The SP in Europe

14 October 2008

The SP in Europe

Current European issues and the SP's approach – Important items on next week's European Parliament Plenary Agenda

Work and residence permits

Erik MeijerHow should access to the EU labour market be regulated for people who are not citizens of a member state? And should Brussels be in charge? Selective immigration from, for example, Africa, can help to address the expected shortage of highly skilled workers and professionals. SP Euro-MP Erik Meijer: “The European Commission needs to give this further consideration. Attracting more well-educated and trained people here will also have major consequences in their countries of origin. The SP says: the EU must bring the work to the people and not the people to the work. Africans should have less need to have to move here, and we should be doing something about this. If we do nothing, the resulting brain drain will exacerbate the shortage of doctors and other professionals, such as IT workers, in Africa.” Referring to the proposed selective work permit, Meijer added that the ‘blue card’ was “lifted from the US ‘green card’, but this also has major drawbacks. The Netherlands must be able to continue to formulate our own admissions policy.”

Cluster bombs

What has been done to ban cluster bombs? This question will be on the European Parliament agenda for Wednesday. Just before the agreed deadline - the end of 2008 - a treaty will be signed in Oslo. But countries such as Israel, the US and India are not signing - while there have been allegations that Russia and Georgia used them in the recent war. 'In answer to my question of 20th December 2007 I was told that the EU had 'expressed its conviction' in international fora, but that is for me too weak. On this same Wednesday evening there will also be a legislative debate on the simplification of the conditions for the movement of defence-related products within the EU. I want the EU to take more effective action to persuade trading partners that the deployment of cluster weapons leads to huge suffering. Children can be particularly vulnerable because the spring-loading mechanism is sometimes mistaken for a toy.”

Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)

Since 2003 the CAP has been undergoing a reform process, the latest component of which was the 'health check', an enquiry into the extent to which the policy was still functioning as intended. The European Parliament debate on this issue was held last summer. On Tuesday, the parliament will turn its attention to CAP rules for support for farmers. Proposed cuts to direct support payments are lower than expected. In order to transform them into genuine income support measures, the SP has proposed imposing a limit of 40.000 euros per farmer. "This would prevent multinationals such as Heineken and Nestlé, which have no real involvement in agriculture, from receiving thousands in subsidies, depriving the farmers for whom this money is actually intended," says Kartika Liotard. "Unfortunately our proposals did not get enough support from other parties. We will continue to argue for them. In addition, more attention must be paid to the effects of agriculture on the climate. Intensive livestock farming is a major contributor to emissions of greenhouse gases. I would like to see scaling down intensive livestock rearing take a greater role in the CAP reform. This would also speed up the much-needed improvement in animal welfare in Europe. An end should also be put once and for all to export subsidies which undermine fair trade with developing countries.'

Brussels meddling

The SP group in the European Parliament was delighted to hear the news that curly cucumbers and strangely shaped fruit will once more be available for purchase in the European Union. "We have often used the EU rules on bent bananas and straight cucumbers to illustrate the Brussels mania for rules," says Kartika Liotard, Member of the European Parliament for the SP. "Of course it went down well with our party that they kept the rules on the shape of tomatoes! I hope that the prediction by British supermarket chain Sainsbury’s that the price of cucumbers will fall by 40% turns out correct. Perfectly sound foods which as things stand have to be rejected can now be sold and eaten.”

Modified seeds and bees

Bees are having a hard time: there is less pollen and less nectar. This is a result of modified and ´treated´ plants and seeds. Scarcer food and damage to their immune systems make bees more vulnerable to parasites. If bees pollinate fewer plants, yields from arable crops, fruit and vegetables decline. "The absence of bees provokes a chain reaction," says SP Euro-MP Kartika Liotard. "I am curious to know what the European Commission will answer during question time on Tuesday morning to my question as to what measures are needed to combat the problem of insufficient pollination, what research is needed into parasites and diseases which attack bee populations and to what extent they are prepared to establish buffer zones and other protective measures for pollen and nectar-rich areas."

You are here