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Blog Dennis de Jong

18 December 2016

Time to unite the left in Europe

Last 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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11 December 2016

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

Political 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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4 December 2016

Neoliberal spin versus clear language of the Modern Left

Dutch 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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27 November 2016

Verhofstadt is building his federal Europe on the backs of the British

The gulf could not be any bigger. Ever more citizens of its member states want nothing more to do with the European Union. Meanwhile, the Belgian chair of the Liberal group – known as the ALDE – Guy Verhofstadt, has proposed that United Kingdom citizens who wish to do so should, in the wake of Brexit, be allowed to pay to take out EU citizenship. This is a conscious step on  Verhofstadt’s part towards a United States of Europe, as up to now ‘EU citizenship’ has come along with the nationality of one of its member states.

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20 November 2016

Still a long way to go for social justice in the EU

Each year the Bertelsmann Foundation, a German thinktank linked to the media giant of the same name, publishes its index of social justice. As in previous years, the latest edition shows that this form of justice remains a distant prospect. In most member states things are still worse than they were before the financial crisis. Little attention is being paid to inequality in society, and poverty is on the rise rather than falling. This isn’t an encouraging picture, and represents a slap in the face for all those budget fetishists like our own Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

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13 November 2016

Humanity in short supply in European hotspots

The Dutch government is proud of Europe’s asylum policy. The number of asylum-seekers in the Netherlands has fallen substantially and the uncontrolled march across Europe is at an end. That’s all undoubtedly true, but in my view an asylum policy can only be described as a success if it doesn’t violate human rights and offers refugees effective protection. The situation in the ‘hotspots’ in Italy and Greece is appalling, however. Everyone seems to be averting their eyes. That’s unacceptable.

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6 November 2016

Travel ban for Euro-MPs?

The news agency Politico this week launched a frontal attack on the wastefulness of Euro-MPs who consider that they must travel throughout the world in luxury in order to develop and maintain contacts. This year I’m Rapporteur for the European Parliament’s financial accountability, reason enough to dive deeper into this matter. And sure enough there’s a lot of weeding to be done in this particular garden. Not every journey to a country beyond the European Union is useless, but accountability could be improved. We have no need for champagne diplomacy.

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30 October 2016

In the US as in the EU, the multinationals are the real election winners

All the fuss surrounding the American elections notwithstanding, Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump offers no real choice. Either will in the end be there to defend the interests of the multinationals. Had Bernie Sanders been a candidate, there would have been something to choose from. You see the same in the European Parliament: even if the centre-left Socialists and Democrats and the centre-right European People’s Party are often at each other’s throats, the two biggest political groups always in the end vote for laws that benefit only the multinationals.

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23 October 2016

Five advisors from the European Commission given power over national budgets

This week the European Commission announced that they had selected ‘in a fully transparent manner’ five members of the new advisory council on national budgetary policy, the so-called ‘European Fiscal Board’. The European Parliament was not involved in the selection. And so once again we see a new organ, far away from the European public, which will soon be able to issue important advice on the running of national budgets. The Commission will hide behind the advice notes when it comes to making its ‘recommendations’ to the member states.

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16 October 2016

Why does Timmermans not report corruption at the EU?

Last Friday the European Parliament Transparency Intergroup, a cross-party network of MEPs, sent an angry letter to Commissioner Frans Timmermans. This year the Commission once again published a report on the member states’ anti-corruption policies, but it will include no chapter on the fight against corruption within the European Union’s own institutions. After the real mess surrounding the European Commissioners’ moonlighting, you’d expect the Commission to make this a spearhead of its approach. Timmermans refuses to do so, however, without coming up with any clear arguments against.

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