22 April 2018
For years now we've had to contend with Brussels' attacks on our pension system. The European Commission understands well enough that there is a general payment known as the AOW, but finds it nonsensical that there is also a compulsory supplementary occupational pension, in which employers also have to pay. In their view people should first and foremost take care of their own pensions as individuals. This wouldn't only be handy for the employers, but also mush better for insurance companies who would make handsome profits from it.
8 April 2018
The European Commission, and in particular the Dutch Commissioner responsible for such matters, Frans Timmermans, are showing a great deal of concern over the decline of the rule of law in Hungary and Poland, including the lack of an independent judiciary, the extent of corruption and nepotism, and encroachment on journalists’ freedom. All important matters, but the EU’s own institutions, as well as the member states themselves, can also be found lacking in these areas. Below I give a number of examples.
25 March 2018
This Tuesday, 27th March, my entire day at the European Parliament will be taken up by discussions of scandals. In the morning, it's the Hungarian government's fraud; in the afternoon, the Commission's policy on integrity, specifically the appointment of Martin Selmayr as Commission Secretary-General. Of course there is a difference between the corrupt behaviour of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, suspected of corruption and of the evasion of EU public procurement rules, and that of Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker.
18 March 2018
On 21st March we will concentrating first and foremost on our local elections, because while we may be the European Parliament group, we'll all be off to vote for our SP candidates and to celebrate their success in our own branches. Before I can do that, however, there's a vote in the European Parliament and the situation remains tense. In the Internal Market Committee the likely vote on the Services E-card, with which the Commission proposes to promote the free movement of services across borders, is evenly balanced.
11 March 2018
On March 6th I took part in a debate in Brussels with fellow Dutch MEPs on the approaching local elections. That it would be the EU which took centre stage in this debate, rather than local authorities was something I had anticipated. But that when they voted to approve far-reaching proposals, the MEPs from other parties had no idea what they were voting for, borders on the unbelievable.
4 March 2018
Inside the Brussels bubble, British Prime minister Theresa May is generally ridiculed. That's why I seldom put much faith in Brussels' analyses. That goes also for the speech which May gave on 2nd March on the new 'economic partnership' that she wants to forge with the EU. This wasn't a ridiculous speech at all, if you read through it, but a demonstration of how market fundamentalists like the Tories always in the end favour the market over the interests of working people. However much she claims the opposite, she always backs the 10%, while the 90% can go hang.
18 February 2018
Tomorrow afternoon in the European Parliament we will be discussing the functioning of the European Agencies, which number around forty. It would be a fine thing were the heads of government to include such a discussion in their negotiations on the multi-annual budget which will determine how much the European Union can spend from 2021. The biggest savings could be made by putting an end to the pumping of money back and forth between the member states and Brussels. Savings could also be achieved by merging or closing down a number of agencies.
4 February 2018
We vote this week on a report which proposes that the 73 seats which will be vacated as a result of Brexit won't simply be given up.. Instead, 27 of them will be used to bring about a fairer division between the member states, while the rest will constitute a transnational European list. What this would mean for us in the Netherlands is that we would each have two votes, one for the Dutch national list and one for the European list. The Parliament in The Hague has already stated the official view that it would like to see the EP reduced to 678 seats.
28 January 2018
One of the themes of the negotiations on the new multi-annual budget, due to start this year, will be to determine the conditions under which the European Commission will decide which companies EU subsidies will be given to. When it comes to subsidies paid to the member states, qualification depends on 'good economic behaviour'. How such behaviour is defined is determined, moreover, entirely by the Commission via the recommendations to member states in the framework of economic governance. For the most part that comes down to austerity policies and demolition of public services.