Break the Power of Brussels
Break the Power of Brussels
The SP manifesto for the European elections, May 23rd 2019
1. Your voice will only be heard if you vote
On 23 May we will have the opportunity to vote for our representatives in the European Parliament. Many people simply don't bother, having no faith in this European Union. Yet by staying away from the polling booths, they are simply resigning themselves to the fact that Brussels rules over almost everything in their country. Their votes are thrown away and nobody hears their views, so staying away doesn't solve anything. Yet at these elections a great deal is at stake. The struggle appears to be between europhiles who want to give more power to Brussels, and nationalists who want to turn their backs on European cooperation. These opposing views are equally stupid and both represent a danger to the peace, security and progress for which the EU was once established. In this manifesto we will show you that there is an alternative. We don't want to turn our basks on European cooperation, but reject the domination of Brussels. Vote together for a strong Netherlands in which we decide for ourselves how we cooperate with other countries, and for a form of cooperation in which the interests of the people, of our environment and of animals are the priorities.
European cooperation was once a fine plan. In the wake of the horrors of the Second World, it was intended to maintain peace, promote our wellbeing and protect our social and democratic rights. But now the EU increasingly puts the interests of multinationals, banks and investors before those of the people in its member states. An ever more powerful Brussels plays the boss, on behalf of the elite, over matters which we could run for ourselves. Growing freedom of movement for big capital in a single unified European economic market means diminishing freedom for ordinary people. Shortsighted European standardisation is bought at the cost of the social and democratic rights in our own country, making us all into inhabitants of a powerless province of a European superstate, benefiting the wealthiest 10% and leaving the rest of us out in the cold.
European cooperation could still prove an excellent plan. If the interests of the people were put first, if we could again make our own decisions, in deliberation with others in Europe. About how we want to organise our health care, our social housing, our public transport, our labour market, our national budget and taxation. And if we put an end to the wasteful practices of the EU, such as the unnecessary payments of billions of euros back and forth between the member states and Brussels. If we were no longer to allow taxpayers' money to disappear into the bottomless pit of bureaucracy or the pockets of grasping bankers, polluting corporations or the defence industry. European cooperation would in that case once again be an excellent plan. It's important to work with our neighbours to tackle cross-border problems such as climate change, migration, and tax evasion, to preserve security and maintain freedom. But that won't work if the Netherlands grows weaker and the EU ever more dominant. That's why we need new, fair agreements over how we'll cooperate in the EU, a new European treaty which returns decision-making powers to their rightful place.
In this election manifesto we will show that a vote for the SP is a vote from a strong Netherlands in an EU limited once more to the things it should be doing: contributing to peace, security and progress for everyone, to defending our democratic and social rights. In the Netherlands and in the rest of Europe.
2. Democracy and Sovereignty
Close cooperation between European countries after the war brought a great deal of good. But what began as successful cooperation for the furtherance of peace and wellbeing has in the last few decades been transformed into an undemocratic and bureaucratic monster, undermining national democracy and social rights. Successive Dutch governments have contributed to this process, as a result of which we have less and less control over our own budget, our own economy and our own public sector. Multinationals and banks call the shots, as the unelected European Commission lends big capital a willing ear. It's time things were done differently.
What we want:
- We demand a new treaty in place of the present European treaties, which give Brussels far too much power and in which the multinationals' interests take precedence over those of the people. Democratic control should be organised close to the people. The EU should concern itself only with cross-border problems which require a common approach. The new treaty would hand power back to the member states. It would no longer subordinate social goals and social rights to the logical of the free market and of capital. It would require approval by the Dutch people in a binding referendum, as would any future treaty amendments.
- The Netherlands must control its own budget, its own economic and social policies, and its own pension system, as well as public services, whether publicly or privately owned, a decision in each case to be made by the Dutch people.
- The European Commission in its present form should be abolished. From being a civil service body, the unelected Commission has become much too political and instrument which, with no democratic mandate, contributes to determining the direction and policies of the EU. Such an ideologically motivated body, guided as it is by big capital, should not have the right of initiative, which should instead lie with the member states' democratically elected governments, their parliaments, and the European Parliament. The ridiculous salaries and expenses payments paid to Commissioners and their senior staff should be halved.
