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Dijsselbloem the Terrible

12 Feb 2017In the Labour Party campaign for the forthcoming Dutch general election, Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem is showing his social face. Yet in reality he has spent the last few years, as chair of the eurogroup, forcing the Greeks down into absolute poverty. Even the International Monetary Fund is internally divided: the people cannot endure such poverty, so great a collapse of public services, and so high a rate of unemployment.

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Let’s put a stop to the Brussels-Strasbourg merry-go-round, Minister Koenders

5 Feb 2017Foreign Minister Bert Koenders appears frequently in the media criticising the European Parliament. That’s fine with me, because there is of course a great deal to criticise about all the waste and the conflicts of interest which surround the EP. But he went too far when he attacked the Parliament over the fact that once a month we move lock, stock and barrel to Strasbourg. The fact is that by far the majority of MEPs find this monthly trip irritating in the extreme. There is, however, nothing we can do to change it, as that is in the hands of the member state governments.

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Points of agreement between Timmermans and Trump

29 Jan 2017This weekend has a great deal of justified criticism aimed at the policies of brand new US President Donald Trump, in particular his closure of the country’s borders to travellers from a number of Islamic countries. European Commission Vice President (and former Dutch Foreign Minister) Frans Timmermans is amongst those who have already protested. Yet this same Timmermans has co-authored the plan, that appeared this week, aimed at putting a stop to immigration from North Africa. Following the Turkey deal, Timmermans now wants to see a Libya deal.

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Dutch centre-right parties sign pact for European superstate

22 Jan 2017In the runup to the coming elections for the national parliament, the two centre-right parties, the governing VVD and the opposition CDA, are loudly declaring that they are against a European superstate. That’s what makes it remarkable that so little attention has been paid to the pact concluded by their political groups in the European Parliament, respectively the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), and the European People’s Party (EPP).

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First steps towards a European Whistleblowers’ Centre

15 Jan 2017Say you find out that the Italian mafia benefits from European subsidies. That’s not a hypothetical example either, because loads of such cases of fraud are known. You need plenty of courage to report a case of this kind to the EU institutions. The protection of whistleblowers is still by no means guaranteed.

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The week of dishonest men

8 Jan 2017In a single week in Brussels three dishonest men have been in the news and the only question now is whether they will leave the stage or grow even more powerful. The president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, turns out to be even more intensely involved in tax dodging by multinationals than recently seemed to be the case. Austrian Commissioner Günther Oettinger, who was caught not long ago making sexist remarks and has been involved in a case of conflict of interest, is now apparently being envisaged as the new Commission Vice-President.

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Building on the ruins

1 Jan 2017Eurocritical politicians are often put down as gloomy types who are always negative. The opposite is true. If the SP has criticisms to level at the greed merchants in Brussels, it’s because we believe, as do most people in the Netherlands and in Europe, that an end must be put to this neoliberal, interfering, wasteful “Brussels”. We do, however, want to build a Europe in which we cooperate to achieve goals for which there is support, things which are useful.

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Time to unite the left in Europe

18 Dec 2016Last week it was officially announced that I had been elected vice president of the SP’s political group in the European Parliament, the United Left, known by its French acronym as the GUE. Together with the president and three other vice presidents, we will be working to increase the visibility of our social alternatives for Europe. We are a collective leadership, in which I will be representing in particular the SP and our sister parties. These are in the main members of the sub-group within the United Left, the Nordic Green Left.

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The danger of a ‘Grand Coalition’ in the European Parliament

11 Dec 2016Political groups are free to work with each other, but in the European Parliament the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) and the centre-left Party of Socialists and Democrats (PSD), together with the centre-right Alliance of liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) have formed a ‘Grand Coalition’ which is starting to present a downright danger. It’s stampeding in the direction of a federal Europe, and the general public who want just the opposite – ‘less Brussels’ – are pushed aside as people who just don’t get it.

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Neoliberal spin versus clear language of the Modern Left

4 Dec 2016Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte put in an appearance this week at the ALDE (centre-right liberals) European Parliament group conference held on this occasion in Warsaw. There, he warned that Europe could fall apart if the politicians didn’t listen to what the public were clearly saying: not still more Brussels, please. It’s just a pity that the government he heads wants precisely the opposite: more economic diktats from Brussels, a European Public Prosecutor, a European security force and even intensive European defence cooperation. But things didn’t work out so well for Rutte.

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