'Brussels should keep its hands off ex-prisoners' work scheme.'

16 April 2009

'Brussels should keep its hands off ex-prisoners' work scheme.'

Dennis de Jong, number one on the SP list for the European elections, finds it "inconceivable" that European Union rules might scupper a social project for ex-prisoners. "Far too many prisoners return to crime on release," De Jong says. "We can combat this by offering then a useful way to fill their day, one which also gives them a way to earn money. Interference from Brussels is making this impossible."

On Thursday Dutch national daily AD reported that 110 former prisoners in Amsterdam stood to lose their jobs on a local authority scheme as a result of an EU directive. The European law means that the service which they offer - safe parking for bicycles - must be put out to tender, giving private firms the right to bid to take the service over. "A scheme which puts people straight out of prison into work is a text book example of how things should be done," De Jong says. "Thanks to the European single market and the fanatical commitment to competition this will be scuppered. Ridiculous."

De Jong argues that, on the contrary, other local authorities should be taking their lead from Amsterdam. "This work scheme offers ex-prisoners something to cling to during a difficult time, full of risks, immediately after they complete their sentence. And it's the Dutch Commissioner, Neelie Kroes, who's responsible. She should keep her hands off."

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