- The role of national parliaments must be strengthened. They should be able to censure and remove the Commission as well as call for amendments or absolute rejection of EU proposals. If a third or more of the member states object to a proposal, it should be dropped and an improved proposal brought forward. It should also be possible for member states to opt out of certain EU policies. For example, a country should be able to abandon the euro or limit the borderless movement of goods, services, capital and labour.
- Legislative meetings of the Council of Ministers should be public, enabling people in the member states as well as their parliamentary representatives to monitor who is voting for or against which measures, and what considerations precede their decisions. At the same time, the European Parliament should be brought closer to the people by introducing the possibility of a 'double mandate', enabling MEPs also to be members of their national parliaments. This would give them a better connection with their supporters at home as well as with their nation's politics in general. Of course, a double mandate would not mean a double salary.
- We would put an end to the wasteful and senseless monthly movement of the entire European Parliament from Brussels to Strasbourg, making Brussels its sole seat. The ludicrously high expenses payments would be greatly reduced and subject to receipting.
- We would restrict the lobbying power of major corporations. We would demand that meetings between lobbyists and Commissioners, Members of the European Parliament and the staff of the two institutions be made fully transparent, so that we'd know who's meeting with whom. And we would put and end to the revolving door through which EU officials and Commissioners move, after leaving the service, move rapidly into jobs on corporate industry from which they can influence their former colleagues, while lobbyists and corporate personnel go to work for the Commission. A cooling off period of three years should elapse during which Commissioners and EU officials may not work for the sector with which their work at the institution was connected.
- The so-called 'expert groups' which advise the Commission on particular policy areas have no democratic mandate but a great deal of influence. EU legislative proposals regularly come directly from these groups, which often consist predominantly of representatives of big business. Insofar as expert groups are needed, they must be composed in a more balanced fashion, including for example trade unionists.
- Intense European cooperation makes it imperative that people and firms throughout the EU are able to count on a rule of law free of corruption and discrimination. These are supposed to be embodied by what are known as the Copenhagen Criteria, but these are poorly enforced. Compliance should be subject to rigorous testing of candidates for membership, and periodically monitored after a state has been accepted. Sanctions, such as suspension from judicial cooperation, fines or in extreme cases suspension of voting rights and temporary expulsion could be imposed.
- The EU must accede to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), an instrument of the Council of Europe, the most important body when it comes to upholding and protecting the democratic rule of law, in part through its judicial apparatus, the the European Court of Human Rights.
- Whistleblowers deserve sound protection. Abuses should not be ignored. Protection of whistleblowers who expose fraud or abuse of power in EU institutions must be strengthened through the creation of a centre in which such people can be protected and, if necessary, offered financial and legal support.
- European cooperation is valuable and clearly involves costs, yet the EU need not be so expensive. Reducing waste and unnecessary spending can contribute to this, and with the withdrawal of a member state, the multi-annual budget lowering the multi-annual budget set for 2021 could be reduced. A smaller EU means a smaller budget. We will work for steep reductions in the agricultural funds and restrict the availability of the cohesion fund to the poorest regions and to practical plans. In the event of fraud, money must be refunded. These measures would free up finance for policy areas for which the EU can really add value, such as climate, migration and judicial cooperation.
- The EU does not need its own independent financial resources. European institutions function in order to make cooperation possible and are consequently financed via remittances from the member states. Proposals for 'European taxes' must therefore be rejected.
3. An end to market fundamentalism
The complete removal of borders, and of any limits to the internal market, the workers' rights, environmental demands, our welfare state and our provision of public services must continually cede ground. Under pressure from Brussels, many things are being commercialised, via privatisation, liberalisation and deregulation, including rail, postal services and the energy sector. Since the 1990s the EU has become a giant liberalisation machine in which everything possible is done to enlarge 'the market'. The consequence is social dumping, and increasing pressure on the welfare state and the hard-won rights of working people. Ten years on, after, Brussels turns out to have learnt little from the financial crisis. The common market, established as a means to increase together our prosperity, has become an end in itself.
That's why we need to put an end to the freedom of big companies and banks to clear away 'obstacles' such as democracy and the freedom of people. We want a human scale EU instead of continual increases of scale, with bigger and bigger firms with ever fewer rules imposed on them. We say 'no' to a neoliberal market in which major corporations are given a free hand, and yes to a common market which promotes prosperity, protects the rights of workers and consumers, recognises the rights of animals, takes care of the environment and makes room for job-creating growth in small and medium-sized firms.
