1 May 2016

Mayday passes Brussels by

On June 1st yet another ‘European Business Summit’ will be held, at which almost the entire European Commission will be meeting with – principally - multinationals. The Commission always finds this a high point. Today is Labour Day, the Workers' Day. On this matter the Commission is a lot quieter. Not a single comment on their website. This shows how in Brussels it's multinationals who run the show. Real involvement of workers and the unemployed doesn't exist for the time being except as fairly empty words such as the 'social pillar'.

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24 April 2016

Bad smell hangs over European Parliament’s restaurants

With thousands of employees and visitors per day wanting to be fed, catering in the European Parliament is serious business. The EP recently changed its catering contractor, the aim being to lower costs and improve quality. Now it turns out that the change has led to a grave deterioration in the working conditions of canteen staff increasingly employed on zero-hours contracts, under which they must stay at the beck and call of the employer without knowing when or for how many hours they will be required.

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17 April 2016

Refugee deal with Turkey: Let the European Court decide

However proud Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte may be of the deal on the refugee crisis concluded with Turkey, the UN and NGOs such as Amnesty International have grave doubts regarding the deal’s legitimacy. Sending refugees back to a country where asylum procedures are not in good order is indeed in conflict with the UN’s refugee convention, as well as the European Convention of Human Rights. For these reasons I am supporting the initiative from a Spanish United Left Group MEP to request a decision from the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

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9 April 2016

How transparent are the diplomats in Brussels?

On 2nd May I presented the demand of the all-party Transparency Intergroup in the European Parliament for an obligatory transparency register to the responsible European Commissioner, Frans Timmermans. One of the questions with which we are still struggling concerns the position of the member states’ diplomatic representation in Brussels. Should the Dutch ambassador to the European Union also be obliged to receive only registered lobbyists?

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3 April 2016

Keep an eye on Greece

Foto: SP
This week Wikileaks leaked a report from an internal meeting of the IMF off

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20 March 2016

SP and far-right have nothing in common – at home or in European Parliament

All of a sudden this week I have begun to receive Tweets and emails asking me whether the SP’s European Parliament team would ever cooperate with the extreme right. Normally I wouldn’t bother reacting to such a question, but because I’ve received so many concerned enquiries, I’ve decided in the interests of clarity to state categorically on this weeklog: with the Dutch PVV and their far right allies, the SP will not cooperate or work either at home or in Brussels.

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13 March 2016

The 'poor' life of a Euro-MP

In the next few weeks we'll be voting on the European Parliament's financial accounts, among those of other EU institutions. This might appear to be somewhat dry fare but read through the report on the EP and you'll occasionally come across something a bit spicy. The German Christian Democrat rapporteur believes that the cuts in spending have been a success. As far as the SP's concerned, however, there are still plenty of possibilities for further belt-tightening. The lives of Euro-MPs aren't really all that poor.

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6 March 2016

Ports are there for all of us

This week in Strasbourg we vote on the European Parliament's input into the negotiations over the new Port Services Regulation. In the past there has been a great deal of perfectly justified unrest surrounding EU legislation on this issue. Ports would have to be privatised. Pilotage must be subject to competition. Moreover, rules protecting port employees must be annulled.

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28 February 2016

Putting an end to the grip of big corporations on Commission’s advisory groups

The European Commission has some nine hundred separate expert advisory groups, from which its officials receive information which they use in the writing of legislation or in supervising its implementation. Traditionally these groups have been dominated by lobbyists from major corporations.

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21 February 2016

There’s only one crisis in Europe: Brussels’ failure to listen

These days, the leading players in Brussels are inclined to see themselves as victims. The world beyond Europe is hostile, or at least complicated. Within the EU member states, the public doesn’t understand, however much Brussels does its best to look after them. Merkel’s facial expression at this week’s European Council summit spoke volumes: don’t you see how much I’m battling for Europe?

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