Blog Dennis de Jong

2 October 2011

Are local authorities going to suffer less meddling from Brussels?

You would hardly expect it in a week when the European Parliament also voted to back the new laws on European economic governance, but last Friday Commission officials confirmed that they were intending to interfere less in the work of local and regional authorities. This principally concerns the obligatory tender process and accusations of unjustified state aid. Tomorrow I intend to put these promises to the test, by asking the Commission if it is in agreement with the raising of the income threshold for social housing so that people earning €33.000-€43.000 per annum can be considered for social rented apartments and houses.

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26 September 2011

Strasbourg once again – thanks to Rutte!

The cases are packed: the travelling circus hits the road once more, and for the second time in a month. Last year the European Parliament decided to run the two September Strasbourg sessions into each other to have at least one less trip to make. France wasn’t happy with this and fought the decision at the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg. Luxembourg supported the French line, while the other member states, including the Netherlands, decided to say nothing in support of the EP. This is what happens time after time. In their own country Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his government are busy cutting everything and anything with a blunt axe, but in Brussels chance after chance to clamp down on unnecessary spending goes begging.

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18 September 2011

Unforeseeable scenarios of the eurocrisis

Things have been extremely tense both in The Hague and in Brussels: Finance Minister Jan Kees de Jager would at last tell us what would happen if Greece really did go bankrupt or even walked out of the Eurozone. More than a year ago I was already asking the European Commission for this information, but at the time their view was that these were ‘not options’. So De Jager could have been, even for parliamentarians in Brussels, a unique source of information. But it was not to be: the Minister is prepared to inform Members of Parliament, but only behind closed doors. This would be fitting in a dictatorship, but not in the democracy that the Netherlands is supposed to be.

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11 September 2011

EP buildings as propaganda

This week, all Euro-MPs and their assistants received a letter from the Secretariat of the European Parliament. In the letter it was stated that from now on it would be forbidden to continue using abbreviations for the EP’s buildings, each of which is named after one of the European Union’s founders. By using these names in full we would be contributing to the name-recognition of these founders, which is of course important to a feeling of European togetherness. Can this get any dafter?

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4 September 2011

Political Leadership

The chair of the Liberal group in the European Parliament, Guy Verhofstadt, issues persistent pleas for political leadership. What he means by this is that leaders of governments ‘must have the courage to opt for a United States of Europe’, even if the vast majority of the population don’t want any such thing: it must be, in order to calm the financial markets. This is prettily put, but ugly all the same. It isn’t the European public who caused the crisis, but the speculators, so I don’t think it offers much evidence of leadership if you saddle the people with a neoliberal European economic governance that looks primarily to austerity and to cuts in public provision. In my view political leadership would involve chasing the speculators back down into the pit where they belong. That’s why we have this week brought forward a number of proposals for a European action plan against speculators. I am curious to know whether Verhofstadt has the courage to show leadership in this matter, but I fear the worst. His pals from the financial lobby wouldn’t like that one little bit.

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28 August 2011

Salaries in the EU institutions

This week, in an interview on a Dutch website, I proposed that the salaries of EU officials be halved. I received a large response from people who said that they were relieved that at last someone wanted to do something about these ridiculously high wages, but I also got hate-mail….from EU officials. Despite this hate-mail (or perhaps in part because of it, indeed) I am going to make a real attempt to press this issue - in the negotiations over the EU multi-annual budget, and in the framework of the revision of the conditions of service which is on the agenda for 2012-2013.

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24 July 2011

Holidays - for the euro too?

In the run-up to last week’s extraordinary summit there was a prevailing atmosphere of excitement, but as the results became known this quickly ebbed away. Yet the government leaders have a great deal to explain to their countries’ citizens, having in essence stuck their heads further into the noose, without in reality having taken any effective measures. The worst possible scenario has arrived.

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17 July 2011


In addition to the eurocrisis, we now have the dollar crisis. No wonder that increasing numbers of people are afraid of what’s round the corner. Under such circumstances you should be able to expect decisive leadership and clear choices over Europe’s future. We are now, however, at a crisis point. During the extraordinary summit on 21st July, government leaders must make it clear that they will not transfer any further powers and that that they will opt for a partial annulment of the Greek debt. Otherwise the eurocrisis will without doubt lead to further steps in the direction of a European superstate.

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13 July 2011

Commissions opens the door too wide

This week I am going to present substantial amendments to a number of legislative proposals from the European Commission. These proposals concern the opening of the European labour market for personnel from multinationals and the admission of seasonal workers. In both cases the Commission is looking to open the door too wide, giving workers from outside the EU the chance to take jobs which could go to people within the EU. As long as unemployment remains high, even continuing to grow in a number of member states, we need to be cautious over the admission of workers from third countries.

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3 July 2011

Still no summer recess

Much of the Netherlands has taken off this weekend for the holidays, the national Parliament has begun its recess, but in the European Parliament we have three weeks to go, next week being taken up with a full plenary session agenda in Strasbourg. Yet in the EP too the scent of holidays is in the air. This week, for instance, we’ll discuss the common European emergency number, 112. Useful if you’re on holiday, it means – at least in theory - that you can call emergency services on the same number throughout the twenty-seven member states. But problems remain.

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