What we want:
- Limits must be placed on the internal market via a new treaty which puts an end to internal market dogma and the subordination of national legislation and national policies, social rights and environmental demands to 'free' movement.
- In relation to the transport of goods the interests of people, animals and the environment must be protected. Regulation must prioritise safety and quality, guaranteeing the rights of consumers.
- We would put a stop to the liberalisation of public services and utilities, giving member states the right to decide how those services are carried out. Brussels will no longer be able to overturn democratic decisions by citing the internal market, and will keep its hands off social housing, public transport, education and pensions.
- The EU should encourage countries to cooperate as a counterweight to the power of the pharmaceutical industry, enabling prices of medication to be reduced, stimulating public research into new products and undermining the monopoly position enjoyed by Big Pharma.
- Public tendering by local and regional authorities must be able to take social and ecological needs into account, including long-term considerations, and not merely the price .It should be possible to use regional providers instead of having always to tender across the whole EU.
- The proposed revision of the Notification Directive, which obliges local authorities to seek the approval of the European Commission for any proposal which affects the free movement of services must be dropped as representing a serious infringement of local democratic decision-making.
- Borderless, unlimited movement of labour within the EU is disruptive, leading to the emptying of some countries and the uprooting of communities, while in the host countries it puts employers in the driving seat and intensifies competition between workers. Movement of workers could be regulated by work permits in the event surplus migration into sectors of the labour market. Employers should be obliged to show that they have a definite need for workers from other member states, and to ensure that they pay equal pay for equal work, and that the same social charges are imposed on all employees. Deduction of such payments in the country of origin can led to unfair competition and should be stopped.
- Work permits, for example in the building sector, should be granted only to workers who satisfy Dutch skill standards. In sectors where strict safety standards are necessary, such as building, workers and contractors must be able to communicate effectively in Dutch and/or English.
- Drivers of trucks and of touring cars have a right to decent working conditions, including guaranteed rest periods, and equal pay for equal work. Recent proposals from the European Commission will benefit big transport firms and do nothing to improve working conditions for drivers.
- Movement of capital, especially financial capital, must be restricted. A transaction tax should be collected by the member states to the benefit of their national budgets. All forms of disruptive, speculative capital must be subject to strict regulation.
- The power of investment funds, hedge-funds and comparable forms of speculative capital must be greatly restricted.
- Banks don't need to operate on a European scale. Member states should be given the power to prevent mergers and takeovers. The interconnectedness of banks should be as far as possible phased out through the European Central Bank (ECB). Member states should be given the power to create a full reserve bank offering a basic service for the payment of taxes and for secure saving.
- Plans for a Capital Markets Union must be dropped. Pensions must not become an insurance product and bad debts should be written off, not packaged and traded. The ECB should make additional means available for loans to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
- Instead of encouraging it, we should work together in the EU to reduce shareholder capitalism. Employees should have control within their own firms over mergers, takeovers and strategic decisions. Profit-sharing should be possible. EU legislation must not stand in the way of these measures.
- Internet giants such as Google and Facebook must pay their fair share in taxes. We want to see international agreements on this, but we are opposed to the EU levying and collecting the revenues.
- Member states should agree a minimum rate of company tax, avoiding a race to the bottom. They should work together to end tax evasion.
- The EU must not sign any new trade treaties which give more rights to investors, such as multinationals. The trade treaty with Canada, CETA, which does just that, prioritising their interests over the public good, must be cancelled. It gives foreign investors the right, via special courts to which domestic firms and individuals have no access, to demand enormous compensation for damages if they can establish that national legislation, for example a strong environmental policy, compromises their 'rights' as investors. This is clearly absurd.
- Earlier proposals for a trade and investment treaty with the United States, the TTIP, should not be brought back. America's probable trade wars are stupid and dangerous but there is no reason to sign risky trade treaties with other countries, such as Singapore and Japan, which again principally benefit big capital.
4. The euro, economic governance and social rights
The introduction of the euro was an historic error. It was supposed to ensure that European economies grew closer together, but instead the opposite occurred. The euro exacerbated the global financial crisis. Greece and other Mediterranean countries were threatened by bankruptcy and had to be 'saved' with hundreds of billions of euros. In reality these countries, but in reality they were pushed deeper into the abyss by imposed austerity and it was the French and German banks who were saved from the consequences of their irresponsible loans. And the Dutch taxpayer can forget ever seeing this money returned. What many economists warned when it was announced has come to pass: a single currency for such diverse countries doesn't work. In the end the euro has no future. So the way must be opened to alternatives. As long as we have the euro, however, the Economic and Monetary Union must be democratised and the regime of imposed austerity abolished. A eurozone budget will lead to northern countries having to pay for financial problems in souther member states, while plans for a European Stability Mechanism designed to enable states and banks to be rescued, would unavoidably lead to the further undermining of national sovereignty. A European Finance Minister who would review national budgets and share out European taxes would destroy any support for the single currency.
