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14 June 2018

The Toilet Duck and the European Commission

The president of the European Parliament, the useless Italian Berlusconi fan Antonio Tajani, was beside himself with joy. The latest figures from the European opinion pollster Eurobarometer showed that the European Union had never been so popular. For the Dutch people, this type of self-recommendation brings to mind the Toilet Duck, as I shall explain.

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10 June 2018

How can we tackle the computer giants ourselves?

Foto: FHKE
A few months back I received, not for the first time, an email from someone who complained about the fact that, having bought an Apple product such as an I-pad, you are then obliged to buy all of your apps from the App Store. The same goes for hardware, because Apple has its own data sticks and makes no use of standard models such as USB. The European Commission stresses its alleged belief in open competition, but in reality protects Apple in this case from the market. Competition Commissioner Margrethe Verstager refused, however, to give a direct commitment in answer to my written questions on this matter, because she had yet to receive a formal complaint. Perhaps we could help her out by lodging one.
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3 June 2018

The procession of the multinationals' servants

We get them all in Strasbourg, the leaders of the member states' governments, determined to give us their vision of Europe's future. French president Emmanuel Macron was there in April, Luxembourg's prime minister  Xavier Bettel last week, and in a week-and-a-half it will be Dutch premier Mark  Rutte's turn. Macron's and Bettel's speeches were full of fine words about European values, but the latter inadvertently showed his true face when he insisted that taxes for multinationals should be, as far as he's concerned, kept down. Just as Macron abolished the tax on big capital (of a value exceeding €1.3 billion), on the grounds that he wants to encourage young people to themselves become billionaires (!), and just as Rutte is looking to get rid of the tax on dividends, Bettel did not enjoy my challenging his similar proposals and views during the debate which followed his speech. But they're all the same - Macron, Bettel and Rutte – the future of Europe doesn't interest them in the least. Their procession through Strasbourg is nothing but a parade of multinationals' servants.
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27 May 2018

Truck and bus drivers advance on Strasbourg

It's going to happen at last: on Tuesday, 29th May, hundreds of lorry drivers and bus drivers will demonstrate outside the European Parliament in Strasbourg. The action is timely, because the European Commission's proposals in its 'mobility package' are bad news for these drivers' rights, while the Euro-MPs who must approve them have not found the courage to stand firm in opposition. Without protest there is a strong probability that the proposals will be adopted.

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20 May 2018

It's the Euro, Stupido

First and foremost, I'm no fan of the Italian Lega, one of the coalition partners in the budding government of that country and a party which is certainly on the right. The other coalition partner, the Five Star Movement, is rather unpredictable, but I do often find that I can cooperate well enough with them in the European Parliament. One thing I can understand about this new Italian coalition is that both parties want to cast off the European yoke, especially when it come to 'European economic governance'. And that's why I'm fed up of reading stuff in the mainstream media that expresses the hope that this anti-EU government will fall as quickly as possible. I'd say the media would be better off looking at what's wrong with the euro than going along with the European establishment.

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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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29 April 2018

Who is the most unsavoury lobbyist in Brussels?

Foto: Corporate Europe Observatory
Recent weeks have seen a great deal of attention paid to the rather shady appointment (in indecent haste) of Jean-Claude Juncker’s chum Martin Selmayr as the new Secretary General of the European Commission. Partly as a result of this, a new report from lobbying watchdog Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) on the close links between the Commission and the bankers has received far too little attention, despite its being just as shocking. The European Parliament Intergroup on Integrity, Transparency, Corruption and Organised Crime (ITCO), a cross-party body of which I am co-chair, will shortly be presenting a prize to the most unsavoury lobbyist, who will be nominated by the citizens of the EU's member states.

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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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