Blog Dennis de Jong

24 July 2016

Kafkaesque conditions in my fight against extortionate ticket prices for concert

Foto: Paige
In December of last year I promised, during a nationally broadcast television programme, that I would take up the cudgels at the European level against extortionate pricing for concert tickets. In addition I’m supporting a proposed national law from my colleague in The Hague, the SP Member of Parliament Jasper van Dijk. Sites via which you can but tickets are often established in other EU member states which prevents you from doing much against them under Dutch law. As at the moment there’s continual talk about legislative proposals for a ‘digital internal market’ I have been thinking that I could quickly add this to one of these measures. This is certainly possible, but the means to achieve it say a great deal about how ‘Brussels’ works. A brief impression of the Kafkaesque conditions in which I find myself mixed up.
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17 July 2016

And then of course there’s still the refugee crisis…

Brexit, terror in Nice, an attempted coup in Turkey: developments follow one on another so rapidly that you could almost forget that there’s also still a refugee crisis. Newly-published statistics from the European Commission and answers to questions from the European Parliament from the responsible Commissioner which tell us nothing show that there remain tens of thousands of people without adequate reception facilities, or with no accommodation at all, amongst whom are thousands of unaccompanied minors. Things are not going well, especially in Italy.

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10 July 2016

EU broken by the banks

In the aftermath of the Brexit referendum, the EU is creaking at the joints. Support for it is crumbling away. And what are the banks doing? Engaging former president of the European Commission Jose Barroso as the new man at Goldman Sachs. At the same time a ‘top economist’ from Deutsche Bank is implying that the EU tax payer will have to fork out €150 billion to rescue the Italian banks, or the crisis will threaten to spill over to the rest of Europe. How dare they? For the banks it’s apparently ‘business as usual’, but they must have reckoned without the popular fury which is rising to boiling point in almost every member state and which could lead, if things continue in this way, to the end of this European Union.

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3 July 2016

Eurozone unstable whether or not Finns hold referendum on currency

In the spring the Finnish parliament debated giving up the euro and returning to the Markka. Originally it appeared that the Finns might hold a referendum on the issue this autumn, but since then it turns out that even the extreme right ‘True Finns’ party would rather wait to see what the consequences of Brexit will be for the UK and have ruled out a referendum being held this year. So it seems Finland’s speedy withdrawal from the eurozone is off the agenda, but the euro remains nevertheless a shaky project and the Finance Ministers of the countries which use it, presided over by the Netherlands’ own Jeroen Dijsselbloem, would do well to be better prepared for the eurozone’s disintegration than the British were for a possible Brexit.

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26 June 2016

After the Brexit referendum, the masks come off in the EP

Tuesday will see an extraordinary plenary session of the European Parliament in the wake of the Brexit referendum. The centre-right European People’s Party, the centre-left Socialists and Democrats, the Liberal ALDI and the Greens have put forward a resolution which shows absolutely no respect for the British voter and includes no condemnation of the EU’s longstanding neoliberal policy. Instead these political groups call on the British to pack their bags as soon as they can and state that they should be heavily punished for their defiance. The masks have definitively fallen. The groups listed above have completely lost the plot. If they carry on like that, they will have no-one to blame but themselves for the collapse of the European Union.

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19 June 2016

To defend social rights in the EU, rein in the market

It was revealed this week that the European Commission was taking Germany and France to court in connection with the introduction of a minimum wage for all truck drivers who take on loads within their countries. In the Commission’s view, this would distort competition. This is typical of the tunnel vision which invariably still prevails in Brussels. Now people in most member states have had enough of this marketisation, and Brussels is going to have to change course and curb these unbridled market forces.

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12 June 2016

It’s not international solidarity that should be consigned to the scrapheap, but the European Commission

This week the European Commission presented its proposals for a migration compact with a number of developing countries, most of them in Africa. They further presented a proposal which would make it easier for well-educated people to enter the EU to work. Both measures demonstrate that the Commission continues to think only of the interests of major corporations, while ignoring the interests of ordinary people.

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5 June 2016

It’s five to midnight for the European Union

The countdown to the UK’s Brexit-referendum has begun. It’s striking how contradictory are the reactions to this here in Brussels. Last week the Polish president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, told a meeting of European Christian Democrat and other centre-right parties that we shouldn’t move too fast on European integration. A few days later the Belgian Liberal MEP Guy Verhofstadt asserted that without the UK on board it would be easier to move towards a really federal Europe. This shows how divided the European Union is and how fragile. The SP saw this coming years ago. When we advocate a looser form of cooperation between member states, we are often accused of provincialism, yet it is precisely such a cautious approach which could prevent the whole thing from falling to bits.

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29 May 2016

Will the European Commission really start to advocate secure jobs?

On this occasion not so much attention was paid to the event, but on May 18th the European Commission published its so-called 'country recommendations'. The SP is opposed to all of this meddling, but the document remains an interesting read, especially now that in one of its three recommendations the Commission states unequivocally that the growth in the number of one-person businesses is a problem which must be addressed. Is this the same body which for years was advocating 'flexicurity' and flexible employment conditions?

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22 May 2016

Action not words in the fight against crime

Every day Raoul can be found in his shop in Rotterdam. He is committed 100% to the business. It’s always a great pleasure to go there, and he’s always got time for a chat. Recently, his tone has been serious. He had been, as have so many of the town’s shopkeepers, the victim of a hold-up. Fortunately no-one was wounded – or worse – but the shock left its mark. The attacker in this case was a homeless man, but in many cases such attacks are carried out by gangs who roam freely across Europe. Tomorrow the SP holds its day dedicated to the interests of small businesses, and one of the topics for discussion will be the best way to tackle this form of criminality. It’s a pity that despite several weeks of enquiring at the Ministry of Security and Justice, we have been unable to find an official willing to come to inform us about cooperation on this matter within Europe. The SP has taken action to try both in our national parliament in The Hague and in the European Parliament to improve protection for shopkeepers. We’ll do so until there’s some sign that Justice Minister Ard van der Steur is just as committed.

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