What we want:
- A plan for the controlled unbundling of the euro is essential. Another crisis would bring about its collapse. Countries such as Italy and Greece which pay a high economic price for their membership in the eurozone would find things easier of they were able to abandon the euro in an orderly fashion should they wish to do so. The eurozone must not be further enlarged, and the obligation to introduce the euro must be abolished.
- The power of the financial sector must be irrevocably reduced. Countries are used by credit agencies and the financial markets to speculate. At European level the Netherlands should use its power and influence to resist such speculative 'valuations' of currencies and countries. EU member states should have the power to limit incoming and outgoing capital flows when they present unacceptable risks to the stability of the financial system.
- Member states must be allowed to place demands on investments by multinationals, including insisting that profits made in their countries must be invested there.
- The ECB should be accountable to the European Parliament and to the national governments controlled by national parliaments in the Council, which should also have the power to instruct the Bank. The appointment procedure for the ECB executive should be transparent and take more account of the Bank's social role. ECB executives should no longer be permitted to at the same time be members of the international banking lobby and similar groups. The European Court of Auditors must be given access to the ECB to ensure the correctness of its actions.
- An end must be put to the backroom politics in the decision-making around the euro. As long as the powerful eurogroup of ministers exists, its decision-making must be transparent and open to monitoring by national parliaments. Implementation of monetary policy should as far as possible be in national hands. Insofar as the ECB in the framework of its monetary policy pumps money into the economy, member states themselves should how and on whom the money is spent, for example via national investment banks. Eurozone countries should be given more space to invest in their economies, including by means of temporary deficits.
- The stability and growth pact must be transformed while the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance agreed between the member states in order to make pressure to impose austerity permanent must be rejected by the Netherlands. In place of the neoliberal straitjacket of the existing budgetary rules should be a coordinated macro-economic policy on the basis of equality between member states and with no pressure from above. Not only budgetary deficits will be monitored, but also trade surpluses and deficits. Major surpluses, such as that of the Netherlands, are undesirable, because one country's surplus is another country's debt mountain, while a country which is too directed towards exports means a country that neglects domestic demand, which is to say its people's purchasing power.
For an EU of social rights
Brussels now tells us not only how much to spend but what we should spend it on. We should be making these decisions for ourselves. And we should not be addressing the social problems which the internal market creates through as European social policy, but by putting restrictions on borderless free movement of capital and labour. A more social EU would mean above all an EU which interferes less in our national democracy and allows us to make our own choices for a more social Netherlands.
It would be good to see agreements which ensure that fundamental social rights are protected throughout the EU. Unemployment across Europe remains far too high, and many people are poor despite having work, even in the Netherlands. Problems of poverty and social exclusion won't be solved by handing social policy to Brussels. What we do need are agreements to prevent social dumping and end the race to the bottom.
What we want:
- An end must be put to EU economic governance, which is aimed at furthering austerity and other neoliberal policies while it undermines national democracy. Countries should have the freedom to conduct their own financial-economic and social-economic policies.
- The European Semester, which obliges member states to present the European Commission with their budgetary plans within so-called national stability and reform programmes so that the Commission can tell them how to improve their 'reforms' should be abolished.
- The EU should give every member state the space to conduct its own strong social policy which should not be undermined in the name of the internal market. Social policy must remain a national matter, as must employment policy and pensions.
- The EU must sign up to the Council of Europe's Social Charter. That would be a better way to give the EU a social pillar.
- Every worker in the EU has a right to a decent wage and every person has the right to a decent existence. Countries should not be competing with each other as to who can pay the lowest wages. Agreements should be made at European level over minimum wages, which in some member states don't even exist. The SP supports the struggle of European trade unions for a lovable minimum wage in every member state.
