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Blog Dennis de Jong

14 March 2010

One more time – off to Strasbourg and back again

This week my fellow MEP, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert of the right-wing liberal VVD, suddenly took the initiative to send a letter to the new permanent president of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, asking him to put an end to the monthly circus that is the European Parliament's trek to Strasbourg. Great that there is at last some attention being paid to this issue, but the initiative itself, far from being a bold move, reeks of symbolic politics.

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7 March 2010

Save the postal worker!

Last week I was co-organiser of three meetings at the European Parliament. The themes were extremely diverse: freedom of religion and ideology, the division of responsibility for asylum seekers amongst the EU member states, and the liberalisation of the postal market. A busy week, and at a time when the local elections and Agnes Kant's resignation as SP leader and replacement by Emile Roemer of course took all the attention. But in each of these meetings there were many other people involved, so despite the inconvenient timing we couldn't really cancel any of them.

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28 February 2010

Local council elections and Europe

If, after a good election result in the local elections on 3rd March, we find ourselves in the ruling coalitions in a number of councils, but also if we are working from a position of opposition, seeking and maintaining contact with the SP's group in the European Parliament can be useful: many subjects are now determined by European rules and we can sometimes help people to deal with these rules or, where necessary, to change them. We hope then to have even more contacts with SP branches in the years to come than has already been the case.

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21 February 2010

Europe and the building industry

There is a great deal wrong in the building industry: officially, everyone agrees that there should be equal pay for equal work, but in practice things aren't quite like that. Many people work illegally in the building trade and surveillance is inadequate. Often, it's international networks who provide these illegal workers. There is also the problem of people who, while formally self-employed, work in practice for only one employer and under working conditions much less favourable than those of actual employees.

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14 February 2010

Cooperating with other parties in the EP

In order to achieve anything in the European Parliament, you have to cooperate with other parties. That holds true even for the biggest group, the Christian Democrats of the European People’s Party, who this week suffered a number of setbacks as a result of finding insufficient support from other groups, The SP Eurogroup tries always to behave constructively in order to record as many concrete results as possible.

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7 February 2010

SWIFT, SWIFTER, SWIFTEST

Last week the European Parliament Civil Liberties Committee voted against the provisional agreement with the US for the handover of bank data in the framework of the fight against terrorism. Next week in Strasbourg the definitive vote will probably take place, and it is not out of the question that at the last moment agreement will be reached with the Spanish Presidency.

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31 January 2010

Dutch trade unions go Europe!

Last Friday, 29th January, I attended a meeting with the main Dutch trade union federation, the FNV, on the subject of its efforts as regards Brussels. In the past I found it striking that the voice of the trade unions was insufficiently heard within the EU institutions. For every labour movement lobbyist there were ninety-nine from industry. The FNV recognises this and wants, furthermore, to do something about it, but there remains a huge information lag and a lack of means to address the problem.

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17 January 2010

Will these takeovers never end?

It hasn't attracted much attention, but we find ourselves in the midst of a new wave of takeovers. The buying frenzy has broken out once again. What this means is corporations becoming even bigger, as well as more space for profitmaking on the basis of speculation. Managers and shareholders will be able once more to make pots of money by dealing in companies, rather than having any real involvement in them. And the European Commission merely sits back and watches.

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10 January 2010

Strike in Brussels

The week to come will see a strike at the EU institutions in Brussels. Officials are calling for a 3.7% pay increase instead of the 1.8% agreed by the member states in December. According to the rules they should indeed have had 3.7%, so formally they are in the right, but you have to ask yourself where their feeling of solidarity has got to, solidarity with all those people who have been badly affected by the crisis.

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3 January 2010

Confirmation Hearings for EU Commissioners soon under way

In a week's time the European Parliament gathers for its first meetings of the year. All eyes will be on the hearings for the proposed new Commissioners, who must yet be approved by the Parliament. Once again the dog will have his day, but the new Commission is unlikely to be given a hard time. The right-wing Parliament will without doubt give its support to this right-wing Commission.

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