23 October 2016

Five advisors from the European Commission given power over national budgets

This week the European Commission announced that they had selected ‘in a fully transparent manner’ five members of the new advisory council on national budgetary policy, the so-called ‘European Fiscal Board’. The European Parliament was not involved in the selection. And so once again we see a new organ, far away from the European public, which will soon be able to issue important advice on the running of national budgets. The Commission will hide behind the advice notes when it comes to making its ‘recommendations’ to the member states.

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16 October 2016

Why does Timmermans not report corruption at the EU?

Last Friday the European Parliament Transparency Intergroup, a cross-party network of MEPs, sent an angry letter to Commissioner Frans Timmermans. This year the Commission once again published a report on the member states’ anti-corruption policies, but it will include no chapter on the fight against corruption within the European Union’s own institutions. After the real mess surrounding the European Commissioners’ moonlighting, you’d expect the Commission to make this a spearhead of its approach. Timmermans refuses to do so, however, without coming up with any clear arguments against.

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9 October 2016

Bayer and Monsanto – no happy marriage

Shortly in the European Parliament we’ll be discussing once more the annual report on EU competition policy. You’d be amazed by what’s possible. European Commissioner Margrethe Vestager recently answered my letter on Bayer’s takeover of Monsanto by saying she had received as yet no report of this, but she would certainly be looking into it. In my view the takeover should, however, have set alarm bells ringing, not only because of Monsanto’s questionable reputation, but principally because it raises the question as to when enough is enough, and when corporations become ‘too big to fail’.

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2 October 2016

The SP is sometimes, of course, in favour of European legislation

The SP is well-known to be an EU-critical party, and we are certainly that. No interference from Brussels and an end to the 30-year-old bond between the petty dictators in that city and the multinationals – these are what we stand for, along with such things as putting a stop to the revolving door which has delivered nice jobs to ex-Commissioners like Barroso, Kroes and now also the Dane Connie Hedegaard at major financial institutions and corporations. This revolving door leads, as anyone can see, to an unhealthy conflict of interests.

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25 September 2016

The media too must get used to the end of ‘market think’

The national daily NRC’s comments on the possible re-election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the British Labour Party are strange indeed. Apparently his re-election would mean that Labour will be out of power for the next twenty years. Pure tunnel vision: apparently only parties that continue to believe in the market as a solution for everything can expect to be elected to government. We in the SP believe in people’s power.

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11 September 2016

Lessons of ‘Dieselgate’ - No to marketisation when our health and safety are at stake

Next week the entire European Parliament will head off to Strasbourg once again. On Monday evening I am taking part in a hearing of the committee of enquiry into what has been dubbed ‘Dieselgate’, the scandal of fraudulent software in cars. The European Commissioner for the Internal Market, Elżbieta Bieńkowska, will come along to explain to us that she is not completely au fait with the precise situation with regard to this dodgy software, because the member states have not given her all of the necessary information.

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4 September 2016

Apple lobby leaves a nasty taste in the mouth

First of all ex-European Commissioner Neelie Kroes wrote a strongly-worded letter to The Guardian: her successor, the Dane Margrethe Verstager , must not interfere with the tax agreements between member states and multinationals like Apple.  Then, two members of the centre-left Dutch Labour Party (PvdA) repeated the argument in the Dutch daily De Telegraaf.  Apple has lobbyists everywhere. I would have expected this from Neelie Kroes, who is up to her ears in the world of the multinationals. That PvdA members lend themselves to it, however, is disappointing.

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7 August 2016

This autumn the EU will reach a crossroads

In September the European Parliament will begin its deliberations on the proposals from the Belgian Liberal Guy Verhofstadt for a superstate complete with European ministers. At the same time four eastern member states, including Slovakia, which since 1st July has held the EU’s rotating presidency, have announced their intentions to come up with concrete proposals for a looser EU, one in which national parliaments would have more say. We in the SP are against a superstate, because we believe in giving as much control as possible to people over their own lives and their own surroundings.

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31 July 2016

Juncker’s European investment Fund is mainly for the old boys’ network

Eighteen months ago the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude  Juncker, announced that he was going to ensure that investment would return to Europe. The EU budget would guarantee €16 billion and the European Investment Bank (EIB) a further €5 billion.  Along with those sums private investors would provide additional finance. In total, €315 billion on innovative investment would be created. According to a celebratory report from the Commission, since then an agreement has been reached on €100 billion in concrete investments.

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