5. Agriculture, nature, wholesome food and animal welfare
Food should be wholesome, healthy, affordable and safe, but it should also be produced with respect for animals and the environment. Because the EU has a single agricultural market, a European policy is in this case necessary. Such cooperation offers the opportunity to make European agriculture greener and more sustainable, ensuring that what ends up on our plates meets our demands. But to achieve this the existing Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will have to be transformed.
A third of the overall EU budget goes on farm subsidies. Once aimed at guaranteeing food security, these now contribute to an industrial, large-scale agriculture at the expense of the consumer, the environment and animal welfare, encouraging overproduction, fraud and waste. Furthermore the money is unfairly distributed, with only 20% of farmers receiving 80% of the subsidies. Monoculture and pesticide use have led to the mass dying-off of insects, including bees, while ever more bird species are threatened with extinction and biodiversity is decreasing across the board.
Instead of an agricultural sector aimed at the world market, we want to see a sustainable, regional farm system in which our farmers produce as much of our food as possible at a price which is fair to all.
What we want:
- The CAP must turn away from the goal of expanding production and towards regional food supply which doesn't harm the environment. EU farm subsidies should be phased out in favour of national, green subsidies, over a length of time which gives farmers he chance to adapt. A first major step would be to impose a maximum subsidy per farm. Until farm subsidies are ended completely, we should be using them principally to combat the ecological crisis in Europe. They should therefore be granted only under strict, green conditions, contributing to ecological and animal friendly production or leading to investments in landscape management. Surplus production of dairy products, eggs and meat should be avoided and such surpluses should no longer be bought up.
- No more EU research money should be spent on the further intensification of industrial agriculture or the livestock industry. Instead, the available budget should be spent on research into organic, animal-friendly and sustainable production methods.
- Member states should have the freedom to ensure that their own farmers and market gardeners receive a fair price for their products by limiting the power of major buyers such as supermarkets and food processors.
- The use of agricultural poisons and artificial fertilisers should be greatly reduced, and those such as glyphosate, which pose a threat to human health, removed from the market. Henceforth only products for which irrefutable proof exists that they will not damage people, animals or nature should be allowed on to the European market. The precautionary principle will from now on always be put before commercial interests.
- The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is far too dependent on industry for its information. It must be reformed to remove the influence of the chemical industry and agro-industry. The reformed EFSA should exercise strict surveillance over the safety of our food.
- The introduction of genetically manipulated crop plants and other genetically manipulated organisms (GMOs) must be banned. Patents on plant species pose a risk to human health and the environment while filling the coffers of the multinationals and should also be forbidden. Member states must retain the right to exclude GMOs, as well as the power to decide whether and under what conditions research into GMOs can take place.
- Speculation in food and other agricultural products must be severely restricted within the EU. A small group of speculators grows rich on the fruits of other people's labour, especially that of people in developing countries, driving up food prices and undermining food security.
- EU policy should aim at restoring the balance between agriculture and nature. The most important nature reserves in Europe, those which form part of the , Natura 2000 network, should be strengthened and as far as possible linked with each other.
- Intensive, large-scale livestock farms must be phased out. EU legislation relating to animal welfare should be strengthened. An end must be put to the transport of animals under appalling condition and over enormous distances. Henceforth transport of livestock should be limited to four hours.
- European requirements relating to animal welfare should also apply to imported foodstuffs. This means, for example, that eggs from battery farms can no longer be imported. All forms of animal rearing aimed at extremely rapid growth must be banned both within the EU and as a source of imported foodstuffs.
- Use of laboratory animals should be kept to an absolute minimum on the basis of strict tests of social needs and medical relevance. Where alternatives are available, their use must be compulsory, and further research into such alternatives should be supported.
- The Common Fisheries Policy is necessary if we are to prevent European seas from being emptied of fish. Fish quota should be designed to give endangered species the chance to recover. The EU must end the practice of signing treaties with developing countries which enable European factory ships to empty their waters of fish for a pittance.
- The EU must work towards a global ban on whale hunting and ban the transport of whale meat through its ports.
6. Time for climate justice and a clean environment
Climate change and environmental pollution don't stop at borders. That's why countries in Europe and globally must cooperate closely to counter them. The EU can play a major role in bringing this about. The biggest corporations in the world and in Europe are also the biggest polluters, which contribute the most to greenhouse gas emissions. Instead of making the people pay the bill as is now the case, we need to tackle the big polluters, on the principle that the polluter pays. That's what we call 'climate justice'. This also implies that we have to end the economy's dependence on fossil fuels. The EU's plans for a single energy market, in which the logic of the market ans the profits of multinationals are the priorities, will take us further away from a just and effective energy policy.
