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Blog Dennis de Jong

16 August 2010

Waste

SP activist protest against the EU's waste of money

SP activists protest against the EU's waste of money

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25 July 2010

The trade union movement and public property

It's peaceful at the European Parliament at the moment, as there's almost nobody here. The SP group also takes a break, and for the next three weeks our offices will be empty, just like all the other offices. So this is an excellent opportunity to read all of those reports which as a Euro-MP one receives daily. Amongst these is an outstanding report from the European trade union movement on public services. Making use of certain new provisions contained in the Lisbon Treaty, the trade union movement wants an assurance from the European Commission that local, regional and national authorities will again be able to take their own decisions regarding public services, without being continually hampered by Brussels. The Commission would like to see everything as the 'market', and the authorities forced to farm out public services to private parties. Precisely what the Commission wants: the more market, the more opportunities for major corporations, something the Commission has been fond of for twenty years or more.

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18 July 2010

Human rights policy and the European Parliament

This week I welcomed a delegation from the Ahmadis. The Ahmadis regard themselves as Muslims, but follow their own interpretation of Islam. For this, reason in many Muslim countries, in particular Pakistan, they are discriminated against and persecuted. I always find such meetings impressive, but at the same time must explain that in relation to foreign policy the Dutch national parliament has much more power than does the European Parliament. Certainly, in the EP a large number of resolutions are adopted, but their value is purely symbolic. Only where treaties with third countries are concerned does the EP have any real say in matters.

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11 July 2010

European Ombudsman an ally in battle for greater transparency

Several weeks ago I had a lengthy discussion with the European Ombudsman during which we agreed to work together to make Brussels more transparent. The Ombudsman shares my concerns regarding the influence of major corporations on the European institutions' decisions. He expressed great interest in the action plan that I launched last year, a plan directed at both the Commission and at the European Parliament itself. This week it transpired that he had meant what he said, when he instructed the Commission, as soon as is possible, to make public the hitherto secret letters from Porsche, sent in 2007 with the clear intention of influencing the Commission in its preparation of a decision regarding CO2 emissions from cars. The Commission has resisted this tooth and nail, which would hardly have been necessary had they had nothing to hide.

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22 June 2010

European Council puts member states into straight-jacket of austerity

On 17th June the leaders of Europe's governments adopted, as expected, a number of conclusions in relation to the economic crisis. It is disappointing to see the European Council laying such a one-sided emphasis on austerity. The thumbscrews are being turned, the sanctions on failure to make cuts increased. But any attention to rewarding work or effective measures against poverty is missing, while not a single word was said about the need for good public services. The only glimmer of light was that the heads of government were in agreement that surveillance of banks must be improved and that member states should introduce a bank levy.

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13 June 2010

Spending cuts in Brussels, and international solidarity

The last few weeks have of course been emotional and tumultuous, as a result of Kartika Liotard's sudden decision to resign from the SP. Nevertheless, day-to-day work continues. Last Friday I received the good news that the United Left, the European Parliamentary political group to which the SP belongs, has decided to nominate me as a substitute member of the newly established temporary committee to prepare the ground for negotiations over the EU's multi-annual budget. This is an extremely fascinating task, because it is on the basis of this multi-annual budget that the Netherlands' contribution over the coming years will be determined, as will the EU's priorities.

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2 June 2010

Europe's border patrol - FRONTEX

Tomorrow in the European Parliament Civil Liberties Committee we will be voting on the accession of Switzerland and Lichtenstein to FRONTEX, the European cooperation organisation for control of borders and the return of people who have been refused asylum, and of illegal immigrants. The SP stands for human dignity and FRONTEX is primarily a cold-hearted operation designed to expel people and keep them out. That's not to say that some kind of effective border guard and some means of returning people who have no legitimate right to be here isn't necessary, because the alternative would be the American situation in which illegal residence is often condoned but the people involved are put into the hands of traffickers who exploit them in the extreme. I will follow the United Left vote list and vote against the extension of Frontex to Switzerland and Lichtenstein. I'm not interested in symbolic politics, however, so at the same time I shall urge the reform of FRONTEX, so that we can develop a more humane form of border control than is currently the case, a more constructive approach than standing on the sidelines and simply voting 'against'.

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23 May 2010

European Parliament free with our money

This week focused for the most part, of course, on the unstable euro. Just like their colleagues in the Netherlands, Europe's market-minded liberals and right-wing Christian Democrats hammered away at the message that the only way that the euro can be saved is via drastic spending cuts in the member states. Against such a background it's a sad business to contemplate that when it comes to the European Parliament's own spending, Members are happy to carry on chucking money around: you have to look after your mates, after all.

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9 May 2010

EURO Solidarity

The Eurozone is coming apart at the seams. Government leaders declare their solidarity with Greece, at the same time paying up once again for the risks banks took, with all the instability this brings. And the bill ? You’ll be getting that this autumn with the new government’s budget review – because it won’t be the banks but ordinary people who will once again be stuck with the costs. Instead of going further down the already failed route of pumping ever more money into the uncompetitive economies of the southern European states, government leaders would have done better to admit that the existing composition of the eurozone isn’t working and that the southern member states must be given the space to consider whether the creation of a second eurozone with a less exacting euro would not be better than an infusion of financial support from Brussels and the neoliberal conditions on which such support will depend.

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11 April 2010

What about the European Single Market?

As members of the SP we don't exactly get a warm feeling when we hear the word 'market', and definitely not when we hear 'European internal market'. This has always been a neoliberal project, under which social and environmental interests are subordinated to the principle of unbridled competition. The economic crisis was a direct consequence of this exaggerated confidence in 'the market'. Still, in the European Parliament the tide now appears to be turning. For the very first time the Parliament has produced a report in which the Commission is at last called upon to take measures to prioritise the general interest over that of 'the market'. One swallow doesn't make a summer, but this is a better message than we have heard from Brussels in a very long time.

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