1 July 2018
Attention has been so focussed on the debate around immigration that other important issues have been hardly noticed. The heads of EU member state governments, for instance, last week voted to establish a European Defence Fund. I am not in the least surprised that these leaders took no notice of the criticisms of the militarisation of the European research programme from ourselves and others, but that they should ignore the call from more than 800 scientists to at least spend no money on the development of killer robots was less predictable. The combination of artificial intelligence and weapons is - literally and figuratively – deadly. The EU, however, finds this of sufficient interest to develop it further. Nothing, absolutely nothing, remains of the original ideal of peace.
24 June 2018
This summer the Greek aid programme will come to an end, following the agreement in the Eurogroup on an easing of the country's debt obligations. But should the Greeks be feeling relieved? In exchange for the aid the country will continue to exist under effective receivership. Moreover, the real winner remains Germany. Not only were the German banks which at the high point of the crisis continued to carry Greek advances on their balances rescued, it turns out now that the German central bank earned €2.9 billion on the bonds and loans which it bought.
17 June 2018
It was one of the Juncker Commission;s promises: the European Union would have a social pillar and as a result, everything would be different. If you follow the news, you'll know that this isn't what happened. The EU finds it tremendous that French President Emmanuel Macron is pushing the liberalisation of his country's railways, with the workers as its first victims. Their terms of employment are to be 'reformed', for which read demolished. At almost the same moment, the national public broadcaster NOS reports that call centres in, amongst other places, Lisbon, are holding down costs by exploiting young Dutch people. A truly social EU would take some sort of action against this, but in Brussels all is quiet.
14 June 2018
The president of the European Parliament, the useless Italian Berlusconi fan Antonio Tajani, was beside himself with joy. The latest figures from the European opinion pollster Eurobarometer showed that the European Union had never been so popular. For the Dutch people, this type of self-recommendation brings to mind the Toilet Duck, as I shall explain.
3 June 2018
We get them all in Strasbourg, the leaders of the member states' governments, determined to give us their vision of Europe's future. French president Emmanuel Macron was there in April, Luxembourg's prime minister Xavier Bettel last week, and in a week-and-a-half it will be Dutch premier Mark Rutte's turn. Macron's and Bettel's speeches were full of fine words about European values, but the latter inadvertently showed his true face when he insisted that taxes for multinationals should be, as far as he's concerned, kept down. Just as Macron abolished the tax on big capital (of a value exceeding €1.3 billion), on the grounds that he wants to encourage young people to themselves become billionaires (!), and just as Rutte is looking to get rid of the tax on dividends, Bettel did not enjoy my challenging his similar proposals and views during the debate which followed his speech. But they're all the same - Macron, Bettel and Rutte – the future of Europe doesn't interest them in the least. Their procession through Strasbourg is nothing but a parade of multinationals' servants.