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12 December 2010

Ice-cold asylum policy

I am the member responsible within our political group in the European Parliament for negotiations regarding the Dublin Regulation, the system that regulates which member state is responsible for dealing with a particular request for asylum. The member states have recently agreed their position, one which rejected every amendment from the Parliament designed to make the system somewhat more humane. This is, however, not the final word on the matter, because Parliament and Council (which directly represents the member states), must eventually come to a compromise agreement. But it’s certainly an ominous sign. It fits very well with the current Dutch government’s policy. Asylum seekers are continually being put behind bars, despite the fact that this is in conflict with European rules, while illegally extending your stay has been made a punishable offence. An icy climate, and not only in the winter…

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7 December 2010

A week on the criminal law

The coming week will be taken up by three conferences, all of them concerning the criminal law. On Tuesday I’m speaking at a conference on the implications of the Lisbon Treaty for criminal law. We in the SP are always on our guard when it comes to European interference in this aspect of law, and in a surreptitious fashion we are seeing more and more European regulation in this area. I will be arguing for a clear vision, in which the Netherlands remains in complete control of at least 90% of the criminal law. On Wednesday I’m participating in a conference on drugs policy and I will yet again explain that a repressive approach has demonstrably no effect, while the Dutch policy of tolerance has had a great deal more success. Finally, on Thursday, during a conference on the fight against corruption, I intend to take a strong line against the lack of action on the part of the European Commission.

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28 November 2010

Nazi slogans in the European Parliament

Last week we were once again in Strasbourg. In any event this is hardly a pleasure, involving as it does an enormous waste of time and money, but on this occasion it was an embarrassing business. A MEP from the UK Independence Party (UKIP) found it necessary to launch a barrage of quotations from Hitler at the German leader of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, the European Parliament’s centre-left political group. What was remarkable was that our own far right party, the PVV, through its MEP Barry Madlener, found it necessary to speak out in the UKIP man’s defence.

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14 November 2010

Bangkok

Last week I devoted several days to the International Anti-Corruption Conference organised by Transparency International (TI) in Bangkok. My most important message was for the European Commission – will you at last take action against growing corruption in Europe?

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7 November 2010

Brussels and our pensions

I have been given the task by the European Parliament of writing an official 'Opinion' on a report from the European Commission which concerns our pensions. Tomorrow, the first 'exchange of views' on the issue takes place in the EP Internal Market Committee, and I will be taking a clear position against the Commission's attempts to hand our pensions over to the market, and in favour not of a new playground for insurance companies, but a solid system based on solidarity between young and old. And against, moreover, an infringement of the power to regulate these matters at the national level.

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24 October 2010

ECJ shows more interest in social rights

Until recently the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has been primarily known for a range of decisions via which workers' rights were subordinated to the principle of unrestrained competition. Just this week, however, the Court surprised friend and foe with a ruling which determined that people working in catering at Heineken, who had seen their employment contracts transferred to a different firm, Albron, would not be obliged to accept a lowering of their wages or a worsening of their conditions of employment. Companies attempting to use this kind of outsourcing as a form of social dumping have been told to think again: the Court does not find it acceptable. One swallow doesn't make a summer, but in another recent decision the ECJ showed itself to be more responsive to arguments from the social good than it has been in the past. Could the social rights somewhat reluctantly included in the Lisbon Treaty at last be getting their teeth?

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16 October 2010

Is North Netherlands ready to store nuclear waste?

On 7th October Greenpeace drove a few containers full of radioactive material up to the doors of the European Parliament. By doing so the organisation was seeking to draw attention to new European Commission proposals on the storage of radioactive waste. By excluding a large number of types of waste from its proposals, the Commission is attempting to facilitate nuclear waste storage and thereby to encourage the use of nuclear energy. I will of course be keeping a close eye on these developments and exposing them, if they are indeed as negligent as Greenpeace asserts.

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3 October 2010

You can't change European legislation just like that

Following the conference of the Christian Democrats (CDA) it does indeed appear that there will be a government of the two centre-right parties, VVD and CDA, tolerated by the far right PVV. The agreement which enabled this toleration states that the new government will ensure that all European laws on immigration and asylum are made more restrictive. In my view this is a promise which cannot be kept, at least not within the government's maximum term of four years. In any case, these European laws are not nearly so lenient as these parties would have us believe.

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26 September 2010

European solidarity

September 29th will see a major demonstration by trade unions in both The Hague and Brussels. European trade unions are holding the demonstration in Brussels to protest against the one-sided policies with which the European Union and the various member states are attempting to resolve the economic crisis via swingeing cuts which go to the heart of public services and social provision. The European Commission is blind to the protests. On the very same day they will present their proposals for the introduction of sanctions against countries whose cuts don't go deep enough, while again on September 29th the European Parliament Crisis Committee will adopt an injurious report in which spending cuts also take centre stage. The gap between the street and Europe's ivory towers could hardly be wider.

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20 September 2010

Crisis Committee in Crisis

Dennis de Jong, Socialist PartyWhile the conclusions of the Dutch Parliamentary Commission on the financial crisis, chaired by SP member Jan de Wit, can count on broad cross-party support, the European Parliament’s equivalent body is heading for a confrontation, with the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) and the centre-left Socialists and Democrats (PSD) attempting to block input from other groups. Prospects are that no common report will be possible in which the causes of the crisis are properly analysed and policy recommendations made as to how a further crisis might be prevented. This represents a missed opportunity.

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