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'For each other' in Europe, too

3 December 2017

'For each other' in Europe, too

What an excellent gathering it was that the SP organised this afternoon in Breda under the aegis of our new initiative, the theatre 'Voor Elkaar' – 'For Each Other'. A hall full of people convinced that a real society is possible, one based on fellow-feeling and solidarity. That's something which you can organise in your own neighbourhood or your own country, but what about at European level? It's tough, but it can be done, and the SP's European Parliament group is playing a role in this, by laying bare the relations of power, by continually combating those whose central focus is on the market and not on people, and by actively bringing forward and supporting proposals in the European Parliament which point towards a better society.

All you have to do is take a stroll around the European Parliament. On Friday about a hundred SP members came on a visit, and though we gave them a warm welcome, they must have found the atmosphere of the place chilly and inhuman. What do you expect when there are 751 Euro-MPs, thousands of staffers, and tens of thousands of lobbyists. Yet our story is not one of powerlessness: in the European Parliament, we pay attention to what is going on and we make our mark. We watch what the lobbyists are up to. We listen to the European Commissioners' corporate jargon. And we see the attempts to create an all-powerful market via European Union laws. We don't keep all this information to ourselves, but spread it wherever possible, inside and outside the party, through meetings across the country, and using both traditional and social media.

But we have been able to do more than that, recording a number of successes, especially in relation to the transparency of EU decision-making. Lobbyists who don't enter their name and business in the lobby register have their rights removed and no longer have a platform in the EP or at the European Commission. Shortly I'll be speaking again with the Dutch Commissioner, Frans Timmermans, about the Commission's Expert Groups. We have already gained more of an insight into the composition of these bodies, appointed by the Commission to give their expert opinion and advice, and NGOs and other social organisations now get more of a look-in, but things could still be greatly improved. And I could go on. The time of the secret power-grab by big corporations is behind us. They're still powerful, but now their power is more visible, and that's an absolute precondition for eventually breaking that power. No EU of big capital, but an EU For Each Other.

Even in relation to the market it's possible to enjoy a success from time to time. Shortly in the Internal Market Committee we will vote on the European Services Card. I've already written about this appalling proposal, as a result of which self-employed people would be allowed to work anywhere in the EU on the basis of qualifications which may not come up to our standards, and inspections would no longer have much of a chance to demonstrate that individuals don't actually possess the necessary professional or trade qualifications. As things now look, however, there's a good chance that the proposal will be rejected by the EP. European Commission official are sweating buckets over this, not merely for itself but because it's an example of how we can work on reining in market-think. Of course, just as there is in the Netherlands' parliament there is in the EP a right-wing majority, but with the right networks and creative proposals you can really make a difference, in Europe too, and certainly For Each Other.

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