4 February 2018
We vote this week on a report which proposes that the 73 seats which will be vacated as a result of Brexit won't simply be given up.. Instead, 27 of them will be used to bring about a fairer division between the member states, while the rest will constitute a transnational European list. What this would mean for us in the Netherlands is that we would each have two votes, one for the Dutch national list and one for the European list. The Parliament in The Hague has already stated the official view that it would like to see the EP reduced to 678 seats.
28 January 2018
One of the themes of the negotiations on the new multi-annual budget, due to start this year, will be to determine the conditions under which the European Commission will decide which companies EU subsidies will be given to. When it comes to subsidies paid to the member states, qualification depends on 'good economic behaviour'. How such behaviour is defined is determined, moreover, entirely by the Commission via the recommendations to member states in the framework of economic governance. For the most part that comes down to austerity policies and demolition of public services. So it's odd that in relation to subsidies to big corporations the Commission suddenly becomes more reticent, though I do have a few ideas on this. What we should certainly not be doing is extending subsidies to firms which behave in a thoroughly asocial fashion, of which there are rather a lot of examples.
14 January 2018
The European umbrella group for organisations of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), known by its French acronym UEAPME, is sounding a warning: the European Commission wants to change the definition of 'SME' to allow bigger firms to come under it. The EU support which SMEs can access could, the Commission argues, lead to too many of them deliberately remaining small, not seeking to grow beyond the size at which they would fail to qualify for aid. UEAPME has not noticed any such thing, but is of the opinion that small firms have an important social and cultural function which would be undermined by growth. I completely agree with this. CEOs of multinationals get enough support already, but small independent firms need protection.
10 December 2017
Today is the International Day of Human Rights. And yesterday was the International Anti-Corruption Day. These may not have made front page news, and yet they are important, especially now human rights are being undermined from all sides and corruption is rampant. I'll always carry on resisting those who argue that human rights are a western or liberal invention. But as well as being universal, human rights are indivisible. Social rights go hand in hand with classic human rights: they depend on each other, a fact often forgotten in the west.