12 November 2017

Market, market, market

During the last few weeks I have been pestered by lobbyists about the ‘market in services’. The member states, they argue, are offering far too little and for that reason the lobbyists are pleased with the package of European Commission proposals designed ‘to allow this market to do its work.’ What they forget is that services differ greatly one from another and that regulation of the market is necessary in order to prevent abuses. It’s not for nothing that tradespeople study for diplomas which prove they are qualified. If these diplomas come from member states other than one’s own, that’s fine as long as you can check up on them. Yet for the European Commission and the lobbyists only the market counts. This is precisely the area in which you can see how Brussels is possessed by these lobbyists and their neoliberal market-think. Time to stick the boot into this sort of proposal.

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8 November 2017

European Commission’s proposals on regional transport: yet more liberalisation

SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong will oppose the proposals on local and regional transport services presented today by the European Commission.

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5 November 2017

Arms industry has Brussels in its grip

We’ve heard it in recent weeks from both the European Commission and the leaders of member state governments: threats on the international level are so great that we have urgent need of a European defence policy. Over the next ten years the Commission wants to channel €40 billion into weapons research via a European Defence Fund. But is the so-called ‘threat’ the real reason for the sudden demand for more finance? A Belgian peace group investigated this and what did it find? The arms industry dreamed up all these plans and pushed them through – the umpteenth example of Brussels being led on the leash by lobbyists for big capital.

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16 October 2017

De Jong disappointed by European Parliament’s position on detached workers

The European Parliament voted today on the report by PvdA (Dutch Labour Party) MEP Agnes Jongerius on the reform of the detached workers directive. Describing himself as “disappointed”, SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong said “I value enormously  the efforts made by  Agnes Jongerius and know that she fought hard to get a good result, but I also see missed opportunities. Worst of all is the fact that equal pay for equal work will come in only after two years in which a worker is posted abroad by his or her firm, while the average length of such ‘detachment’ is only four months. This is disappointing. I also see it as bad that the possibility exists to draw up separate rules for lorry drivers, which doesn’t bode well.”

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16 October 2017

Kox report on European convention system receives near-unanimous backing at Council of Europe

Today in Strasbourg, after two years of preparation, working visits, round table discussions and of going through a great deal of information, SP Senate leader Tiny Kox saw his report on ‘Defending the acquis of the Council of Europe: preserving 65 years of successful intergovernmental co-operation’ adopted by what was close to being a unanimous vote. “In my report I argue for the effective protection and sustainable development of the convention system on which the Council of Europe is based,” Senator Kox, who also heads the United Left Group in the Parliamentary Assembly  of the Council of Europe (PACE), explained. “In these conventions, which are embodied in international treaties, the human and social rights of all 835 million inhabitants of forty-seven member states are enumerated and guaranteed.”

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8 October 2017

Conmen on the internet – ‘Bloodless Crime’

We don’t think about it enough, but when we go online with our mobile or our PC, any one of us could be the victim of conmen on the Internet, of cyber-crime. This applies to private individuals, state bodies and companies. Tomorrow I’m taking part in a conference of the Foundation to Tackle Financial-Economic Crime in the Netherlands (known by its Dutch acronym, Safecin). The conference title is ‘Bloodless Crime’, and its purpose is to discuss the national and EU measures needed to protect Internet users, including in particular small businesses. While the Netherlands is starting to wake up to the issue, the European Parliament, unfortunately, is still half-asleep. Time to change that.

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28 September 2017

The political enthusiasm of Spain’s Podemos

Foto: Nynke Vissia

Issuing from the Spanish protest movement 15M, the newly-founded left party Podemos, won – “to their own amazement” – five seats in the European Parliament and 20% of the votes in the Spanish general election. Researcher and writer Frans Bieckmann, founder of the progressive thinktank The Broker, says that “Podemos breaks with neoliberalism’s groupthink. They want to determine the rules of the game themselves.” Below Bieckmann answers question from SP monthly Tribune.

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10 September 2017

Ignore Juncker, but keep a close eye on Macron and Merkel

This week the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, will give his State of the Union address in the European Parliament in Brussels. Everyone’s holding their breath, because Juncker is going to present a new, sixth scenario for the future of the EU, the nature of which has until now been kept under wraps. What many people are forgetting is that Juncker has no power in this, that it’s the heads of the member state governments who will decide. So it’s much more important to keep your eye on Macron and Merkel than it is to heed what Juncker has to say.

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3 September 2017

The European Commission shakes its fist

Last week Commissioner Frans Timmermans didn’t pull his punches: to save the rule of law in the country, the European Commission would be coming down hard on Poland. At the same time the British were informed by the Commission’s Brexit negotiator that they had presented no real proposals and that the talks would be held up. And then, to cap it all, Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker announced that he had a sixth scenario up his sleeve designed to make the EU into a true political union, or, as you might put it, a superstate. He had till then said nothing of this, because that would have given opponents too much time to mobilise resistance amongst the member states. You could be forgiven for forgetting that European Commissioners are merely high-level civil servants. It’s time we got rid of them.

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