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Fractie

4 November 2018

European Parliament can't wait to spend taxpayers' money

The money which the European Union has at its disposal is primarily dependent on a multi-annual budget drawn up for a period of seven years. This budget is decided by the member states, with the European Parliament enjoying no more than a 'veto or approve' vote. With the help of the European Commission, however, there's more to it than that for the EP. In all sorts of policy areas we are receiving in rapid tempo proposals for programmes. This involves a normal legislative procedure, one which gives the Parliament a role, and once a programme has been adopted it will be written in stone for several years, including its costs. This is fine for the EP, which thus gets a greater say. I don't understand, however, why the heads of government, such as our own Prime minister Mark Rutte, go along with it,. I would have thought they would be concerned to save taxpayers' money, but by agreeing to so many programmes they risk the multi-annual budget turning out to be very expensive indeed.

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7 October 2018

Worldwide approach needed for the protection of refugees

This week SP Member of Parliament Jasper van Dijk produced five questions and answers which the SP wants to see as the basis for the protection of refugees. These proposals proceed seamlessly from my own 2015 plan as well as from the Global Compact for Refugees which the UN High Commission for Refugees presented this month to the General Assembly. Support from the international community must be drastically increased and people should not be left to live for long periods in camps. The most vulnerable people who cannot stay in their region must be resettled. And an end must be put as rapidly as possible to the horrors which people have to confront on their way to a safe haven.

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2 September 2018

Human rights are about more than individual rights

Next Tuesday, together with Christian Union MEP Peter van Dalen, I'll be presenting the annual report we put together on behalf of the European Parliament Intergroup on Freedom of Religion or Belief and Religious Tolerance. In this report the emphasis will be on the collective aspects of this freedom. Too often human rights are seen as individual rights in the style of 'I have to do this, so it must be allowed.' But all of your human rights are protected, your privacy as well as your rights as part of a community. Take for example your freedom to organise in a trade union, or the many social rights which a properly functioning welfare system demands. You don't hear much about this from politicians on the right, but these same politicians are demolishing communities in rapid tempo. It is precisely that – working together for a better world - that for me is the core of human rights.

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26 August 2018

One movement isn't the same as the others

Movements are arising in the European Union. Macron has his ‘En Marche’, which he wants to see also established at the European level. There's a movement of 'progressive youth', Volt, aimed at a European superstate. And then there's Jean-Luc  Mélenchon's 'La France Insoumise’ (LFI), which he also wants to broaden into a European movement, 'Now, the People’. Three movements, each completely different from the other, but if it's justice for all that moves you, it's only the latter, Mélenchon's, which is of any real interest.

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5 August 2018

Barnier should be more flexible over internal market in negotiations with UK

The European Union's Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, found it necessary in a recently submitted article to remind the British once more that the internal market is one and indivisible. If the UK doesn't accept free movement of persons and of services, then there will be no free movement of goods. There is a reason for this rigidity. Whatever we may hear about a social Europe, the core of the existing form of European integration remains the insistence that there is one market and that this can't be avoided by national action. The Brexit referendum revolved around the questions of free movement of persons and services, rather than trade in goods. Rather than reconsidering matters in the light of these concerns, Barnier is slamming the door in Britain's face. This is a foolish response to the UK, but also to other member states where people have similar concerns.

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22 July 2018

Small businesses want to restrain the market power of corporate capital

Brussels is the paradise of market fundamentalism, which is why it's all the more striking that in recent weeks we have spent so much time in the European Parliament Internal Market Committee on intervening in the market to prevent the exploitation of small firms. There are thousands of examples of unfair practices by big corporations in their treatment of smaller companies. This gives me another reason to want to tackle dishonest trading methods, but as long as we fail to do something about market domination and recognise that corporations can be too big, we'll be mopping the floor without stopping the flood at its source.

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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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