18 April 2018

European Commission refuses to take action in response to tough motion on Selmayr

Immediately after today's adoption by the European Parliament of a tough resolution criticising the way in which Martin Selmayr was appointed Secretary General of the European Commission, the Commission issued a press release stating in effect that it would take no action in response. “It's a pity that the Parliament renounced its most important weapon, the postponement of approval of the Commission's accounts. Inadvisedly, as it now appears, because Juncker's Commission is sticking stubbornly to its arrogant position,” says SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong.

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18 April 2018

JEFTA is a Trojan Horse

Foto: SP

SP Euro-MP Anne-Marie Mineur describes the 'agreement in principle' concluded today by the European Commission with Japan – JEFTA, or the Japan-EU Free Trade Agreement - as a Trojan Horse. “The controversial chapters on investment protection (the ISDS – Investor State dispute Settlement) and the transfer of personal data for commercial purposes are for the moment being kept out of the picture,” she says. “This is in the hope that the removal of trade tariffs will persuade the European Council and the European Parliament to approve the treaty. That's a very underhand way to pilot a controversial treaty away from democratic control.”

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17 April 2018

Selmayrgate: the Final Stage

On 16th April the Budgetary Control Committee of the European Parliament passed a stern resolution criticising the rapid way in which Martin Selmayr had been appointed Secretary-General of the European Commission, and calling on the Commission itself, among others, to join it in condemning the appointment.

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8 April 2018

Nepotism doesn’t stop at the Hungarian border

The European Commission, and in particular the Dutch Commissioner responsible for such matters, Frans Timmermans, are showing a great deal of concern over the decline of the rule of law in Hungary and Poland, including the lack of an independent judiciary, the extent of corruption and nepotism, and encroachment on journalists’ freedom. All important matters, but the EU’s own institutions, as well as the member states themselves, can also be found lacking in these areas. Below I give a number of examples.

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7 April 2018

SP Motion wins backing from Minister in debate on EU public prosecutor

Tuesday saw a debate in the national Senate on Dutch participation in the European public prosecutor’s office (EPPO), an institution that the EU is establishing with the aim of combating international fraud. The SP is, just as is the case for a narrow majority in both houses of the Dutch Parliament, against the country’s participation. A ‘yellow card’ has now been shown, indicating that national parliaments are of the opinion that this is a matter which must be taken out of the hands of the European Commission and considered directly by the member states.

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30 March 2018

'Sleepwet' referendum demonstrates why Parliament isn't doing its job

In the Sleepwet campaign the politicians in The Hague failed to show their best side. Gert-Jan Segers of the centre-right Christian Union said that those who opposed the Sleepwet (which the Dutch electorate voted against in the referendum) would have some explaining to do should our country be subject to an attack. The same party's leader Sybrand van Haersma Buma said prior to the referendum that the CDA would take no notice of the result. Premier Mark Rutte, of the VVD, also a centre-right party, went so far as to compare the referendum to an old-fashioned hobby such as tatting. Kees Verhoeven of the centrist D66, a party which once made the demand for referenda central to its politics, showed himself to be an exceptionally bad loser when he tweeted after the vote that the majority for 'no' wasn't really a majority at all.

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25 March 2018

The arrogance of power

This Tuesday, 27th March, my entire day at the European Parliament will be taken up by discussions of scandals. In the morning, it's the Hungarian government's fraud; in the afternoon, the Commission's policy on integrity, specifically the appointment of Martin Selmayr as Commission Secretary-General. Of course there is a difference between the corrupt behaviour of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, suspected of corruption and of the evasion of EU public procurement rules, and that of Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker. Both are doing a fine job for their chums, because although he may have followed all the regulations, it's still astonishing that last week Juncker threatened to resign if his European People's Party (EPP, a centre-right group and the biggest in the EP) colleagues failed to support Selmayr's appointment. I would say that both Juncker and Orban are suffering from the arrogance of power.

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21 March 2018

Rejection of E-Card hard blow for market fundamentalists

The European Parliament Internal Market Committee today rejected by an overwhelming majority European Commission proposals for the introduction of the E-Card, aka the Electronic Services Card. Commenting on the outcome of the vote, SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong said, 'This is the first time that the European Parliament has given greater importance to social rights than to unbridled movement of services across borders. I hope that this represents an historic about-face and that we can build on it a European Union in which it's not the interests of multinationals and their market fundamentalism which take cetre stage but the rights of ordinary people.”

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18 March 2018

Reject the Services E-card

On 21st March we will concentrating first and foremost on our local elections, because while we may be the European Parliament group, we'll all be off to vote for our SP candidates and to celebrate their success in our own branches. Before I can do that, however, there's a vote in the European Parliament and the situation remains tense. In the Internal Market Committee the likely vote on the Services E-card, with which the Commission proposes to promote the free movement of services across borders, is evenly balanced. But the proposal is absurd, as evidenced by the fact that not only the unions, but also a large proportion of employers are opposed. The card will make things easier for abusive firms and self-employed people who lack proper qualifications to establish themselves throughout the EU. Hopefully common sense will prevail and the proposal will go straight into the recycling bin.

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