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Blog Dennis de Jong

17 March 2019

Young climate activists offer hope that another world is possible

On 12th March a delegation of young climate activists – they call themselves 'the truants' – came to the meeting of our group, the GUE-NGL or United Left, in Strasbourg. It was impressive, and not only because because the youth movement is growing ever bigger and ever more international, but above all also because some of these young people had worked out that a transformation of the system would be needed if a fist is to be made of the fight against the warming of the earth's climate. “Of course we's rather not travel by plane, but as long as the train is many times dearer, what do you want us to do? Our whole economic system is unfit for purpose.”

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10 March 2019

Do citizens in Europe now have a say or not?

Our mailboxes are filling up with emails. This is the result of an action this Tuesday in Strasbourg encouraging a vote against the reform of the European Citizens' Initiative (ECI). The ECI gives citizens the right and means to request legislative proposals. But the right to set up one's own website to collect signatures to back a request is now under pressure, as the European Commission wants to control the entire process. At first sight, then, the concerns over this seemed justified. When I studied the text more closely, however, it turned out that this wasn't the case. It's striking that such a misunderstanding can occur in relation to the ECI, of all things, and it shows once again how great is the gap between the European Parliament and the public.

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3 March 2019

No place for discrimination at the SP

This week I'm going to be spending two days in Geneva at the invitation of the EU Service for External Action, discussing the protection of freedom of religion and belief. Some will ask themselves what a representative of the SP is doing there. Which is why I have decided to use this weeklog to clear up a couple of misunderstandings. It's true that the SP places no importance on 'identity', and that we seek to combat forces that try to set people against each other on the basis of identity and in that way lead them away from the real struggle, which is our fight against neoliberalism and the increasing exploitation of labour and the enrichment of capital. That doesn't mean, however, that we don't find the fight against discrimination important. We want everyone on board, whatever the colour of their skin and whatever their beliefs, because we need everyone in our core struggle.

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27 February 2019

Transparency alone hasn't ended influence of big capital

In recent years we've made lot of progress in making the influence of corporate lobbying on European decision-making more transparent. European Commissioners publish lists of their meetings, lobbyists are obliged to register and alongside their name and other details give an account of their activities, while MEPs having a specific function, such as committee chairs and rapporteurs, must note all meetings with lobbyists. Lobbyists who fail to register are no longer welcome. Yet despite all of this transparency, the influence of big capital has not been eliminated. This corporate capture, as it has been dubbed, has been mapped by the lobbying watchdog Corporate Europe Observatory, and their reports demonstrate that the EU is still being led by the nose by big capital.

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10 February 2019

Rutte misses another chance to end the farce of EP's monthly Strasbourg trips

Last Thursday the Dutch Parliament held a debate, in the presence of a number of MEPs, on the State of the Union. During the debate I issued a strongly-worded call for Prime Minister Rutte to work with President Macron to find at last a solution to the monthly displacement of the European Parliament from Brussels to Strasbourg, which costs the European taxpayer fully €200 million per year. There have recently been fresh proposals, notably from the German liberal party the FDP, to establish a new training institute for European diplomats, a creative idea that I have been pleased to embrace, putting forward a motion to that effect. Rutte's reaction was non-existent. As usual, he did not agree with the idea, making this the umpteenth missed opportunity.

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3 February 2019

European political parties – an ill-conceived system

Once every five years they awake, the European political parties, in the runup to the European elections. They choose their lead candidates and in a number of cases draw up 'platforms' the planks of which must be adopted by all of the affiliated national parties in their own European election manifestos. In the lead candidates, whose goal is to become Commission president, we have little interest, but neither would we like to think that our election manifesto was being determined in part by a European party of this kind. We'd rather leave that to our members. That's what's known as democracy, something which is missing from these European parties, most of which allow only national parties to be members, not individuals, a strange construction indeed.

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27 January 2019

Values, European or Universal?

Now that the knives are being sharpened for the European election campaigns, I'm struck by the way that the liberals, with people like Macron and Verhofstadt to the fore, are claiming that they want to defend 'European values', in particular from the populists. This is all a bit cheap and also dangerous. Cheap, because it's the (neo-)liberals who have left people to their fate with their striving for unbridled marketisation and budget fetishism which have led to the destruction of services in, for example, health care, education and the law. Dangerous too, because traditionally Europe has always sought universal values, human rights which are valid everywhere. Evidently the liberals have now withdrawn from this struggle in the belief that Europe knows better than the rest of the world, That is to misjudge decades of international negotiations in primarily the Council of Europe and the UN.

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21 January 2019

We don't need the European Commission to combat child poverty

Foto: SP

This week the European Parliament voted to approve a new European Social Fund that will cost more than €120 billion in the period from 2021 to 2027. The PvdA – the Dutch Labour Party – via a tweet from their MEP Agnes Jongerius - found it necessary to 'denounce' the SP for voting against this fund, including the €6 billion to fight child poverty, a vote which she found odd. I'll gladly pick up this gauntlet, not via a similarly childish tweet (although my fingers itched to do just that), but in my weekly blog.

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13 January 2019

How important are human rights?

It's no coincidence that well-informed journalists such as Bas Heijne and Hella Hueck are drawing attention to the damage which has been done in recent decades by the sacred belief in the market, the way in which people feel insecure, rejected and in competition with everyone else, a struggle which they think they will lose. It's time therefore to look for the tools to give people hope of a victory. In this context could the international human rights treaties add another strand, obliging everyone to take account of the interests of others? My answer is that they could not exactly do this, but they could certainly help.

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6 January 2019

European Parliament can't get enough luxury buildings

 Yellow jackets, Brexit, European elections : you'd expect the European Parliament to have become a little more reasoable, even humble, in relation to the citizenry of the member states. But when you consider the policy regarding their own buildings, there's not much sign of that. Expensive information offices in exclusive locations in every member state, and in Brussels, the purchase of the House of European History and of the Solvay Library, rebuilding and thorough renovation of the Paul Henri Spaak building, and to cap the lot a cool €3 million for guest accommodation at the Jean Monnet House in the region of Versailles. As a member of the Committee on Budgetary Control I'll be focusing on this behaviour worthy of the Sun King, and absolutely unworthy of people's representatives.

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