The State of the Union

6 November 2008

The State of the Union

The Dutch national Parliament today debated the situation in Europe in its annual 'State of the Union' debate. The SP delegation in the European Parliament, in the person of group leader Erik Meijer, raised three important subjects in relation to this: labour migration, workers' rights and enlargement of the EU. What is happening in the European Union in relation to these matters? And what are the Dutch government's views on them? Meijer's contribution, in summary, was as follows:

  1. Labour migration is increasing and is making more acute the contrasts between rich and poor and competition between different national groups of workers within the EU. This is because of the much vaunted 'free movement of labour'. It would be better to measure the success of the EU in terms of its capacity to make migration unnecessary. Use EU funds to aid poor regions to become self-supporting, rather than transferring it from one rich area of a rich member state to another. And we could then dispense immediately with EU officials who stick their noses into the policy-making of local and regional authorities.
  2. Collective labour agreements and laws for the protection of workers are under pressure as a result of pressure from other member states. The decisions of European courts are undermining workers' rights. What is the Dutch government doing about this?
  3. While western Europe sees EU enlargement as a source of new problems, in eastern Europe they do not understand this hesitation. Serbia now wants to be a candidate for membership. What are the prospects for Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia?

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