12 March 2018

Real enquiry into shady appointment of Selmayr begins now

The debate on the dubious appointment of Martin Selmayr as Secretary General of the European Commission left SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong feeling reasonably satisfied. “The European Parliament voted virtually unanimously for the proposal which I presented along with the Greens to the effect that the Budgetary Control Committee of the EP should carry out a detailed assessment of the appointment procedure. The information presented by the Commission itself via Commissioner Gunther Oettinger fell well short of what was needed. Not a single question was answered. But as a result of massive pressure from the EP he was forced to promise full cooperation with the enquiry. I'm already sharpening the knives, because as the spokesman on budgetary control for the United European Left group, I'll be taking an active part in the enquiry.”

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11 March 2018

“Democrats 66” in European Parliament no friends of local democracy

On March 6th I took part in a debate in Brussels with fellow Dutch MEPs on the approaching local elections. That it would be the EU which took centre stage in this debate, rather than local authorities was something I had anticipated. But that when they voted to approve far-reaching proposals, the MEPs from other parties had no idea what they were voting for, borders on the unbelievable.

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6 March 2018

ECJ ruling beginning of the end for ISDS

“This is the beginning of the end for ISDS”, says SP Euro-MP Anne-Marie Mineur in response to the claim from Dutch company Achmea against the Slovakian government, a claim thrown out today by the European Court of Justice (ECJ). The judgment calls into question some 200 arbitration sections in around the same number of investment treaties between EU member states, but also offers encouragement in the fight waged for several years against the inclusion of such sections in the trade and investment treaties which the EU is currently seeking to conclude with countries and blocs outside the Union.

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4 March 2018

May isn't laughable – she's a dangerous market fundamentalist

Inside the Brussels bubble, British Prime minister Theresa May is generally ridiculed. That's why I seldom put much faith in Brussels' analyses. That goes also for the speech which May gave on 2nd March on the new 'economic partnership' that she wants to forge with the EU. This wasn't a ridiculous speech at all, if you read through it, but a demonstration of how market fundamentalists like the Tories always in the end favour the market over the interests of working people. However much she claims the opposite, she always backs the 10%, while the 90% can go hang. This can be seen particularly in her plans for virtually free movement of services. As a result, British workers will be faced with unfair competition on the labour market.

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1 March 2018

EU has still learnt nothing from opposition to TTIP

We were after all clear enough about this: treaties such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, the TTIP, are not wanted. Nobody's got anything against trade which is fair, but what we don't want are the sort of measures from the European Commission which mean that it's party time for multinationals. This was shown by the number of signatures on petitions, the number of letters I received from people in all walks of life, the huge numbers of demonstrators who got out on the streets, and the incomparable number of people who took the trouble to participate in the debate. Yet in the new mega-treaties that are on their way – with Mexico (population 124 million), Japan (126 million) and the Mercosur countries of South America (126 million) - there is nothing to suggest that the Commission has listened to what the people want for as much as a second.

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22 February 2018

PM must set clear limits to EU actions

More EU. That's the short version of the most important and at the same time the only message which the European Commission has in store for the member states when it comes to the future of the European Union. SP Member of Parliament and spokeswoman on European affairs Renske Leijten is having none of it. “When for the first time in history a member state – the UK - is taking its leave of the EU, the European Commission is presenting one proposal after another for the EU to integrate still more quickly and still further,” she says. “So the EU budget should be increased by 10%-20%, six new member states will be admitted in 2025, changes in the euro will give member states even less control of the budget and the banks, and local authorities will soon be paralysed if they adopt policies that impinge on the interests of the internal market. The European Commission should just take a step back and take a look at what's really needed instead of always looking for European solutions. In the SP's view that means less money for the EU and more control for the member states.”

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20 February 2018

European Commissioner Katainen should not have met with Barroso

Lobbying watchdog Corporate Europe Observatory has discovered that, against all previous agreements, on 25 October, 2017, Jyrki Katainen, Commissioner for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness met with former president of the European Commission in his present function as an advisor to Goldman Sachs. Commenting on the matter, SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong said: “Katainen must come and explain himself before the European Parliament, if only because there was so much criticism when Barroso accepted the post at Goldman Sachs. Barroso should never be accepted as a lobbyist. He himself promised to swear off any lobbying activities aimed at the Commission. Katainen is thumbing his nose at the rules. As a Vice-President of the European Commission his behaviour should be unimpeachable, instead of which he'd apparently rather maintain his contacts via an old boys network. That's unacceptable.”

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20 February 2018

Campaign for openness in the European Union

On Monday, SP Member of Parliament Renske Leijten, together with fellow MPs Pieter Omtzigt of the centre-right CDA and Martin van Rooijen from seniors' party 50PLUS handed a letter to Eurogroup chair Mario Centeno containing a plea for more openness from the EU Council of Ministers and the Eurogroup of twenty-six parliaments from twenty member states. They want to see documents relating to decision-making in the two bodies made public and to be given access to voting figures. “The thrust of our argument is clear,” says Leijten. “The EU Council of Ministers is too much of a 'black box' for national MPs. It's never clear how negotiations are going or how the agenda has been arrived at.”

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18 February 2018

Which government leader will dare to tackle the EU agencies?

Tomorrow afternoon in the European Parliament we will be discussing the functioning of the European Agencies, which number around forty. It would be a fine thing were the heads of government to include such a discussion in their negotiations on the multi-annual budget which will determine how much the European Union can spend from 2021. The biggest savings could be made by putting an end to the pumping of money back and forth between the member states and Brussels. Savings could also be achieved by merging or closing down a number of agencies. I'm curious to find out which of the government leaders will show real leadership and instigate such a debate.

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