Blog Dennis de Jong

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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4 April 2010

Economising - How about Brussels?

During the SP's regional conference on 3rd April in Rotterdam, there was a great deal of discussion around the question of how vital it is for the party to develop a thorough financial policy. In my view this is certainly of enormous importance, even if only to be taken seriously in national politics, or if only to demonstrate that we would make the rich pay for the crisis. And that is precisely what the provisional election programme does: €10 billion earmarked for social reconstruction, despite which our total budget makes savings of €10 billion. The way I see it this a unique performance. Brussels could and must give a helping hand here – the EU offers a great deal of scope for savings!

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28 March 2010

Europa 2020: Silently, the leaders of EU governments are taking decisions...

The heads of Europe's governments last week reached an agreement over most of the principal goals of socio-economic policy for the coming ten years. Our own country having seen its government fall a few weeks ago, former and now acting prime minister Jan-Peter Balkenende was in Brussels to continue his rule beyond the political grave. Future governments should be prepared, in the meantime, to have their policies examined by Brussels and, if they don't fulfil the agreements which Balkenende has made, to receive a 'recommendation' (on the seat of their pants) and possible even actual sanctions. It is scarcely to be believed that such important decisions can be taken without any kind of broad public debate beforehand, in Parliament, in the street and in the media.

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22 March 2010

Could we keep our water, please?

This week I paid a visit to a gathering of a large number of drinking water supply companies and district water boards, united in the Union of Water Companies in the Netherlands, known by the Dutch acronym VEWIN. The meeting reminded me forcefully that if it were up to the SP we would not do the same with drinking water, the management and delivery of which remains in public ownership, as was done with our electricity supply: no sell off of our water! Everyone at the meeting was in enthusiastic agreement, so now we can only hope that the European Commission sees things the same way.

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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. The meeting with postal workers from all over Europe led in particular to important follow-up actions and although our thoughts were often in The Hague and the Netherlands, I'm glad we went through with it.

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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. Surveillance must be improved, primarily on the national level, but I agree with the European building workers' federations when they say that the European Union also has a role to play in this.

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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. At the same time it is self-evident that such opportunistic parliamentary coalitions must never be at the cost of what separates the SP from other parties, the fact that we constantly seek direct contact with ordinary people and the organisations which represent their interests. Real successes can only be recorded if you link your work in the parliament with what you do outside.

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