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Blog

9 July 2017

So what kind of European cooperation do we want to see?

Last week I wrote about the plans to further the project for a European superstate. I received a large postbag in reaction to this. People were shocked by how far these plans had got, but others wanted to know how the SP would like to see European cooperation organised. You can find the broad lines in our election manifestos: yes to cooperation, no to a superstate, and so no to a European government. Yet for all of those European Commissioners who see their right to exist as resting on the issuing of ever more fresh EU directives and regulations, this won’t do at all. So we can do without them, and we have a lot more suggestions.

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2 July 2017

Pressure building up again for Superstate Europe

You can read now in ever more media that the European Union is developing a renewed élan. It’s said that citizens of other member states see the problems in Great Britain and all of a sudden are keen on having a strong EU. The European Commission wants an open discussion on the Union’s future, yet at the same time carries on irritably building a superstate, complete with a Minister of Finance, European taxes and a European army. Even the ceremony following Helmut Kohl’s death was used to demonstrate that the European state can organise a ‘state funeral’, complete with ‘national’ anthem. There’s only one answer to all of this: clarity regarding our critique of the existing system.

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25 June 2017

European Commission still sees market as more important than people

This week I took part in trade union protests against new proposals from the European Commission which will only make social dumping easier. The issue is the introduction of the ‘e-card’. Enforcement of regulations on working conditions will be made more difficult, as inspectorates will be obliged to accept the e-card issued in the worker’s country of domicile. The e-card gives information on the individual’s skills and his or her social security status. Even if it’s clear to the inspectorate that there are flaws in this information, they can do nothing. This is absurd. We’ve had just about enough of exploitation and oppression.

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11 June 2017

Of old men and mass meetings

We saw it in the US with Bernie Sanders, with Jean-Luc Mélenchon in France, and this week in Great Britain with Jeremy Corbyn: old men who have managed with their socialist message to attract thousands of young people. Change is in the air and the end of neoliberalism appears to be in sight. In Brussels such things are not dwelt upon: people would rather look to a restored Franco-German axis. This will turn out to have been a fatal error: if the EU continues to ignore the call for change, it’s doomed.

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4 June 2017

EU still has no solution to the problem of asylum policy

Two weeks ago the European Commission presented its twelfth progress report on the relocation from Italy and Greece of refugees. The Commission is doing its best to put a brave face on things and say that everything is going just fine. But go through it and you can see that without real European asylum centres nothing will ever be achieved. It’s still nothing more than a sticking plaster on a serious wound.

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21 May 2017

How committed to social rights is Juncker?

Last week the European Parliament political group to which the SP is affiliated, the United European Left (GUE-NGL), had a visit from European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker. The discussion, which lasted a good hour, focused among other things on social rights. It was striking that Juncker is still trying to distance himself from budgetary fetishism. People, he said, have suffered enough. Now it’s time for investment. When it comes to binding social rights, however, Juncker doesn’t want to know, preferring to stick with the vague principles included in the Commission’s total analysis of the member states which it makes in the framework of European Economic Governance. As for the fight against social dumping, here also the Commission is failing to take any major steps. In the meantime, they want a lot more say over the member states’ social policies. We will have to intensify still further, therefore, our struggle for a social Europe.

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7 May 2017

Exciting week for the franchise world

On 11th May the European Parliament Internal Market Committee will vote on my report on abuses in the world of the franchised retail outlet and how to tackle them. It seems that only in the Netherlands does the organisation of independent retailers, which includes many franchisees, have a voice. MEPs from other member states vigorously deny that anything’s wrong in the sector. This is very often the case when it comes to disputes between small and big firms. They remain unnoticed for many years, with small operators staying silent because of their dependence on those granting franchises. So in the world of the small firm as much as elsewhere, the truth is that only by getting organised collectively can you put an end to abuses.

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1 May 2017

On Labour Day, let’s demand a reset: Workers’ Rights 2.0

Today, May 1st, it is once again Labour Day, when we celebrate workers’ rights, or if you prefer, the rights of working people. Yet things aren’t going so well for these rights. Despite all the fine words, the European Union has spent the last few decades actively participating in the erosion of these rights, while there are now, furthermore, numerous new challenges. One subject of current debate in the European Parliament is the digital market. This offers excellent new opportunities, but there is a downside: workforces the world over are being played off against each other via so-called crowdworking platforms, and people are being redefined as self-employed and exploited in the ‘sharing economy’ by groups such as Uber. Little attention is paid to any of this in Brussels, while we badly need ‘labour rights 2.0’ to be maintained in the time of digitalisation.

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23 April 2017

The long arm of Brussels

The most left candidate in the French presidential election, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, just failed to make the second round, which will now be contested by Marine Le Pen and Emanuel Macron. The election being today, this has only just emerged, but what has been clear over the last few days is how the established European order has turned en masse against candidates for office who are seeking to shake up the European Union. In this they are doing neither the public in Europe nor the EU itself a service: the longer the EU remains the plaything of eurocrats and corporate lobbyists, the greater the chance will be that the whole mess will fall apart.

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