Blog Dennis de Jong

8 January 2017

The week of dishonest men

In a single week in Brussels three dishonest men have been in the news and the only question now is whether they will leave the stage or grow even more powerful. The president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, turns out to be even more intensely involved in tax dodging by multinationals than recently seemed to be the case. Austrian Commissioner Günther Oettinger, who was caught not long ago making sexist remarks and has been involved in a case of conflict of interest, is now apparently being envisaged as the new Commission Vice-President. And to make matters worse the big corporations’ champion, Guy Verhofstadt, has declared his candidacy for president of the European Parliament. With friends like these, the EU has no need of enemies.

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1 January 2017

Building on the ruins

Eurocritical politicians are often put down as gloomy types who are always negative. The opposite is true. If the SP has criticisms to level at the greed merchants in Brussels, it’s because we believe, as do most people in the Netherlands and in Europe, that an end must be put to this neoliberal, interfering, wasteful “Brussels”. We do, however, want to build a Europe in which we cooperate to achieve goals for which there is support, things which are useful. Building on the ruins which European politicians, with the European Commission to the fore, have made of the EU, is a challenge, but it can be done, and with just the same enthusiasm as the Europhiles exhibit in appearing so happy with the actually existing ‘Brussels’.

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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. It means a lot of work, but if we are to defeat the extreme right in Europe, we will have to combine our forces and I’m happy to make a contribution to this.

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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. Systematically the influence of smaller, critical political groups is being eroded. This is a way of doing things which is scarcely democratic, and which is unworthy of a parliament.

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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. The conference which the SP held yesterday with a number of sister parties in Maastricht was where you wanted to be to hear clear language. After twenty-five years of neoliberal deception it’s time for a new EU treaty which puts the national parliaments back in the driver’s seat. While the neoliberals twist and turn, the modern left is clear: No to this EU; build a new form of European cooperation.

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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. Verhofstadt is blind and deaf to public concerns, yet he is being recommended by the outgoing chair of the European Parliament, German social democrat Martin Schulz, to be the EP’s representative in the Brexit negotiations.

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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. Not only Bertelsmann, but also the European Commission itself has now come to the conclusion that state investment wouldn’t be such a crazy idea. It’s indeed sad that we can talk of seven lost years in which all member states alike imposed spending cuts and in so doing held back economic recovery. If only people had listened to the SP and in particular the party’s leader Emile Roemer when he stood up against the 3% norm laid down by Brussels.

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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. An example of this was provided by the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Canada.

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