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Europe

13 February 2019

Singapore treaty is a sell-out to multinationals

The SP has major concerns about the European Parliament's decision to vote in support of the investment treaty with Singapore. The treaty opens the door to foreign investors looking to speculate on our financial markets. In particular, opening state bonds to foreign investors is a recipe for disaster.

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12 February 2019

European public prosecutor, European fire brigade – what next?

Criminals and natural disasters don't respect borders, so member states need to cooperate in order to catch villains and help each other in the event, for example, of forest fires and floods. That doesn't mean that we should hand over control, leaving criminal investigations and prosecutions, as well as the combating of disasters, to Brussels. The newly established European Public Prosecutor’s Office threatens to increase Brussels' meddling. And that goes now also for the establishment of a European fire service.

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3 February 2019

European political parties – an ill-conceived system

Once every five years they awake, the European political parties, in the runup to the European elections. They choose their lead candidates and in a number of cases draw up 'platforms' the planks of which must be adopted by all of the affiliated national parties in their own European election manifestos. In the lead candidates, whose goal is to become Commission president, we have little interest, but neither would we like to think that our election manifesto was being determined in part by a European party of this kind. We'd rather leave that to our members. That's what's known as democracy, something which is missing from these European parties, most of which allow only national parties to be members, not individuals, a strange construction indeed.

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13 January 2019

How important are human rights?

It's no coincidence that well-informed journalists such as Bas Heijne and Hella Hueck are drawing attention to the damage which has been done in recent decades by the sacred belief in the market, the way in which people feel insecure, rejected and in competition with everyone else, a struggle which they think they will lose. It's time therefore to look for the tools to give people hope of a victory. In this context could the international human rights treaties add another strand, obliging everyone to take account of the interests of others? My answer is that they could not exactly do this, but they could certainly help.

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6 January 2019

European Parliament can't get enough luxury buildings

 Yellow jackets, Brexit, European elections : you'd expect the European Parliament to have become a little more reasoable, even humble, in relation to the citizenry of the member states. But when you consider the policy regarding their own buildings, there's not much sign of that. Expensive information offices in exclusive locations in every member state, and in Brussels, the purchase of the House of European History and of the Solvay Library, rebuilding and thorough renovation of the Paul Henri Spaak building, and to cap the lot a cool €3 million for guest accommodation at the Jean Monnet House in the region of Versailles. As a member of the Committee on Budgetary Control I'll be focusing on this behaviour worthy of the Sun King, and absolutely unworthy of people's representatives.

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22 November 2018

Halt negotiations with Mercosur trade bloc

Negotiations on the treaty between the EU and Mercosur, which will prove profitable for – amongst others - the European automobile industry and the financial sector, continued last week. Mercosur is the South American trading bloc and customs union comprising Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Venezuela. The negotiations have for some time failed to make progress, because the Mercosur countries want to export more chicken and beef than the EU is willing to allow on to the internal market.

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15 November 2018

Great result for rail passengers' rights

Foto: Peter Bodensee / Pixabay

The European Parliament voted today by a large majority to improve rail passengers' rights. Expressing his delight at the result, SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong, said: “Despite attempts by the rail companies' lobby to weaken my proposal, it was accepted in full: better compensation in the event of delay and more immediate support for people with limited mobility.” Referring to the Netherlands' own national carrier, he said that “the NS can no longer hide behind 'falling leaves' or 'frozen points'. Provided the Parliament's report is accepted in negotiations with the Council, serious delays will mean the passenger has a right to assistance and compensation”.

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4 November 2018

European Parliament can't wait to spend taxpayers' money

The money which the European Union has at its disposal is primarily dependent on a multi-annual budget drawn up for a period of seven years. This budget is decided by the member states, with the European Parliament enjoying no more than a 'veto or approve' vote. With the help of the European Commission, however, there's more to it than that for the EP. In all sorts of policy areas we are receiving in rapid tempo proposals for programmes. This involves a normal legislative procedure, one which gives the Parliament a role, and once a programme has been adopted it will be written in stone for several years, including its costs. This is fine for the EP, which thus gets a greater say. I don't understand, however, why the heads of government, such as our own Prime minister Mark Rutte, go along with it,. I would have thought they would be concerned to save taxpayers' money, but by agreeing to so many programmes they risk the multi-annual budget turning out to be very expensive indeed.

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25 October 2018

Growing conflict over MEPs' expenses

On 24th October a clear majority in the European Parliament voted to back proposals from SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong which aim to put an end to the secrecy surrounding the general expenses reimbursement for MEPs. Welcoming the vote, De Jong said: “It's idiotic that while most Members are in agreement with the need for improved transparency and accountability in relation to the payment of the €4,400 which they receive each month for office expenses, the EP Bureau, which has responsibility for this, is refusing to implement their decision. So I'm pleased that the Bureau, under the leadership of the Parliament's president, will be called out on this, now that my resolution has been carried. Hopefully this means that the matter can be resolved by the time of the European elections.”

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