Blog Dennis de Jong

1 January 2012

Happy New Year!

Dennis de Jong2012 could well be just as turbulent as 2011, or perhaps even more so. It may seem peaceful in the eurozone, but as yet there have been no truly structural solutions. Meanwhile, poverty and unemployment spread and the whole of Europe remains wedded to deep austerity, which can only make the problem worse. That’s why I say, at the top of my voice: let’s make this a Happy New Year, for example through early elections in the Netherlands and a referendum at last on all the measures within the framework of a federal European Economic Governance. Two New Year’s Resolutions to start us off.

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18 December 2011

The SP’s ideas on the Eurocrisis

My Christian Democrat colleague Wim van der Camp tried it on Friday evening on the television talk show ‘Pauw en Witteman’; the parliamentary leader of the neoliberal VVD, Stef Blok, made a feeble attempt to do the same this morning on the Sunday politics programme ‘Buitenhof’: the SP, they said, would have no idea how to get us out of this eurocrisis. According to Van der Camp, that meant we had no right to say any more on the subject. How arrogant can you be? If they’d listened to the SP in the 1990s we wouldn’t now be saddled with a ramshackle euro. And if they’d listened to us just last year, the problem of the Greek debt would have been addressed in a timely fashion and there need have been no contagion to other Eurozone countries. And now, too, we have sound ideas as to how things should proceed, yet probably only ten years from now will they admit how good our analyses were.

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11 December 2011

Poverty isn’t working in Europe

At least 6500 people took part yesterday in the demonstration in Den Bosch, where we drew the government’s attention to the fact that poverty exists in the Netherlands and that the fight against it should be taking priority. The government of Mark Rutte must be taken on, and the other European heads of government too show time and again that they don’t find combatting poverty all that important. They are fixated exclusively on getting rid of their budget deficits. What that means for people who already have things tough doesn’t seem to interest them. It’s high time that we subjected all of the proposals with which these heads of government pepper one another to a poverty test.

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27 November 2011

If Commission gets its way, Queen’s budget speech will become a farce

Prinsjesdag (Prince's Day in English) is the day on which the reigning monarch of the Netherlands (currently Queen Beatrix) addresses a joint session of the two houses of our Parliament, setting out the main features of government policy for the next twelve months. In the midst of all of the turbulence surrounding the euro the European Commission’s proposals for an even tighter European Economic Government have attracted little attention. Yet the Commission wants to make Prince’s Day into a farce, a day on which Parliament would receive no more than a draft budget. The parliamentary debate would come much later, when the Commission had given its views, sometimes even in the form of an alternative budget. How the Commission will arrive at this expression of its wisdom would not be subject to any monitoring. Neither our own Parliament nor the European Parliament would be able to have any input into its advice before it was issued. This would undermine, therefore, our democracy and in my view we should reject the idea out of hand.

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20 November 2011

Crime in Italy

It’s not attracted all that much attention, but a few weeks ago the United Nations published its annual report on organised crime internationally. It is estimated that in 2009 criminals earned some €1.5 trillion, almost 4% of the world economy. For Italy the sum was €116 billion. This is money that will not be counted in the formal economy, on which no tax will be paid, and that will not benefit the people who really need it. Organised crime in Italy accounts for 7.7% of the national income, whereas the comparable figure for Germany is 1.3% and for the US 2.3%. I hope then that Super Mario (Monti) in Rome isn’t looking only at spending cuts, but transforms himself into Superman to take on organised crime. That would be a lot fairer as well as being necessary if Italy is to tackle its structural problems and get back on its feet.

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6 November 2011

VAT’s less innocent than you think

This week I received a study which revealed that VAT is being systematically increased across the member states. According to this study, such increases are leading not only to more inflation and less economic growth, but also to an often forgotten effect, a reduction in the purchasing power of those on the lowest incomes.

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30 October 2011

Bankers’ influence on government leaders

Last week, we saw two meetings of European heads of government. During these European Council summits a crucial role was once again granted to the financial institutions’ leading lobbyist, Deutsche Bank Chairman Josef Ackermann. The government leaders had no choice about this, as their goal was to conclude a deal on the writing off of 50% of the Greek debt, and on a ‘voluntary’ basis.

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24 October 2011

European Parliament still throwing money away

On Wednesday the European Parliament will vote on next year’s EU budget. The report on which we will vote states that in order to stimulate economic growth we must not reduce this budget, but rather increase it by 4.2%. You might assume this to be just a bad joke, because this same parliament recently voted in favour of a package of measures designed to pressure national governments into imposing swingeing cuts in spending. So none of this makes any sense. The SP is at least consistent. We are for moderate and intelligent economies which do not harm the weakest in society, and this goes for the Netherlands as well as at the European level. That’s why I won’t be supporting this huge increase in the EU budget and will instead ask my fellow MEPs to set a good example and reduce their allowances for ‘general spending’ by 5%.

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18 October 2011

1 for all, in Europe too

Tents on Amsterdam’s Beursplein, riots in Rome, Wall Street occupied. We have seen nothing like this for a long time. The protests are attracting all kinds of people, but they all have one thing in common: they loath the way that politicians bow down before the speculators. That’s why the actions are directed against the grasping as much as against the politicians that repeatedly let them off the leash. As emerged yesterday during an SP day school, many branches are finding it difficult to get through to people who have turned their backs on politics for just this reason, and just when the SP could be making a difference, as the only party to have an action plan against speculators and the only party to defend people who need it most. On the Beursplein in Amsterdam, the Malieveld in The Hague, and in Brussels too, we must make it clear that the SP has always had the same line: against the grasping, and for the ordinary man and woman. We must help the unrest to find its way: only a common protest can lead to the fall of the Rutte government and drive the speculators back down their holes. So it’s 1 for all!

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9 October 2011

Stray dogs and symbolic politics

In the last few weeks the SP group in the European Parliament has been swamped with e-mails from people who, completely justifiably, are concerned about the fate of stray dogs in Romania. These people are asking me to sign an official EP Written Declaration urging the European Union to take action. I’m pleased by this concern for animal welfare, and I share it. It’s just that a Written Declaration won’t lead to anything, because this issue has nothing to do with the EU. Signing such a declaration is pure symbolic politics and the SP never takes part in such gestures. Instead I hope that all of those who have written will aim their fire directly at the Romanian government, for example by offering support to Romanian animal welfare groups. In this way far more would undoubtedly be achieved.

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