What we want:
- The Netherlands should take the lead in the EU when it comes to climate justice. In the Paris Agreement the EU signed up to work to limit global warming to a maximum of 2°C and to strive for 1.5°C. To achieve this, the targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 must be raised. We want a CO2-neutral society by 2050. The targets for sustainable energy and energy conservation must be tightened. A definite condition for a just climate policy is that the benefits and obligations of this must be fairly shared out. Climate measures must not lead to a widening of social inequality. The greatest costs should be charged to the biggest polluters.
- The Emissions Trading System (ETS) is ineffective and should be abandoned and replaced by a CO2 tax introduced by each of the member states at or above the level of a European minimum rate. As long as the ETS continues, no further free pollution rights should be distributed and a minimum price per tonne must be imposed and the emission ceilings lowered. Revenue from a CO2 tax would be used to counter the negative financial consequences for those on low- and middle incomes and to increase investment in energy saving and sustainable energy.
- The European economy must replace investment in fossil fuels with investment in sustainable energy. False solutions such as most biofuels should be ended. CO2 storage is expensive and unreliable and must be abandoned.
- The EU must do much more towards the greening of transport, Air and sea transport must be included in the EU carbon targets. Kerosene must be subject to taxation. Emission standards in the car industry must be tightened and much more strongly enforced.
- Maximum levels for noise as well as for other polluting gasses such as Nox must also be lowered. Better rail services should provide an affordable alternative to air travel.
- The risks of nuclear energy and the resulting waste are unacceptable. With the exception of applications for medical purposes and research, it should be rejected, and existing nuclear power stations closed as quickly as possible.
- The European Energy Union, with which attempts are being made to create a single European energy market in which the energy giants would have free play, should be rejected. We want cooperation, not marketisation. This should include cross-border links between national electricity grids to even out the peeks and troughs of sustainable energy production. EU legislation should be amended to promote the connection of the most sustainable means of production to the grid and avoid power cuts. The Netherlands should have the possibility to create, together with other northern European countries, a regional public utility company to promote the most cost-efficient energy supply.
- We want to see strong European cooperation to make an ambitious environmental policy possible. An effective approach to environmental problems demands a more aggressive policy aimed at higher standards, with stricter enforcement. The Netherlands must adhere more closely to European environmental agreements, instead of calling for derogations which benefit sectional interests in industry and agriculture at the expense of the rest of us.
- The criminal practice of dumping of waste must be tackled aggressively through cooperation between environmental inspectorates, police forces and customs officers via the international cooperation programme inIMPEL Polluters must be denied any opportunity to profit from getting rid of their waste or by moving it abroad.
- 400,000 people die prematurely in the EU every year as a result of foul air. European standards of air quality must be brought into line with those of the WHO.
- Policy on toxic substances must be strengthened and the use of dangerous chemicals, such as endocrine disruptors and pesticides greatly reduced and the precautionary principle applied in case of any applications for approval of potentially dangerous substances.
- Medical implants and aids must be subject to strict testing under the aegis of the European Medical Agency.
- The consumer market must be made more sustainable by the strengthening of demands on products, including improved energy-efficiency, which should be assessed in relation to energy use throughout the life-cycle of the device or vehicle in question. These demands should be automatically adapted to the latest technical developments.
- Energy use should also be lowered by ensuring that products are as far as possible reusable and repairable.
- Monitoring of water management must be improved and standards raised. Countries should be obliged to cooperate so that, for example, downstream countries such as the Netherlands don't lose out as a result of withdrawals in upstream countries.
7. For a just asylum policy
Thousands of people die every year in the Mediterranean Sea, as they try to cross to Europe in rickety boats, in search of a place of refuge or a better life. This tragedy is a disgrace to the EU.
It's a scandal that war refugees from Syria are stuck in huge centres in Greece, waiting endlessly for their asylum procedure.
A well as people fleeing war and violence, people from elsewhere try to enter the EU to find work, often attempting to use the asylum procedure to do so. On refusal, they disappear into illegality, prey to exploiters who use them to undermine the social rights of other workers, That's bad for everyone, especially the migrants, and it must be stopped. For that reason we have to address the basic reasons which motivate people to leave their homes in search of work. Our country must be fervent in defence of peace and security across the globe so that people are not force to migrate in search of a decent life.
