Blog Dennis de Jong

11 November 2018

Remember - and look ahead

The heads of state and government of Europe turned much of their attention today to the commemoration of the end of the First World War. That's a good thing, because every war was and is one too many. But the French president Immanuel Macron chose to make this the start of his campaign for the European elections. Showing his colours, he entered the liberal 'family' of which the Dutchman and member of the ruling VVD party Hans van Baalen is the chair, the ALDE. In doing this they are identifying themselves with the europhile 'centre', according to which next year's elections revolve around whether you are for or against European cooperation. This is all simply a smokescreen. The real choice is between still more neoliberal predatory capitalism, and a just society where it isn't Shell and Unilever but the workers and small firms who call the shots. In other words it's between the right, which includes Macron, and parties such as the SP. Time to turn off the smoke machines and clear the air. Time for justice.

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4 November 2018

European Parliament can't wait to spend taxpayers' money

The money which the European Union has at its disposal is primarily dependent on a multi-annual budget drawn up for a period of seven years. This budget is decided by the member states, with the European Parliament enjoying no more than a 'veto or approve' vote. With the help of the European Commission, however, there's more to it than that for the EP. In all sorts of policy areas we are receiving in rapid tempo proposals for programmes. This involves a normal legislative procedure, one which gives the Parliament a role, and once a programme has been adopted it will be written in stone for several years, including its costs. This is fine for the EP, which thus gets a greater say. I don't understand, however, why the heads of government, such as our own Prime minister Mark Rutte, go along with it,. I would have thought they would be concerned to save taxpayers' money, but by agreeing to so many programmes they risk the multi-annual budget turning out to be very expensive indeed.

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28 October 2018

Arms sales before justice


The Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is even less popular than before' following the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Attacks on human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia, the complete lack of freedom of religion and opinion and the Saudi involvement in war crimes in Yemen: the international community knew about those things. But Khashoggi is another question, one too obvious to ignore. Yet I'm not optimistic. As long as the interests of big capital weigh more heavily that those of the people, the US and European commitment to human rights will remain utterly hypocritical.

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22 October 2018

Dangerous tunnel vision surrounds Brexit

In my weeklogs I rarely react to other columns, but the one published this week by the daily newspaper NRC and written by their columnist Caroline de Gruyter cannot go unchallenged. She argues that the internal market is not negotiable, because otherwise there would be a falling out amongst member states over unfair advantages given to their own businesses, citing the requirements imposed on goods and services. Not a word about the internal market's victims, the workers and one-person businesses played off against each other. The need for an emergency brake when things start to run away from you is something De Gruyter simply doesn't understand. Rather an unbending EU, an EU which will defend the internal market with fire and sword to the last ditch, than a deal with the UK. Because of this, the chance of a hard Brexit grows by the day. Then the member states will be able to really get stuck in: on the other side of the North Sea raw capitalism will have free rein, with once again the workers and small businesses as the principal victims.

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7 October 2018

Worldwide approach needed for the protection of refugees

This week SP Member of Parliament Jasper van Dijk produced five questions and answers which the SP wants to see as the basis for the protection of refugees. These proposals proceed seamlessly from my own 2015 plan as well as from the Global Compact for Refugees which the UN High Commission for Refugees presented this month to the General Assembly. Support from the international community must be drastically increased and people should not be left to live for long periods in camps. The most vulnerable people who cannot stay in their region must be resettled. And an end must be put as rapidly as possible to the horrors which people have to confront on their way to a safe haven.

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30 September 2018

Golden cages and slave shackles in the European Parliament

A few years ago I used to regularly write about the ridiculously high salaries paid to EU officials. These salaries remain extremely high, and for that reason few of these employees ever leave. They do find this frustrating, however, because they often don't come into consideration when it comes to internal promotions, with more senior posts going to political appointees. Moreover, not all positions are all that lucrative. Recently there was discontent among canteen workers. Now it's the turn of attendants at the House of European History to sound the alarm. They don't work directly for the European Parliament, but respectively for a catering firm and a 'payroller', a company which exists purely to provide labour-related services for other firms, and which don't always look too closely at the working conditions of people they hire. Amongst the museum attendants, there's even talk of modern slave labour. Rich or poor, a great many employees are experiencing frustration, and this must be ended.

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23 September 2018

Should we be bothered about who succeeds Juncker?

Last week was loud with the buzz of rumours. Would the Dutch Commissioner Frans Timmermans put himself forward as the leading candidate of the centre-left for the position of president of the European Commission? On the centre-right side, would it be the German Manfred Weber, the Frenchman in charge of negotiating Brexit, Michel Barnier, or even the Slovak Maroš Šefčovič? And does it really matter? The SP has never seen any value in this system. It's not after all about electing a president of the United States of Europe, but merely a top official. And yet the propaganda circus is once again running at full speed.

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16 September 2018

A golden share for the workers? That's what's happened in Rotterdam

Foto: Rene Boulay

SP leader Lilian Marijnissen summed it up beautifully during yesterday's launch of the SP campaign 'Time for Justice' on the dock in Rotterdam: we want a golden share for all workers. No more takeovers against the wishes of the employees. Donner's bookshop in the same city is an example of this. Spirited workers saved the firm from bankruptcy and are now to a large extent the boss of the company. Later this year I'll be organising a meeting on this in the European Parliament, because European company law is about to be revised. It's time for justice – time for a golden share.

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12 September 2018

Can a Federal Europe ever be democratic?

The most europhile MEPs, often from the liberal ALDI or Greens, have united in what they call the Spinelli Group, named after the founder of the European federalist movement. Last week they brought out a new manifesto, in which they make a number of proposals for a sovereign and democratic Europe. But could a United States of Europe ever be truly democratic?

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2 September 2018

Human rights are about more than individual rights

Next Tuesday, together with Christian Union MEP Peter van Dalen, I'll be presenting the annual report we put together on behalf of the European Parliament Intergroup on Freedom of Religion or Belief and Religious Tolerance. In this report the emphasis will be on the collective aspects of this freedom. Too often human rights are seen as individual rights in the style of 'I have to do this, so it must be allowed.' But all of your human rights are protected, your privacy as well as your rights as part of a community. Take for example your freedom to organise in a trade union, or the many social rights which a properly functioning welfare system demands. You don't hear much about this from politicians on the right, but these same politicians are demolishing communities in rapid tempo. It is precisely that – working together for a better world - that for me is the core of human rights.

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