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Europe

5 July 2018

European Parliament vote brings no progress for truck drivers

All of the reports on the EU Mobility Package were today rejected and negotiations in the Transport Committee will have to begin anew. Responding to the vote, SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong said: “Of course it's a good thing that neoliberal proposals have been rejected, but exploitation of drivers continues and the Parliament has not succeeded in finding a good answer to this situation. It turns out that there's just as little chance of gathering a majority willing to give priority to a real social policy. As ever, the market still takes precedence over people. That's why I persist in advocating a Social and Green Protocol which prioritises people and the environment, putting their interests above those of corporate capital and the market.”

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3 July 2018

Euro-MPs carry on lining their pockets

Against all expectations the Bureau of the European Parliament, the body which governs internal affairs, has thrown out the – already modest – proposals for more openness around the spending of office expenses. Commenting on the decision, SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong said “Every month each MEP receives more than €4,400 tax-free for 'office expenses'. This isn't supposed to be additional income, but serves for the purchase of such things as laptops, printers and the like. The least that you should be able to expect is that they would be obliged to have their books checked by an external accountant. Yet for a majority in the Bureau, taking their lead from the centre-right and some of the centre-left, this went too far. In my view, these people are simply lining their pockets.  And it's precisely these groups which go on and on about the Parliament's image and who are trying, via expensive information campaigns, to persuade voters to come to the polling booths for next year's European Parliament elections. Their greedy behaviour means, however, that they are losing all credibility.”

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1 July 2018

Killer robots made possible by the EU

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. 

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24 June 2018

Should the Greeks be happy now?

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.

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22 June 2018

Refugees deserve protection

Foto: Mstyslav Chernov / Unframe

The United Nations Refugee Agency, the UNHCR, stated on 21st June that it was appalled by the continuing increase in the number of refugees and other migrants who are losing their lives at sea. In the last few days 220 people have been drowned while attempting to reach Europe. The SP sees this as a horrifying statistic and argues that it can't be allowed to go on in this way. 

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17 June 2018

Shut up about a 'social Europe'

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.

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14 June 2018

The Toilet Duck and the European Commission

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.

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11 June 2018

Improvement of the Dutch language won’t be in the Constitution

Not only Papiamentu, but also the Dutch language has many words that have been copied from other languages. Most of these words originate from French and German. After the Second World War, English became the dominant language. However, I think all these English terms we use don’t improve the language. Turn on the radio and you hear English songs, turn on the TV and you see programmes in English.

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3 June 2018

The procession of the multinationals' servants

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.
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