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8 October 2017

Conmen on the internet – ‘Bloodless Crime’

We don’t think about it enough, but when we go online with our mobile or our PC, any one of us could be the victim of conmen on the Internet, of cyber-crime. This applies to private individuals, state bodies and companies. Tomorrow I’m taking part in a conference of the Foundation to Tackle Financial-Economic Crime in the Netherlands (known by its Dutch acronym, Safecin). The conference title is ‘Bloodless Crime’, and its purpose is to discuss the national and EU measures needed to protect Internet users, including in particular small businesses.

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1 October 2017

The EU urgently needs mediators to uphold the rule of law

The EU advocates democracy, but has so far completely failed to meet recent challenges in Hungary, Poland and now of course Spain. Up to now the EU has always followed a formal course, taking action via delegations or in the Spanish case through silence, because silence too is a political statement. Why doesn’t the EU work via mediators, people who are authoritative when it comes to the law who can meet with the parties involved?

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24 September 2017

Is the EU becoming ‘Social Europe’?

Foto: European Parliament

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10 September 2017

Ignore Juncker, but keep a close eye on Macron and Merkel

This week the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, will give his State of the Union address in the European Parliament in Brussels. Everyone’s holding their breath, because Juncker is going to present a new, sixth scenario for the future of the EU, the nature of which has until now been kept under wraps. What many people are forgetting is that Juncker has no power in this, that it’s the heads of the member state governments who will decide. So it’s much more important to keep your eye on Macron and Merkel than it is to heed what Juncker has to say.

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3 September 2017

The European Commission shakes its fist

Last week Commissioner Frans Timmermans didn’t pull his punches: to save the rule of law in the country, the European Commission would be coming down hard on Poland. At the same time the British were informed by the Commission’s Brexit negotiator that they had presented no real proposals and that the talks would be held up. And then, to cap it all, Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker announced that he had a sixth scenario up his sleeve designed to make the EU into a true political union, or, as you might put it, a superstate.

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27 August 2017

Consumer rights: the struggle continues

For years the European Commission has attempted to harmonise consumer protection laws across the EU, so that if you buy something in another member state, you know precisely what your rights are. Consumer organisations have, however, been doubtful about this. No wonder when you see that the current proposals threaten, for example, to reduce the duration of guarantees. The solution is simple: a minimum level of protection could be laid down at EU level, while individual member states retain the right to give additional protection should they see fit.

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20 August 2017

The European Parliament isn’t going to solve the problem of terrorism

Just before the summer recess the European Parliament took the decision to set up a special committee on the fight against terrorism in the European Union. Its mandate is broad, but my prediction is that the result of its deliberations will be to propose that the EU must be given more powers in this area, and perhaps once again that a new or strengthened EU institution must be added to the mix.

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13 August 2017

Can football ever become a game again instead of a marketplace?

Unprecedented millions have been paid out on transfers of footballers during the last few weeks. One Dutch daily, AD, discovered that the twenty English Premier League clubs have so far spent more than a billion euros on new players. The commercialisation of the game (or at least the man’s game) has thus got completely out of hand. Unfortunately it’s seen principally as a market in the European Parliament, too, while the Dutch women’s team have demonstrated that you can have exciting matches without such exorbitant sums.

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6 August 2017

Brussels and The Hague must stop ignoring Calais situation

In June the first death occurred, when a Polish truckdriver crashed into a row of lorries which had to stop suddenly because some migrants had blocked the road with a tree trunk. Truck drivers are still going to Great Britain, but for how long? Once again a time is fast approaching when it will be too late to act, and yet once again the European Union decision-makers in Brussels, and the Dutch government in The Hague, remain worryingly quiet, while the government in Paris blunders on.

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