission and the European Parliament have themselves to blame, at least in part, for this. Below, a few ideas for slowing down a little.

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1 July 2018

Killer robots made possible by the EU

Attention has been so focussed on the debate around immigration that other important issues have been hardly noticed. The heads of EU member state governments, for instance, last week voted to establish a European Defence Fund. I am not in the least surprised that these leaders took no notice of the criticisms of the militarisation of the European research programme from ourselves and others, but that they should ignore the call from more than 800 scientists to at least spend no money on the development of killer robots was less predictable.  The combination of artificial intelligence and weapons is - literally and figuratively – deadly. The EU, however, finds this of sufficient interest to develop it further. Nothing, absolutely nothing, remains of the original ideal of peace. 

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24 June 2018

Dutch citizens should not be extradited to countries like Poland without real guarantees

Foto: Robert de Klerk / SP

SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong is urging authorities in the Netherlands to be extremely circumspect when it comes to the extradition of Dutch citizens to Poland, Hungary and other EU member states where the rule of law is under pressure.  Explaining his concerns, De Jong said that “a report published today by the NGO Fair Trials International, Beyond Surrender Putting human rights at the heart of the European Arrest Warrant,
reveals that following extradition to Poland, amongst other countries, many people accused of crimes are kept in inhuman conditions. In such a case it's important to be able to trust an independent judge who will rule as to whether it's really necessary to remand a suspect in custody and if so, ensure that he or she will be well-treated and receive adequate care. Fair Trials give the example of a heavily pregnant woman extradited from the Netherlands to Poland, where she gave birth in custody where there was inadequate care for her baby, which was ill. Under normal circumstances it's important in such cases to be circumspect with regard to extradition, but if the judge isn't independent I'd rather not see vulnerable people extradited to Poland at all. We shouldn't be taking those risks.”

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24 June 2018

Should the Greeks be happy now?

This summer the Greek aid programme will come to an end, following the agreement in the Eurogroup on an easing of the country's debt obligations.  But should the Greeks be feeling relieved? In exchange for the aid the country will continue to exist under effective receivership. Moreover, the real winner remains Germany. Not only were the German banks which at the high point of the crisis continued to carry Greek advances on their balances rescued, it turns out now that the German central bank earned €2.9 billion on the bonds and loans which it bought.

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17 June 2018

Shut up about a 'social Europe'

It was one of the Juncker Commission;s promises: the European Union would have a social pillar and as a result, everything would be different. If you follow the news, you'll know that this isn't what happened. The EU finds it tremendous that French President Emmanuel Macron is pushing the liberalisation of his country's railways, with the workers as its first victims. Their terms of employment are to be 'reformed', for which read demolished. At almost the same moment, the national public broadcaster NOS reports that call centres in, amongst other places, Lisbon, are holding down costs by exploiting young Dutch people. A truly social EU would take some sort of action against this, but in Brussels all is quiet.

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14 June 2018

The Toilet Duck and the European Commission

The president of the European Parliament, the useless Italian Berlusconi fan Antonio Tajani, was beside himself with joy. The latest figures from the European opinion pollster Eurobarometer showed that the European Union had never been so popular. For the Dutch people, this type of self-recommendation brings to mind the Toilet Duck, as I shall explain.

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10 June 2018

How can we tackle the computer giants ourselves?

Foto: FHKE
A few months back I received, not for the first time, an email from someone who complained about the fact that, having bought an Apple product such as an I-pad, you are then obliged to buy all of your apps from the App Store. The same goes for hardware, because Apple has its own data sticks and makes no use of standard models such as USB. The European Commission stresses its alleged belief in open competition, but in reality protects Apple in this case from the market. Competition Commissioner Margrethe Verstager refused, however, to give a direct commitment in answer to my written questions on this matter, because she had yet to receive a formal complaint. Perhaps we could help her out by lodging one.
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3 June 2018

The procession of the multinationals' servants

We get them all in Strasbourg, the leaders of the member states' governments, determined to give us their vision of Europe's future. French president Emmanuel Macron was there in April, Luxembourg's prime minister  Xavier Bettel last week, and in a week-and-a-half it will be Dutch premier Mark  Rutte's turn. Macron's and Bettel's speeches were full of fine words about European values, but the latter inadvertently showed his true face when he insisted that taxes for multinationals should be, as far as he's concerned, kept down. Just as Macron abolished the tax on big capital (of a value exceeding €1.3 billion), on the grounds that he wants to encourage young people to themselves become billionaires (!), and just as Rutte is looking to get rid of the tax on dividends, Bettel did not enjoy my challenging his similar proposals and views during the debate which followed his speech. But they're all the same - Macron, Bettel and Rutte – the future of Europe doesn't interest them in the least. Their procession through Strasbourg is nothing but a parade of multinationals' servants.
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27 May 2018

Truck and bus drivers advance on Strasbourg

It's going to happen at last: on Tuesday, 29th May, hundreds of lorry drivers and bus drivers will demonstrate outside the European Parliament in Strasbourg. The action is timely, because the European Commission's proposals in its 'mobility package' are bad news for these drivers' rights, while the Euro-MPs who must approve them have not found the courage to stand firm in opposition. Without protest there is a strong probability that the proposals will be adopted.

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20 May 2018

It's the Euro, Stupido

First and foremost, I'm no fan of the Italian Lega, one of the coalition partners in the budding government of that country and a party which is certainly on the right. The other coalition partner, the Five Star Movement, is rather unpredictable, but I do often find that I can cooperate well enough with them in the European Parliament. One thing I can understand about this new Italian coalition is that both parties want to cast off the European yoke, especially when it come to 'European economic governance'. And that's why I'm fed up of reading stuff in the mainstream media that expresses the hope that this anti-EU government will fall as quickly as possible. I'd say the media would be better off looking at what's wrong with the euro than going along with the European establishment.

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