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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4 April 2010

Economising - How about Brussels?

During the SP's regional conference on 3rd April in Rotterdam, there was a great deal of discussion around the question of how vital it is for the party to develop a thorough financial policy. In my view this is certainly of enormous importance, even if only to be taken seriously in national politics, or if only to demonstrate that we would make the rich pay for the crisis. And that is precisely what the provisional election programme does: €10 billion earmarked for social reconstruction, despite which our total budget makes savings of €10 billion.

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28 March 2010

Europa 2020: Silently, the leaders of EU governments are taking decisions...

The heads of Europe's governments last week reached an agreement over most of the principal goals of socio-economic policy for the coming ten years. Our own country having seen its government fall a few weeks ago, former and now acting prime minister Jan-Peter Balkenende was in Brussels to continue his rule beyond the political grave.

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22 March 2010

Could we keep our water, please?

This week I paid a visit to a gathering of a large number of drinking water supply companies and district water boards, united in the Union of Water Companies in the Netherlands, known by the Dutch acronym VEWIN. The meeting reminded me forcefully that if it were up to the SP we would not do the same with drinking water, the management and delivery of which remains in public ownership, as was done with our electricity supply: no sell off of our water! Everyone at the meeting was in enthusiastic agreement, so now we can only hope that the European Commission sees things the same way.

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14 March 2010

One more time – off to Strasbourg and back again

This week my fellow MEP, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert of the right-wing liberal VVD, suddenly took the initiative to send a letter to the new permanent president of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, asking him to put an end to the monthly circus that is the European Parliament's trek to Strasbourg. Great that there is at last some attention being paid to this issue, but the initiative itself, far from being a bold move, reeks of symbolic politics.

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7 March 2010

Save the postal worker!

Last week I was co-organiser of three meetings at the European Parliament. The themes were extremely diverse: freedom of religion and ideology, the division of responsibility for asylum seekers amongst the EU member states, and the liberalisation of the postal market. A busy week, and at a time when the local elections and Agnes Kant's resignation as SP leader and replacement by Emile Roemer of course took all the attention. But in each of these meetings there were many other people involved, so despite the inconvenient timing we couldn't really cancel any of them.

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28 February 2010

Local council elections and Europe

If, after a good election result in the local elections on 3rd March, we find ourselves in the ruling coalitions in a number of councils, but also if we are working from a position of opposition, seeking and maintaining contact with the SP's group in the European Parliament can be useful: many subjects are now determined by European rules and we can sometimes help people to deal with these rules or, where necessary, to change them. We hope then to have even more contacts with SP branches in the years to come than has already been the case.

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21 February 2010

Europe and the building industry

There is a great deal wrong in the building industry: officially, everyone agrees that there should be equal pay for equal work, but in practice things aren't quite like that. Many people work illegally in the building trade and surveillance is inadequate. Often, it's international networks who provide these illegal workers. There is also the problem of people who, while formally self-employed, work in practice for only one employer and under working conditions much less favourable than those of actual employees.

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14 February 2010

Cooperating with other parties in the EP

In order to achieve anything in the European Parliament, you have to cooperate with other parties. That holds true even for the biggest group, the Christian Democrats of the European People’s Party, who this week suffered a number of setbacks as a result of finding insufficient support from other groups, The SP Eurogroup tries always to behave constructively in order to record as many concrete results as possible.

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7 February 2010


Last week the European Parliament Civil Liberties Committee voted against the provisional agreement with the US for the handover of bank data in the framework of the fight against terrorism. Next week in Strasbourg the definitive vote will probably take place, and it is not out of the question that at the last moment agreement will be reached with the Spanish Presidency.

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