Blog Dennis de Jong

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. This has really nothing to do with democracy and transparency. It’s a pity that both the Dutch national Parliament and the EP have just sat back and let this happen.

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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. We are in no way satisfied with this. If necessary we will demand a plenary debate on the matter, because if the Commission knows so much about how the member states should combat corruption, it should be easy enough for it to hold a mirror up to itself.

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9 October 2016

Bayer and Monsanto – no happy marriage

Shortly in the European Parliament we’ll be discussing once more the annual report on EU competition policy. You’d be amazed by what’s possible. European Commissioner Margrethe Vestager recently answered my letter on Bayer’s takeover of Monsanto by saying she had received as yet no report of this, but she would certainly be looking into it. In my view the takeover should, however, have set alarm bells ringing, not only because of Monsanto’s questionable reputation, but principally because it raises the question as to when enough is enough, and when corporations become ‘too big to fail’. We have absolutely no need for such a chemical industry giant. If a takeover of this kind van happen under the existing policy, then in my view that policy should be changed.

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2 October 2016

The SP is sometimes, of course, in favour of European legislation

The SP is well-known to be an EU-critical party, and we are certainly that. No interference from Brussels and an end to the 30-year-old bond between the petty dictators in that city and the multinationals – these are what we stand for, along with such things as putting a stop to the revolving door which has delivered nice jobs to ex-Commissioners like Barroso, Kroes and now also the Dane Connie Hedegaard at major financial institutions and corporations. This revolving door leads, as anyone can see, to an unhealthy conflict of interests. But the SP works hard also on legislation which is good for ordinary people, such as the EU directive on legal aid which is a help in the fight against class justice. This week the results of the tough negotiations with the member states on this, which I conducted as the European Parliament’s Rapporteur on the proposal, will come before the member states, and we’ll be voting in favour.

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25 September 2016

The media too must get used to the end of ‘market think’

The national daily NRC’s comments on the possible re-election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the British Labour Party are strange indeed. Apparently his re-election would mean that Labour will be out of power for the next twenty years. Pure tunnel vision: apparently only parties that continue to believe in the market as a solution for everything can expect to be elected to government. We in the SP believe in people’s power. If hundreds of thousands voted for Corbyn and in doing so voted also for an end to the neoliberal thought which has characterised Labour since Tony Blair, it isn’t a ticket for permanent opposition, but the beginning of a new era.

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11 September 2016

Lessons of ‘Dieselgate’ - No to marketisation when our health and safety are at stake

Next week the entire European Parliament will head off to Strasbourg once again. On Monday evening I am taking part in a hearing of the committee of enquiry into what has been dubbed ‘Dieselgate’, the scandal of fraudulent software in cars. The European Commissioner for the Internal Market, Elżbieta Bieńkowska, will come along to explain to us that she is not completely au fait with the precise situation with regard to this dodgy software, because the member states have not given her all of the necessary information. The EP will be eager to help get her more power in relation to the member states, but the real problems begin elsewhere: Bieńkowska is committed to competition between the establishments which test cars, as well as many other products. I’m curious to see how she reacts to the idea of reversing privatisation and in the future allowing only non-profit state-owned establishments to conduct such tests.

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4 September 2016

Apple lobby leaves a nasty taste in the mouth

First of all ex-European Commissioner Neelie Kroes wrote a strongly-worded letter to The Guardian: her successor, the Dane Margrethe Verstager , must not interfere with the tax agreements between member states and multinationals like Apple.  Then, two members of the centre-left Dutch Labour Party (PvdA) repeated the argument in the Dutch daily De Telegraaf.  Apple has lobbyists everywhere. I would have expected this from Neelie Kroes, who is up to her ears in the world of the multinationals. That PvdA members lend themselves to it, however, is disappointing. That we shouldn't be putting ourselves in the hands of the European Commission when it comes to taxation policy is something that I have always argued.  And multinationals must one way or another start to pay a decent amount of tax, though neither Neelie Kroes nor the Labourites seem to be able to get this through their skulls. 

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28 August 2016

Ex-European Commissioner Verheugen and his friends in the auto industry

I’ll be taking part, on behalf of the United Left Group (GUE-NGL) in the European Parliament, to which the SP is affiliated, in a hearing of the committee charged with investigating “Dieselgate”, the affair involving fraudulent software employed by certain car companies to disguise the true extent of their products’ CO2 emissions. Amongst those whom we will be interrogating will be former European Commissioner Günter Verheugen. This German politician has close links to the auto industry and it was under his reign that the unclear legislation was enacted which made the dodgy software possible. In his answers to our written questions Verheugen denies that the legislation was obscure. It was, he says, perfectly clear. Yet if that was the case, then the car manufacturers have still been involved in illegal activity. So won’t they have to compensate European Union for past damage consumers who bought their cars, as they have had to do in the United States? Is Verheugen indeed going to drop his old car chums in it, just to keep his own nose clean? I’m curious to find out.

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7 August 2016

This autumn the EU will reach a crossroads

In September the European Parliament will begin its deliberations on the proposals from the Belgian Liberal Guy Verhofstadt for a superstate complete with European ministers. At the same time four eastern member states, including Slovakia, which since 1st July has held the EU’s rotating presidency, have announced their intentions to come up with concrete proposals for a looser EU, one in which national parliaments would have more say. We in the SP are against a superstate, because we believe in giving as much control as possible to people over their own lives and their own surroundings. So we see the clash between Verhofstadt – and likely many other MEPs – and the Slovakian EU presidency as a chance to present our own ideas - such as the abolition of the European Commission - formally in both the Dutch national Parliament and the EP.

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31 July 2016

Juncker’s European investment Fund is mainly for the old boys’ network

Eighteen months ago the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude  Juncker, announced that he was going to ensure that investment would return to Europe. The EU budget would guarantee €16 billion and the European Investment Bank (EIB) a further €5 billion.  Along with those sums private investors would provide additional finance. In total, €315 billion on innovative investment would be created. According to a celebratory report from the Commission, since then an agreement has been reached on €100 billion in concrete investments. But what has emerged is that the money is not only being administered by the financial ‘old boys network’, but is also flowing into the coffers of the selfsame group of chums. The Juncker fund is not only undemocratic, but on top of that it lacks both innovativeness and integrity. 

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