SP: Timmermans’ list has little to commend it

16 December 2014

SP: Timmermans’ list has little to commend it

With a great deal of fuss, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and his right-hand man Frans Timmermans – until recently the Netherlands’ Foreign Minister – today presented the Commission’s new work programme. The SP finds little to commend in this programme, as the leader of the party’s group in the European Parliament, Dennis de Jong, explains. ‘Some fifty-five of the eighty proposals which the Commission has withdrawn were in any case out of date,’ he says. ‘At the same time the Commission is taking new powers to itself with this programme. They do this with the “reform contracts” in the framework of economic governance, in relation to fiscal policy and energy policy, and via the launch of a “capital union”. Moreover the Commission is using its right to withdraw proposals for its own political ends: they will withdraw a proposal if the outcome of negotiations between the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament, who between us decide the final text, doesn’t suit them.’

In past years too, the Commission has withdrawn dozens of proposals which had been overtaken by events, fifty for instance in 2013. So that’s nothing new. The SP of course supports withdrawing these proposals. The same goes for most other proposals, even those which aren’t out of date, such as the artificial increase in the number of baggage handling firms at airports, which the SP has joined unions in fighting against. Harry van Bommel, SP Member of the Netherlands’ national Parliament, says that ‘Timmermans had better get on with withdrawing a lot more proposals. He hasn’t, for instance, taken the 4th rail package off the agenda, which will result in the further marketisation of railway services. Everyone knows that for a country like the Netherlands, chopping up the network of railway lines, and the separation of NS and ProRail have been a fiasco.’

The SP is, however, extremely concerned about the withdrawal of the proposal to tighten up air quality norms. SP Euro-MP Anne-Marie Mineur points out that ‘it’s been scientifically demonstrated that fine dust, and in particular particles of soot, cause the premature death of large numbers of people. By withdrawing this proposal, the Commission is putting at risk, for example, the health of people who live near motorways or arterial roads in major cities. I’m determined to fight the Commission all the way on this when the European Parliament adopts a resolution on the work programme in January.’

You are here