h

Blog Dennis de Jong

11 December 2016

The danger of a ‘Grand Coalition’ in the European Parliament

Political groups are free to work with each other, but in the European Parliament the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) and the centre-left Party of Socialists and Democrats (PSD), together with the centre-right Alliance of liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) have formed a ‘Grand Coalition’ which is starting to present a downright danger. It’s stampeding in the direction of a federal Europe, and the general public who want just the opposite – ‘less Brussels’ – are pushed aside as people who just don’t get it. Systematically the influence of smaller, critical political groups is being eroded. This is a way of doing things which is scarcely democratic, and which is unworthy of a parliament.

Read more
4 December 2016

Neoliberal spin versus clear language of the Modern Left

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte put in an appearance this week at the ALDE (centre-right liberals) European Parliament group conference held on this occasion in Warsaw. There, he warned that Europe could fall apart if the politicians didn’t listen to what the public were clearly saying: not still more Brussels, please. It’s just a pity that the government he heads wants precisely the opposite: more economic diktats from Brussels, a European Public Prosecutor, a European security force and even intensive European defence cooperation. But things didn’t work out so well for Rutte. The conference which the SP held yesterday with a number of sister parties in Maastricht was where you wanted to be to hear clear language. After twenty-five years of neoliberal deception it’s time for a new EU treaty which puts the national parliaments back in the driver’s seat. While the neoliberals twist and turn, the modern left is clear: No to this EU; build a new form of European cooperation.

Read more
27 November 2016

Verhofstadt is building his federal Europe on the backs of the British

The gulf could not be any bigger. Ever more citizens of its member states want nothing more to do with the European Union. Meanwhile, the Belgian chair of the Liberal group – known as the ALDE – Guy Verhofstadt, has proposed that United Kingdom citizens who wish to do so should, in the wake of Brexit, be allowed to pay to take out EU citizenship. This is a conscious step on  Verhofstadt’s part towards a United States of Europe, as up to now ‘EU citizenship’ has come along with the nationality of one of its member states. Verhofstadt is blind and deaf to public concerns, yet he is being recommended by the outgoing chair of the European Parliament, German social democrat Martin Schulz, to be the EP’s representative in the Brexit negotiations.

Read more
20 November 2016

Still a long way to go for social justice in the EU

Each year the Bertelsmann Foundation, a German thinktank linked to the media giant of the same name, publishes its index of social justice. As in previous years, the latest edition shows that this form of justice remains a distant prospect. In most member states things are still worse than they were before the financial crisis. Little attention is being paid to inequality in society, and poverty is on the rise rather than falling. This isn’t an encouraging picture, and represents a slap in the face for all those budget fetishists like our own Prime Minister Mark Rutte. Not only Bertelsmann, but also the European Commission itself has now come to the conclusion that state investment wouldn’t be such a crazy idea. It’s indeed sad that we can talk of seven lost years in which all member states alike imposed spending cuts and in so doing held back economic recovery. If only people had listened to the SP and in particular the party’s leader Emile Roemer when he stood up against the 3% norm laid down by Brussels.

Read more
13 November 2016

Humanity in short supply in European hotspots

The Dutch government is proud of Europe’s asylum policy. The number of asylum-seekers in the Netherlands has fallen substantially and the uncontrolled march across Europe is at an end. That’s all undoubtedly true, but in my view an asylum policy can only be described as a success if it doesn’t violate human rights and offers refugees effective protection. The situation in the ‘hotspots’ in Italy and Greece is appalling, however. Everyone seems to be averting their eyes. That’s unacceptable.

Read more
6 November 2016

Travel ban for Euro-MPs?

The news agency Politico this week launched a frontal attack on the wastefulness of Euro-MPs who consider that they must travel throughout the world in luxury in order to develop and maintain contacts. This year I’m Rapporteur for the European Parliament’s financial accountability, reason enough to dive deeper into this matter. And sure enough there’s a lot of weeding to be done in this particular garden. Not every journey to a country beyond the European Union is useless, but accountability could be improved. We have no need for champagne diplomacy.

Read more
30 October 2016

In the US as in the EU, the multinationals are the real election winners

All the fuss surrounding the American elections notwithstanding, Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump offers no real choice. Either will in the end be there to defend the interests of the multinationals. Had Bernie Sanders been a candidate, there would have been something to choose from. You see the same in the European Parliament: even if the centre-left Socialists and Democrats and the centre-right European People’s Party are often at each other’s throats, the two biggest political groups always in the end vote for laws that benefit only the multinationals. An example of this was provided by the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Canada.

Read more
23 October 2016

Five advisors from the European Commission given power over national budgets

This week the European Commission announced that they had selected ‘in a fully transparent manner’ five members of the new advisory council on national budgetary policy, the so-called ‘European Fiscal Board’. The European Parliament was not involved in the selection. And so once again we see a new organ, far away from the European public, which will soon be able to issue important advice on the running of national budgets. The Commission will hide behind the advice notes when it comes to making its ‘recommendations’ to the member states. This has really nothing to do with democracy and transparency. It’s a pity that both the Dutch national Parliament and the EP have just sat back and let this happen.

Read more
16 October 2016

Why does Timmermans not report corruption at the EU?

Last Friday the European Parliament Transparency Intergroup, a cross-party network of MEPs, sent an angry letter to Commissioner Frans Timmermans. This year the Commission once again published a report on the member states’ anti-corruption policies, but it will include no chapter on the fight against corruption within the European Union’s own institutions. After the real mess surrounding the European Commissioners’ moonlighting, you’d expect the Commission to make this a spearhead of its approach. Timmermans refuses to do so, however, without coming up with any clear arguments against. We are in no way satisfied with this. If necessary we will demand a plenary debate on the matter, because if the Commission knows so much about how the member states should combat corruption, it should be easy enough for it to hold a mirror up to itself.

Read more
9 October 2016

Bayer and Monsanto – no happy marriage

Shortly in the European Parliament we’ll be discussing once more the annual report on EU competition policy. You’d be amazed by what’s possible. European Commissioner Margrethe Vestager recently answered my letter on Bayer’s takeover of Monsanto by saying she had received as yet no report of this, but she would certainly be looking into it. In my view the takeover should, however, have set alarm bells ringing, not only because of Monsanto’s questionable reputation, but principally because it raises the question as to when enough is enough, and when corporations become ‘too big to fail’. We have absolutely no need for such a chemical industry giant. If a takeover of this kind van happen under the existing policy, then in my view that policy should be changed.

Read more

Pages

You are here