2019 – the year of truth?

1 January 2019

2019 – the year of truth?

It's January 1st, the day we recuperate and look to the future. And for the SP's group in the European Parliament that means rounding off ongoing tasks and getting ready for May's European elections. And we're not the only ones to whom this applies. French President Immanuel Macron and Dutch European Commissioner Frans Timmermans have for weeks been busily constructing their profiles. Over one thing they are in passionate agreement: these European elections will pose the question of whether they can keep the European Union out of the hands of the populists or will see it smashed to pieces. But don't be fooled. It's not a matter of whether the the EU will survive, but of whether we can free it from the yoke of the multinationals under the weight of which it has bowed for so many decades. The real conflict is not over whether we like the EU or not, but about whether we can get it to work in the interests of ordinary people. For that to happen,the power of the multinationals and of the Eurocrats must first be broken.

It's all extremely transparent. Macron and Timmermans are hoping (respectively) to win liberal and social democratic votes by opposing the populists, by which they mean the extreme right. They are right when they say that these people offer no solutions and are simply playing on the negative feelings harboured by many people towards the EU. Yet in essence Macron is no better. The gilets jaunes ('yellow vests' or 'yellow jackets') have already got him figured out as someone who to date has been the president of the elite, of the well-off 10%. It's extremely difficult now for him to present himself as a president for all French people and it's questionable whether he can ever succeed in that. It was precisely people like Macron who handed the European Union to the fetishism of the market and the budgets, the things that now makes him so unpopular amongst ordinary men and women in France itself.

The same goes for the Brussels bubble: Juncker, Timmermans and the other European Commissioners have to date served principally the interests of the elite. The entirety of EU policy is based on a sacred belief in unbridled marketisation. Good for multinationals, but bad for the workers who are exploited and set one against another. The fact that everywhere in the European Union so many people have been caught in thetrap of poverty, dependent on insecure employment has been caused in part by years of European policy aimed at flexibility in the labour market.

Candidates for the European elections should not be judged on their 'European feeling' but on how prepared they are to stand up for the 90%, for people who want decent education, good health care and effective security, and who no longer accept that it is always the interests of the shareholders which hold sway in Brussels. In short, people who believe it's time for justice. These people have no time for Macron and Timmermans. So I wish all my readers a 2019 in which we blow away the smokescreen and go for real change. For justice.

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