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Blog Dennis de Jong

2 April 2017

Commissioner Bulc’s crocodile tears

Following her appointment in 2014, Slovenian Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc gave the impression that she would be dealing with the issue of exploitation of lorry drivers. The European transport unions have learnt instead that she is a harsh neoliberal who has no intention of addressing exploitation, but on the contrary, wants to see even fiercer competition between drivers. They are planning to react with action: in two months Bulc’s plans will no longer be provisional; definite proposals will be issued.

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26 March 2017

More inspiration from Amersfoort than from Rome

It was a fortuitous coincidence: the ceremony in Rome on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the foundation of the EEC, and the SP party council in Amersfoort, occurred on the same weekend. I was really happy that I had not gone to Rome but was instead at the party council where we looked at last week's general election. I was pleased not only because of the constructive discussions and Emile Roemer's inspiring speech, but also because the media always give a misleading account of what occurs at SP meetings. The party council was and is harmonious and optimistic about the future, but I've not been able to read that anywhere.

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19 March 2017

Which EU are the heads of government going to pledge themselves to on March 25th?

On 25th March the heads of the governments of the European Union’s member states will assemble in Rome to mark the sixtieth anniversary of the EU’s founding treaty, the treaty to which that city gave its name. The European Commission, together with the Maltese EU presidency, would like to take this opportunity to issue a solemn declaration in order to give the EU a fresh lift. One thing is indeed clear, and that is that the EU will be playing an even greater role in internal security and in defence policy. At the same time the meat will still consist of market-oriented economic policies, with at best a thin social gravy poured over it. So this Declaration will certainly not be any cause for celebration for ordinary people in Europe.

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13 March 2017

SP group to invite EU’s victims to party in European Parliament

March 21st will be a day of celebrations at the European Parliament in Brussels. The festivities, which include meetings in the hall used for plenary meetings, will last the whole day and are being held to mark the 70th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome. Every Euro-MP has been given the right to invite five members of the public to a real ‘citizen’s parliament’ to be held that afternoon. Anne-Marie Mineur and I are therefore delighted to be able to bring ten people, all expenses paid, to Brussels for the day, the idea being that each will make it clear why he or she feels that they are a victim of the EU. It’s time the EU got some of this thrown back at it.

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19 February 2017

For some MEPs, their pockets are never well enough lined

This week the public broadcaster NOS has been giving a great deal of attention to the fact that there is a significant shortfall in the voluntary pension provision for people who were Euro-MPs in the period prior to 2009. I have received a number of reactions from people angry that these gilt-edged pensions should be being paid at all. I completely agree with these people, certainly when you consider that pension payments in the Netherlands have been frozen for years. In my report on the European Parliament’s accounts I am demanding therefore that a plan be developed, and quickly, which will allow the ex-MEPs themselves to make up the shortfall. Enough is enough.

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12 February 2017

Dijsselbloem the Terrible

In the Labour Party campaign for the forthcoming Dutch general election, Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem is showing his social face. Yet in reality he has spent the last few years, as chair of the eurogroup, forcing the Greeks down into absolute poverty. Even the International Monetary Fund is internally divided: the people cannot endure such poverty, so great a collapse of public services, and so high a rate of unemployment. But Dijsselbloem continues to make demands: further reductions in pensions, and yet more interference in the labour market, so that the few jobs which exist no longer pay enough for a person to live. In the 16th Century Ivan the Terrible was the Russian ruler. Amongst other things he so restricted the peasants' freedom of movement that they became serfs. Dijsselbloem is doing the same to the Greeks. In contravention of internationally recognised social rights, he is subjugating the Greek people. Dijsselbloem the Terrible…

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5 February 2017

Let’s put a stop to the Brussels-Strasbourg merry-go-round, Minister Koenders

Foreign Minister Bert Koenders appears frequently in the media criticising the European Parliament. That’s fine with me, because there is of course a great deal to criticise about all the waste and the conflicts of interest which surround the EP. But he went too far when he attacked the Parliament over the fact that once a month we move lock, stock and barrel to Strasbourg. The fact is that by far the majority of MEPs find this monthly trip irritating in the extreme. There is, however, nothing we can do to change it, as that is in the hands of the member state governments. That was why in 2015, in the runup to the Dutch EU presidency, I contacted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to propose that they suggest an alternative to the EP for the city of Strasbourg, to make up for its lost revenue. I’m still waiting to hear back, but on Thursday the Dutch Parliament in The Hague will host the State of the Union debate, to which MEPs are also invited. I fancy a nice confrontation with the minister. Who knows, we might at last be able to do business.

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29 January 2017

Points of agreement between Timmermans and Trump

This weekend has a great deal of justified criticism aimed at the policies of brand new US President Donald Trump, in particular his closure of the country’s borders to travellers from a number of Islamic countries. European Commission Vice President (and former Dutch Foreign Minister) Frans Timmermans is amongst those who have already protested. Yet this same Timmermans has co-authored the plan, that appeared this week, aimed at putting a stop to immigration from North Africa. Following the Turkey deal, Timmermans now wants to see a Libya deal. Of course the Commission’s choice of wording is less unpleasant than that of Trump, but the message and its effects will be similar: refugees, find salvation - but elsewhere. It already seems a long time ago that politicians dared assert that people who are persecuted are in need of protection.

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22 January 2017

Dutch centre-right parties sign pact for European superstate

In the runup to the coming elections for the national parliament, the two centre-right parties, the governing VVD and the opposition CDA, are loudly declaring that they are against a European superstate. That’s what makes it remarkable that so little attention has been paid to the pact concluded by their political groups in the European Parliament, respectively the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), and the European People’s Party (EPP). The pact states that they will work towards amendment of the EU Treaty on the basis of the Verhofstadt Report, which advocates the creation of a European Finance Minister, European taxes, and the extension of the EU’s powers to areas of legislation currently under national control, such as pensions, public services and taxation. What my fellow MEPs Wim van de Camp (CDA) and Hank van Baalen (VVD) are calling for is simply a European government. Think on that when you’re in the polling booth on March 15th.

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8 January 2017

The week of dishonest men

In a single week in Brussels three dishonest men have been in the news and the only question now is whether they will leave the stage or grow even more powerful. The president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, turns out to be even more intensely involved in tax dodging by multinationals than recently seemed to be the case. Austrian Commissioner Günther Oettinger, who was caught not long ago making sexist remarks and has been involved in a case of conflict of interest, is now apparently being envisaged as the new Commission Vice-President. And to make matters worse the big corporations’ champion, Guy Verhofstadt, has declared his candidacy for president of the European Parliament. With friends like these, the EU has no need of enemies.

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