Blog Dennis de Jong

26 June 2011

Action, action, action?

It’s been a bad week for social Europe. Not only did the European Parliament vote in favour of the main points in the plans for European economic governance, but the heads of member state governments reached an agreement in principle on yet another loan to the banks (via Greece). Both decisions are quite the reverse of what the majority of Dutch citizens want, yet the streets remain almost empty. On 21st June the European trade union movement demonstrated in Luxembourg, but few turned up from the Netherlands. How is it that while most Dutch people are extremely critical of these EU decisions, they’re not taking action?

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19 June 2011

Bankers and democracy

Outgoing president of the Dutch national bank (De Nederlandse Bank) Nout Wellink has had a great deal to say for himself this week. He wants, for example, emergency financial aid to Eurozone countries no longer to be subject to unanimous decision, which would mean that the government of the Netherlands could no longer object should the country be obliged to contribute to new loans or funds. In my opinion this shows contempt for the most basic principles of democracy, one of which is that the citizen, as he or she pays taxes, should have a say in how these are spent. This is typical of the arrogance of bankers in general, who know that in recent years they have had more power than have the people’s representatives. Now that they face more criticism, they are showing their true face, a face of arrogance and contempt. It is time then that concrete plans were made to rein in their influence. And when it comes to renewed aid, the Netherlands must in my view never give up our veto right.

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5 June 2011

Gambling in Europe

The debate around gambling is flaring up once again: should gambling not be considered a normal sector of the internal market and thus liberalised? In fact, most European governments, and to date a majority of MEPs, share the SP’s view that gambling is no ordinary economic activity. The lobby in favour of liberalising gambling and its on-line variant is, however, extremely active. No wonder, when you consider that what we have here is a multi-billion euro industry. Of course, I am personally completely opposed to liberalisation: lack of enforcement of the law means that the gambling industry is already out of control. But that doesn’t mean that the government should withdraw completely from the fray, creating even more victims of gambling addiction than already exist.

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22 May 2011

These Greeks though…

A shopkeeper I was chatting to yesterday summed it up: everyone goes on about Greece with its lazy Greeks, but Greeks aren’t really like that, are they? As a small businessman he knows how to run his own business – work hard, with long days and paperwork at the weekend. Just the kind of person you find so many of in Greece, a country of merchants and small independent business people, and right now it’s they who are getting hit. That’s what gets me about Geert Wilders: first it was the fanatical Muslims, now it’s the lazy Greeks. Basing your approach on prejudices seldom produces good policy. It’s a good thing, an extremely necessary thing, that we should debate amongst ourselves the question of whether we should really be putting more money into a bankrupt country, but if so we should at least be speaking about the real situation.

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15 May 2011

Rutte government is not to be trusted

With our campaign ‘The Talons of Europe’, the SP is trying to expose the fact that on 24th June Dutch Premier Mark Rutte, during the meeting of the European Council (the heads of EU governments), will actually transfer powers to Brussels in the areas of wage policy, pensions and state spending . He may have stated the opposite, but if you read the papers you’ll know better. Even this, however, can’t be compared to the misleading statements of Finance MInister Jan Kees de Jager: scarcely a year ago, he said that loans to Greece were a useful investment from which we would even make a profit. And now he threatens hell-fire and doom if we don’t fork out again. It’s high time that this cabinet learnt that you, the voter, can’t be led repeatedly up the garden path. When it comes to Europe, at least, this government excels at half truths and misleading remarks, to the extent that it has in my opinion lost all credibility.

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8 May 2011


Yesterday in Amersfoort I addressed a large number of critical trade unionists at a meeting of Solidair, the network of union activists who are also members or supporters of the SP. A militant trade union movement is needed in the Netherlands now that the Rutte government has launched an attack on working people on all fronts. My role is to show people that this government and its right-wing chums use ‘Brussels’ as a vehicle for their neoliberal policies and, together with people from the trade union movement, ensure that we step up the pressure on Rutte not to put his name to the package of proposals on European Economic Governance due to be signed by heads of EU government that day. The implementation of these proposals would, in the space of a few years, make neoliberal policies obligatory for all Eurozone countries. Fortunately, many of those in attendance were prepared to put their backs into the task of making this the unions’ number one priority.

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1 May 2011

Who will pay the Greek debt?

In actual fact I shouldn’t, according to the banking experts, be writing this weeklog at all: if I say things aren’t going well for Greece, I’ll add to the unrest on the financial markets, making myself partly responsible for the disaster which lies in wait, not only for Greece itself, but for countries such as the Netherlands and Germany. But I won’t let myself be blackmailed by speculators: as things stand things are going very badly in Greece and the chance that the Greeks will ever be able to pay off their debts in full is practically nil. That being the case, the chances are great that it will not be the speculators but, once again, the taxpayer who will have to foot the bill. The sole reason for this is mismanagement by European finance ministers who are stuck in their own wishful fantasies instead of looking the facts squarely in the face, and who, worse still, always allow themselves to be guided by the interests of the speculators.

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17 April 2011

Government Lies

During the SP’s regional conferences in Bergen op Zoom and Arnhem on the last two Saturdays I was asked to introduce the discussion on the economic crisis. The central theme was the same: we are being taken for fools by the government of Mark Rutte – over the alleged need for spending cuts, over the consequences of these cuts for people on low or average incomes, and over the powers the government is transferring to Brussels. As far as this last is concerned, a little over a week ago Finance Minister Jan Kees de Jager voted to approve the indicators with which Brussels will be putting the member states to the test. Amongst them will be matters such as wages and house prices. In the next few weeks European Finance Ministers will further elaborate these plans, but the main points have already been determined. The European Commission will gain the power to make ‘recommendations’ which the member states will be obliged to follow, for example if the Commission believes wages are rising too much or too quickly, or that the housing market is unstable.

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10 April 2011

Crisis Committee

Everything comes to an end, including the existence of the European Parliament Crisis Committee. The results were disappointing, the draft final report being not much better than the interim report. This week I intend to propose another pile of amendments, but I fear that the majority will simply follow the line that the costs of the crisis must be paid by ordinary people, while the speculators must for the most part be left undisturbed. So – a missed chance.

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27 March 2011

Corrupt Euro-MPs

Three Members of the European Parliament have once again given the institution’s reputation a hard knock. The three agreed to the request of a group of lobbyists to propose and vote for various measures of interest to these lobbyists. In return they would receive sums amounting to €100,000 per year. In reality the people who approached them weren’t lobbyists at all, but journalists from the (British) Sunday Times. Two of the three have since resigned; the third remains in post. The only good news is that there now, all of a sudden, appears to be a chance to put through a number of measures aimed at reducing the improper influence of lobbyists.

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