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Blog

25 Jun 2017

European Commission still sees market as more important than people

This week I took part in trade union protests against new proposals from the European Commission which will only make social dumping easier. The issue is the introduction of the ‘e-card’. Enforcement of regulations on working conditions will be made more difficult, as inspectorates will be obliged to accept the e-card issued in the worker’s country of domicile. The e-card gives information on the individual’s skills and his or her social security status. Even if it’s clear to the inspectorate that there are flaws in this information, they can do nothing. This is absurd.

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11 Jun 2017

Of old men and mass meetings

We saw it in the US with Bernie Sanders, with Jean-Luc Mélenchon in France, and this week in Great Britain with Jeremy Corbyn: old men who have managed with their socialist message to attract thousands of young people. Change is in the air and the end of neoliberalism appears to be in sight. In Brussels such things are not dwelt upon: people would rather look to a restored Franco-German axis. This will turn out to have been a fatal error: if the EU continues to ignore the call for change, it’s doomed.

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4 Jun 2017

EU still has no solution to the problem of asylum policy

Two weeks ago the European Commission presented its twelfth progress report on the relocation from Italy and Greece of refugees. The Commission is doing its best to put a brave face on things and say that everything is going just fine. But go through it and you can see that without real European asylum centres nothing will ever be achieved. It’s still nothing more than a sticking plaster on a serious wound.

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21 May 2017

How committed to social rights is Juncker?

Last week the European Parliament political group to which the SP is affiliated, the United European Left (GUE-NGL), had a visit from European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker. The discussion, which lasted a good hour, focused among other things on social rights. It was striking that Juncker is still trying to distance himself from budgetary fetishism. People, he said, have suffered enough. Now it’s time for investment.

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7 May 2017

Exciting week for the franchise world

On 11th May the European Parliament Internal Market Committee will vote on my report on abuses in the world of the franchised retail outlet and how to tackle them. It seems that only in the Netherlands does the organisation of independent retailers, which includes many franchisees, have a voice. MEPs from other member states vigorously deny that anything’s wrong in the sector. This is very often the case when it comes to disputes between small and big firms. They remain unnoticed for many years, with small operators staying silent because of their dependence on those granting franchises.

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1 May 2017

On Labour Day, let’s demand a reset: Workers’ Rights 2.0

Today, May 1st, it is once again Labour Day, when we celebrate workers’ rights, or if you prefer, the rights of working people. Yet things aren’t going so well for these rights. Despite all the fine words, the European Union has spent the last few decades actively participating in the erosion of these rights, while there are now, furthermore, numerous new challenges. One subject of current debate in the European Parliament is the digital market.

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23 Apr 2017

The long arm of Brussels

The most left candidate in the French presidential election, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, just failed to make the second round, which will now be contested by Marine Le Pen and Emanuel Macron. The election being today, this has only just emerged, but what has been clear over the last few days is how the established European order has turned en masse against candidates for office who are seeking to shake up the European Union.

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9 Apr 2017

Modern Left shows how European cooperation can still inspire

This week I will be accompanying SP Senate leader Tiny Kox and national secretary Hans van Heijningen to a meeting of the ‘Modern Left’ – an informal group of like-minded parties - in Cyprus. Amongst other things we’ll be discussing the left’s answer to social discontent in – and about – the European Union. There’ll be no complicated negotiations around resolutions or final declarations. Our only aim is to inspire each other and together take a stand against the neoliberalism which has the EU and most of its member states firmly in its grip.

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2 Apr 2017

Commissioner Bulc’s crocodile tears

Following her appointment in 2014, Slovenian Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc gave the impression that she would be dealing with the issue of exploitation of lorry drivers. The European transport unions have learnt instead that she is a harsh neoliberal who has no intention of addressing exploitation, but on the contrary, wants to see even fiercer competition between drivers. They are planning to react with action: in two months Bulc’s plans will no longer be provisional; definite proposals will be issued.

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