'No consultation without action'

20 October 2009

'No consultation without action'

"If concrete points can be achieved, we'll stay. If it appears to be a talking shop, then there's nothing in it for us." So says Dennis de Jong, leader of the SP delegation in the European Parliament in relation to the 'Oranjeberaad', an informal consultative body which all Dutch MEPs are invited to attend.

Dennis de JongThe 'Oranjeberaad' – literally, Orange Consultation – is an initiative of the centre-right. The idea is to offer a forum in which all Dutch MEPs can meet to consult on possible points upon which common action can be taken. Dennis de Jong saw it as offering an opportunity to put the farcical business of the European Parliament's meeting place on the agenda. Every month, at a cost which runs to around €200 million per annum, the entire parliament decamps from Brussels to Strasbourg. Nothing can be done about this, because the French fear that it will mean a considerable loss of employment in Strasbourg. De Jong proposed a solution to this to the Dutch MEPs gathered in the Oranjeberaad: an alternative, he argued, would be for NATO to move its headquarters from Brussels to Strasbourg on a permanent basis. "A logical solution," De Jong argues, "which would put an end to this idiotic business. Yet every other party wants to maintain Brussels as NATO's HQ, without having any alternative themselves."

A further proposal from De Jong concerned Brussels' 'expert committees'. These powerful bodies meet behind closed doors and consist for the most part in corporate representatives. The SP suggested proposing the Dutch Poldermodel - in which representatives of labour movement organisations and other social groups would balance those of major employers - to the Commission as an alternative. "This would put some restraint on the power exercised by big companies through shady lobbying practices and at the same time give a voice to other interests, such as those of workers and of small and medium-sized enterprises." The 16th of December will see the next meeting of the Oranjeberaad, when the SP's proposals will be discussed.

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