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Blog Dennis de Jong

13 May 2018

Europe Day a dead letter

On 9th May we marked Europe Day. In Brussels and elsewhere, all of the European Union institutions were closed. It was a day off. It's actually an extremely symbolic day, something dreamed up at the highest level, but because the citizens of the member states have never been asked their views, it remains a dead letter. It's one of the many attempts to create a 'European feeling' that simply doesn't exist. This wouldn't be so bad in itself, if there wasn't a hidden agenda: the European feeling must also make it clear why we are a single market. Why all shops in the EU must eventually look alike. Why it's being made increasingly difficult for member states to conduct their own social-economic policies. Europe Day is less innocent than it appears.

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6 May 2018

Juncker is dangerously active over the Western Balkans

It is characteristic of Juncker’s Commission that not only do the European Commissioners clearly want to grab more and more powers from the member states, but that they want to acquire in addition ever more such member states. This week the Council of Europe (an entirely separate, non-EU body comprising 47 countries) published the annual report from its anti-corruption network GRECO. This presents a very different picture from that to be found in the Commission’s mid-April progress reports on individual applicant states. Countries such as Albania and FYROM(Macedonia) have, according to GRECO, made little progress in fighting corruption, despite the European Commission claiming that in that respect things are going well. The strategic interest of the Western Balkans evidently counts for more with Juncker than does telling the truth about the situations in these countries.

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22 April 2018

Once again, EU attacks our pensions

For years now we've had to contend with Brussels' attacks on our pension system. The European Commission understands well enough that there is a general payment known as the AOW, but finds it nonsensical that there is also a compulsory supplementary occupational pension, in which employers also have to pay. In their view people should first and foremost take care of their own pensions as individuals. This wouldn't only be handy for the employers, but also mush better for insurance companies who would make handsome profits from it. The latest assault is known as the Pan-European Pension Product and consists of just such an individual insurance. Great news for the market fundamentalists, but in my view this proposed law will come to nothing.

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8 April 2018

Nepotism doesn’t stop at the Hungarian border

The European Commission, and in particular the Dutch Commissioner responsible for such matters, Frans Timmermans, are showing a great deal of concern over the decline of the rule of law in Hungary and Poland, including the lack of an independent judiciary, the extent of corruption and nepotism, and encroachment on journalists’ freedom. All important matters, but the EU’s own institutions, as well as the member states themselves, can also be found lacking in these areas. Below I give a number of examples.

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25 March 2018

The arrogance of power

This Tuesday, 27th March, my entire day at the European Parliament will be taken up by discussions of scandals. In the morning, it's the Hungarian government's fraud; in the afternoon, the Commission's policy on integrity, specifically the appointment of Martin Selmayr as Commission Secretary-General. Of course there is a difference between the corrupt behaviour of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, suspected of corruption and of the evasion of EU public procurement rules, and that of Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker. Both are doing a fine job for their chums, because although he may have followed all the regulations, it's still astonishing that last week Juncker threatened to resign if his European People's Party (EPP, a centre-right group and the biggest in the EP) colleagues failed to support Selmayr's appointment. I would say that both Juncker and Orban are suffering from the arrogance of power.

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18 March 2018

Reject the Services E-card

On 21st March we will concentrating first and foremost on our local elections, because while we may be the European Parliament group, we'll all be off to vote for our SP candidates and to celebrate their success in our own branches. Before I can do that, however, there's a vote in the European Parliament and the situation remains tense. In the Internal Market Committee the likely vote on the Services E-card, with which the Commission proposes to promote the free movement of services across borders, is evenly balanced. But the proposal is absurd, as evidenced by the fact that not only the unions, but also a large proportion of employers are opposed. The card will make things easier for abusive firms and self-employed people who lack proper qualifications to establish themselves throughout the EU. Hopefully common sense will prevail and the proposal will go straight into the recycling bin.

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11 March 2018

“Democrats 66” in European Parliament no friends of local democracy

On March 6th I took part in a debate in Brussels with fellow Dutch MEPs on the approaching local elections. That it would be the EU which took centre stage in this debate, rather than local authorities was something I had anticipated. But that when they voted to approve far-reaching proposals, the MEPs from other parties had no idea what they were voting for, borders on the unbelievable.

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4 March 2018

May isn't laughable – she's a dangerous market fundamentalist

Inside the Brussels bubble, British Prime minister Theresa May is generally ridiculed. That's why I seldom put much faith in Brussels' analyses. That goes also for the speech which May gave on 2nd March on the new 'economic partnership' that she wants to forge with the EU. This wasn't a ridiculous speech at all, if you read through it, but a demonstration of how market fundamentalists like the Tories always in the end favour the market over the interests of working people. However much she claims the opposite, she always backs the 10%, while the 90% can go hang. This can be seen particularly in her plans for virtually free movement of services. As a result, British workers will be faced with unfair competition on the labour market.

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25 February 2018

SP in Drenthe is fighting for local autonomy – against Brussels, too

Foto: Wim Moinat
It was an inspiring afternoon last Friday in Emmen in the north-eastern province of Drenthe where, with local SP members, we went through the new rules which are in preparation on submitting municipal and provincial regulations to Brussels. People in Drenthe ('Drentens') are attached to the idea of local autonomy, but the European Commission is concerned to monitor everything which might interfere with the free movement of services in the single market. This is far-reaching and would affect everything from zoning plans to kindergartens to the design of shopping streets. As one of the participants said, “in that case we might as well wind up the town council.” So it's time for action, something for which the SP in Drenthe is well-equipped.
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18 February 2018

Which government leader will dare to tackle the EU agencies?

Tomorrow afternoon in the European Parliament we will be discussing the functioning of the European Agencies, which number around forty. It would be a fine thing were the heads of government to include such a discussion in their negotiations on the multi-annual budget which will determine how much the European Union can spend from 2021. The biggest savings could be made by putting an end to the pumping of money back and forth between the member states and Brussels. Savings could also be achieved by merging or closing down a number of agencies. I'm curious to find out which of the government leaders will show real leadership and instigate such a debate.

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