Dennis de Jong: A more social Europe with parties of the left

6 September 2012

Dennis de Jong: A more social Europe with parties of the left

During an election debate held in Brussels SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong insisted that only a government of the left, with the SP, the Labour Party and the Green Left as its core, could bring about a social Europe. De Jong: ‘People in the Netherlands get only bad news from Brussels. They fear for their wages and pensions, and are concerned about interference in our system of health care. These fears are well-founded, moreover. Look at what’s happening in Greece, where the minimum wage must be lowered once more and even the introduction of a six-day week is being imposed. Only a left government will look for ways to cooperate to change course and, for example, work towards agreements on the introduction of a minimum wage throughout Europe, proportional to national incomes.’

The real debates surrounding the Dutch election are taking place in the Netherlands, of course, but in Brussels on 4th September the leaders of most Dutch parties’ European Parliament delegation met head-to-head. Around two hundred people turned up, almost all of them earning their corn, whether directly or indirectly, via the European institutions, and thus by definition hardly a Eurocritical public. Of the invited political parties only Geert Wilders’ PVV, as is so often the case, failed to appear, though the centre-right liberals of the governing VVD were represented not by a MEP, but by a member of the party’s team in the national parliament in The Hague. The debate made it clear that the Labour Party, the centre-right Christian Democrats (the VVD’s partners in government), the centrist D66 and the Green Left were at one as far as the European Union is concerned, wanting to continue the process of transferring powers to Brussels. The VVD is less clear about this, while the SP is the only party that stands unequivocally for a social Netherlands and against interference from Brussels

De Jong took the opportunity to argue for a social Europe where not everything comes down to finance and it isn’t only the multinationals’ agenda which is implemented. Labour, the Green Left and D66 expressed agreement with De Jong that the crisis is more than financial, that it is also a social crisis. People who already have it tough have been the hardest hit. This was also the criticism levelled by De Jong at the promotional film put out by the Dutch employers’ organisation, the VNO-NCW. ‘The film only tells half the story,’ he complained. ‘What the Netherlands gains from Europe comes straight to the richer Dutch people, while ordinary people have been left behind. That has been demonstrated by recent studies from the Swiss banking group UBS. No wonder the euro isn’t very popular amongst ordinary people.’

De Jong also spoke out against the federalist views of D66 and the Green Left. ‘A naïve belief in Europe is dangerous, in view of the way that banks and multinationals and their lobbyists have ruled over the EU in the last twenty-five years and the EU has served their interests above all,’ he said. ‘That doesn’t mean that the SP is against Europe. We are for cooperation and annoyed with the mess that Rutte and De Jager’ – respectively Prime Minister and Finance Minister – ‘have made of this. De Jager’s tough talk has ensured that the Netherlands has made no friends in Southern Europe and because the Prime Minister has not put any distance between himself and the “Polen meldpunt”’ – a website set up by the hard right PVV to encourage people to report alleged offences and nuisances involving Polish migrant workers in the Netherlands - ‘he has also made enemies of Central and Eastern European countries. It’s high time for a charm offensive, otherwise we’ll never achieve anything and will for example encounter major problems when the time comes to renegotiate our net payments to the EU. The Netherlands can then certainly forget the existing reduction of a billion euros a year.”

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