28 December 2009

What will Brussels do to our social rights in 2010?

On 7th January we return to work in Brussels, but this does not of course mean that in the meantime, though free of meetings, there's nothing at all to do. This afternoon I'm here in Rotterdam at the commemoration of the victims of the Gaza war, which happened just a year ago. In addition there's a backlog of correspondence to be dealt with, and much to read on what will be the important issues in 2010. And in relation to social affairs we expect a great deal, though it isn't yet clear whether this will take the form of a further deterioration of social rights, or if it remains possible that after all something good for the rights of working people and the unemployed might come out of Brussels. A great deal will depend on the question of whether we will be sharp enough to take action when it is necessary to do so.

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22 December 2009

'No trips to Strasbourg without good reason'

Since first represented in the European Parliament, the SP has participated in a regular meeting of Dutch Euro-MPs of all parties, the so-called ‘Oranjeberaad’, the ‘Orange Consultation’ (orange being the national colour). Each party has of course its own views, but in addition we are all Dutch and there are some national interests which we can, in my opinion, best defend together.

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18 December 2009

Strasbourg, or Stress-burg, as it’s known to insiders – Whatever you call it, it’s a circus

Last week we were in Brussels, welcoming visitors from animal welfare group ‘Dierenbescherming’ (Animal Protection), environmentalists from the Dutch Foundation for Nature and Environment, and consumers’ organisations, but this week we gathered in Strasbourg. While the Netherlands disappeared under a carpet of snow, Euro-MPs and their staff were stuck in the fishbowl of the European Parliament’s building complex. With thousands crammed into limited space, it’s hard not to find yourself distracted by all sorts of peripheral issues. On the other hand there is an advantage to this circus: it’s easier here to find opportunities to talk with leading officials and policy-makers. After all, they’re imprisoned here for a week as well.

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13 December 2009

Group Week good opportunity to visit asylum seekers

Weeks in the European Parliament have colours. There are weeks when the plenary meetings take place in Strasbourg, weeks for committee meetings, weeks in which the various political groups gather and ‘free’ weeks, each with its own colour. Last week was ‘group week’ and so for the SP reserved for meetings within our political group, the United Left.

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