12 September 2018

SP supports creative rights but not unnecessary censorship on the Internet

Today the European Parliament votes on the enforcement of authors' rights on internet platforms, such as Youtube. The SP has always stood up for the rights of creative artists, but opposes unnecessary censorship.

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4 September 2018

Ombudsman accuses Commission of maladministration in appointment of Secretary-General

European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly has taken a close look into the appointment of Martin Selmayr and concluded that there have been four counts of maladministration. 'These judgments confirm what the European Parliament itself decided in July, that the Juncker Commission acted incorrectly in the appointment of Selmayr,' says SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong. 'So it's of the greatest importance that the discussion about political appointments in the European institutions is accorded the highest priority. The most recent proposals from Commissioner Günther Oettinger are in danger of being quickly hidden away behind closed doors. We mustn't let that happen.'

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2 September 2018

Human rights are about more than individual rights

Next Tuesday, together with Christian Union MEP Peter van Dalen, I'll be presenting the annual report we put together on behalf of the European Parliament Intergroup on Freedom of Religion or Belief and Religious Tolerance. In this report the emphasis will be on the collective aspects of this freedom. Too often human rights are seen as individual rights in the style of 'I have to do this, so it must be allowed.' But all of your human rights are protected, your privacy as well as your rights as part of a community. Take for example your freedom to organise in a trade union, or the many social rights which a properly functioning welfare system demands. You don't hear much about this from politicians on the right, but these same politicians are demolishing communities in rapid tempo. It is precisely that – working together for a better world - that for me is the core of human rights.

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26 August 2018

One movement isn't the same as the others

Movements are arising in the European Union. Macron has his ‘En Marche’, which he wants to see also established at the European level. There's a movement of 'progressive youth', Volt, aimed at a European superstate. And then there's Jean-Luc  Mélenchon's 'La France Insoumise’ (LFI), which he also wants to broaden into a European movement, 'Now, the People’. Three movements, each completely different from the other, but if it's justice for all that moves you, it's only the latter, Mélenchon's, which is of any real interest.

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24 August 2018

Big firms gain right to look at your bank account details

If the EU gets its way, banks in the Netherlands and other member states will shortly be obliged to give multinationals access to your bank account, allowing them to see everything you've bought as well as when and where the transactions took place. Massive firms such as Google and Facebook can hardly wait. They already know what you've been looking for on line, your tastes, who your friends are and any events you've booked for. Soon they'll know also what stuff you're buying anywhere and everywhere, what shops you're buying it in and the exact time of your purchase.  So we should no longer be surprised if Facebook shows us ads for diet programmes because we've been buying more fastfood. In addition to all that, they'll soon know how high your energy bills are and when you're salary is due.

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17 August 2018

Coach drivers sound alarm: hit the brakes!

Foto: Maurits Gemmink

This summer countless holidaymakers will go by coach to their chosen resorts. But the coach drivers who take them have less attractive prospects lying in wait. Just as with freight traffic, the European Union wants to open the gates to drivers from eastern European countries while at the same time extending permitted working hours. But there remains some hope.

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10 August 2018

Ten years on from the August War, South Ossetia remains a frozen conflict

Foto: SP

Ten years ago this week Russian troops entered South Ossetia in response to Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili's decision to send his army to attack the region which, though officially still Georgian territory de jure, had seceded de facto seventeen years earlier, in 1991. The attack had been launched the day before the Russian response, which occurred on 8th August.

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5 August 2018

Barnier should be more flexible over internal market in negotiations with UK

The European Union's Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, found it necessary in a recently submitted article to remind the British once more that the internal market is one and indivisible. If the UK doesn't accept free movement of persons and of services, then there will be no free movement of goods. There is a reason for this rigidity. Whatever we may hear about a social Europe, the core of the existing form of European integration remains the insistence that there is one market and that this can't be avoided by national action. The Brexit referendum revolved around the questions of free movement of persons and services, rather than trade in goods. Rather than reconsidering matters in the light of these concerns, Barnier is slamming the door in Britain's face. This is a foolish response to the UK, but also to other member states where people have similar concerns.

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2 August 2018

Access to EU Council Documents: European Ombudsman rules in favour of SP

On Wednesday the European Ombudsman ruled in favour of SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong's request for access to the EU Council's legal advice in relation to a transparency register. Explaining his request, De Jong said: “As long as three years ago I lodged a request with the Council for access to the full advice given by the Legal Services on the question of possible participation by the Council in the transparency register. The Council has repeatedly refused to grant this, but not only did the Ombudsman rule in my favour on every point, but has also ensured that the Council has given me access to the advice, uncensored. The ruling confirms that documents in the framework of an inter-institutional agreement between Council, Commission and Parliament are comparable to legislative documents. Earlier this year the European Court of Justice ruled that important documents must be publicly available, which will at last give member states' citizens more of an insight into how decisions are taken in Brussels and means that governments can no longer hide behind a veil of secrecy.”

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