16 August 2010


SP activist protest against the EU's waste of money

SP activists protest against the EU's waste of money

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25 July 2010

The trade union movement and public property

It's peaceful at the European Parliament at the moment, as there's almost nobody here. The SP group also takes a break, and for the next three weeks our offices will be empty, just like all the other offices. So this is an excellent opportunity to read all of those reports which as a Euro-MP one receives daily. Amongst these is an outstanding report from the European trade union movement on public services.

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18 July 2010

Human rights policy and the European Parliament

This week I welcomed a delegation from the Ahmadis. The Ahmadis regard themselves as Muslims, but follow their own interpretation of Islam. For this, reason in many Muslim countries, in particular Pakistan, they are discriminated against and persecuted. I always find such meetings impressive, but at the same time must explain that in relation to foreign policy the Dutch national parliament has much more power than does the European Parliament. Certainly, in the EP a large number of resolutions are adopted, but their value is purely symbolic.

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11 July 2010

European Ombudsman an ally in battle for greater transparency

Several weeks ago I had a lengthy discussion with the European Ombudsman during which we agreed to work together to make Brussels more transparent. The Ombudsman shares my concerns regarding the influence of major corporations on the European institutions' decisions. He expressed great interest in the action plan that I launched last year, a plan directed at both the Commission and at the European Parliament itself.

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22 June 2010

European Council puts member states into straight-jacket of austerity

On 17th June the leaders of Europe's governments adopted, as expected, a number of conclusions in relation to the economic crisis. It is disappointing to see the European Council laying such a one-sided emphasis on austerity. The thumbscrews are being turned, the sanctions on failure to make cuts increased. But any attention to rewarding work or effective measures against poverty is missing, while not a single word was said about the need for good public services.

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13 June 2010

Spending cuts in Brussels, and international solidarity

The last few weeks have of course been emotional and tumultuous, as a result of Kartika Liotard's sudden decision to resign from the SP. Nevertheless, day-to-day work continues. Last Friday I received the good news that the United Left, the European Parliamentary political group to which the SP belongs, has decided to nominate me as a substitute member of the newly established temporary committee to prepare the ground for negotiations over the EU's multi-annual budget.

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2 June 2010

Europe's border patrol - FRONTEX

Tomorrow in the European Parliament Civil Liberties Committee we will be voting on the accession of Switzerland and Lichtenstein to FRONTEX, the European cooperation organisation for control of borders and the return of people who have been refused asylum, and of illegal immigrants. The SP stands for human dignity and FRONTEX is primarily a cold-hearted operation designed to expel people and keep them out.

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23 May 2010

European Parliament free with our money

This week focused for the most part, of course, on the unstable euro. Just like their colleagues in the Netherlands, Europe's market-minded liberals and right-wing Christian Democrats hammered away at the message that the only way that the euro can be saved is via drastic spending cuts in the member states. Against such a background it's a sad business to contemplate that when it comes to the European Parliament's own spending, Members are happy to carry on chucking money around: you have to look after your mates, after all.

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9 May 2010

EURO Solidarity

The Eurozone is coming apart at the seams. Government leaders declare their solidarity with Greece, at the same time paying up once again for the risks banks took, with all the instability this brings. And the bill ? You’ll be getting that this autumn with the new government’s budget review – because it won’t be the banks but ordinary people who will once again be stuck with the costs.

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11 April 2010

What about the European Single Market?

As members of the SP we don't exactly get a warm feeling when we hear the word 'market', and definitely not when we hear 'European internal market'. This has always been a neoliberal project, under which social and environmental interests are subordinated to the principle of unbridled competition. The economic crisis was a direct consequence of this exaggerated confidence in 'the market'. Still, in the European Parliament the tide now appears to be turning.

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