The last word

21 February 2019

The last word

On 23rd February, the SP party council elected the new lead candidate for the list which the party will put forward at the European elections in May. Although the European Parliament will continue in its present composition until 2nd July when the newly elected MEPs are installed, this seems to me a good moment to bring these monthly Tribune columns to a close. From now on the campaign must be to the fore.

Ten years in the European Parliament is a long time, a very long time. They have been exceptionally fine years, above all because of my colleagues in 'Team Brussels' and to the party branches where I was always guaranteed an absorbing discussion during the regular 'Europe evenings'. The European Parliament might sometime be jokingly referred to as the 'Siberia of the SP', but for all that it's agreeably warm.

We have not in our ten years been able to break the power of Brussels. This can largely be blamed on government leaders, such as our own prime minister Mark Rutte. EU-critical in the Netherlands, but as in his speech to the European Parliament last year, deapite that also enamoured of the European Parliament’, which is simply voted in favour of every extension of its power. This makes sense, because the EU has, throughout these years, useful as a means of imposing the neoliberal agenda on all of the member states. A better ally the VVD, our leading and currently governmental neoliberal party, could scarcely imagine. On the pack it said Rutte had no 'vision', but all the time he was surreptitiously voting for more Brussels.

The European Parliament itself is scarcely above criticism. A permanent europhile majority has encouraged the European Commission to take more powers on board. Nevertheless, even in that enormous institution it was possible to register a few partial successes, sometimes by resistsing the worst excesses of market-think, or by forcing the corporate lobby into greater transparency, or by improving the position of consumers and small firms in the face of big capital.

With my intended successor, Arnout Hoekstra, I've already spent some time, and it's unbelievable how quickly he has managed to get down to work. And with the team that Anne-Marie Mineur and I will soon be leaving behind, things are also in good shape. That's why I can say with confidence that they haven't seen the last of the SP in the European Parliament. Far from it.

Dennis de Jong had been chair of the SP group in the European Parliament for the last decade. This article first appeared, in the original Dutch, in SP monthly Tribune in February 2019.


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