What we want:
- Everything possible must be done to address the causes of mass migration and streams of refugees. Military interventions which destroy societies must stop. We must fight against unfair trade, for stricter rules governing the export of arms, and for a just climate policy.
- We maintain our commitment to the UN Convention on Refugees and oppose any EU policy which is in conflict with it. We must give special attention to the position of children. European asylum policy, in keeping with the Convention on Refugees, means that asylum seekers may not be returned to a country in which they would be in danger. Refugees who cannot be accommodated safely close to their own countries should be offered a safe haven. We must improve security for LGBTI asylum-seekers.
- Refugees who are granted asylum will be expected to participate fully in our society, and we will ensure that this is possible, providing quality language learning, enabling everyone to learn Dutch.
- We will work towards improving European cooperation on asylum and migration and for an effective approach to the problems linked to current levels of migration into the EU, principally from Africa and the Middle East. Monitoring the EU's external borders, putting a stop to people-smuggling and ensuring the proper reception and accommodation of those who have a right to be here, these are common responsibilities of all member states. Border-monitoring doesn't mean creating a Fortress Europe. The common surveillance of the Mediterranean – Frontex – just be aimed at reducing the number of deaths which occur in the crossing. People aiding refugees must not be treated as criminals.
- Large-scale, unregulated labour migration is undesirable. It would be better to work towards a sustainable future of work and prosperity in those countries where hopelessness prevails. We don't want to cause a brain drain in poorer countries and downward pressure on wages in the Netherlands.
- Most refugees want to get home as soon as it's safe. The Netherlands should set an example by working on an international level to provide more resources for a decent reception and a greater chance of return.
- We don't want to see people drown, or risk their lives to reach Europe, which is why we should be open to agreements with countries outside the EU to organise reception, accommodation and the asylum procedure in people's own region. These agreements must meet international standards, including of course in relation to human rights. In this the UNHCR could specify which people could not be rehoused safely in their own region, in which case they could be admitted to the EU and the Netherlands. People granted asylum could then be transported here safely, while those refused would not need to risk their lives crossing the sea to find that out.
- All agreements with third countries must be in keeping with international law. We should reject all migration agreements which are not, such as the recent deal with Turkey. We condemn the present inhuman conditions on the Greek islands and call on the EU to take its responsibility and make efforts to improve these condition and at the same time arrange a fair distribution of refugees among the member states. Refugees and other migrants picked up at sea must not be sent back to unsafe countries.
- The Dublin Regulation, under which the country in which an asylum-seeker arrives in the EU is responsible for processing his or her application, can no longer be maintained. Countries with long external borders have to deal with large numbers of asylum-seekers are unable or unwilling to offer them protection. It is therefore essential to establish European centres for asylum-seekers where they can await the swift result of a fair procedure. Successful applicants should then be distributed fairly among the member states, with the Netherlands taking a proportionate share and the EU employing a financial 'carrot and stick' to ensure that others do the same.
8. Combating crime, defending security and privacy
Criminals don't let national borders hinder them. That's why we need sound cooperation within the EU in detecting and tackling cross-border crime.
This goes for the fight against terrorism, too. Intelligence service in Europe must improve their cooperation in the detection and surveillance of terrorist networks.
The mass collection of personal data is not only undesirable, but also ineffective. It's also important that the rules of the democratic state of law, which are precisely the target of extremist groups, are constantly upheld. Cooperation in these areas is good, but detection and enforcement remain primarily a matter for the member states. A European legal apparatus would not be properly subject to the necessary democratic controls, being too remote from the people it would need to protect.
What we want:
- The removal of border controls between member states has made it easier for criminals to be active in more than one country. In response, countries must cooperate to combat crime. The EU, however, is going too far when it comes to collection of citizens' personal date and exchanging it with countries outside Europe. The undirected collection of data on all travellers (PNR) is ineffective and should be abolished.
- Judicial cooperation must take place on the basis of common agreements. The EU should not in general interfere in the criminal law. There remain enormous differences among the legal systems of the various member states, so it would not be prudent to proceed on the basis of mutual confidence. In order to arrive at a point where we can indeed do so, efforts must first be made to lay down minimum rights for accused persons.
- The Netherlands must quit the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO), which represents a further step towards the dismantling of national sovereignty. Until this happens, we should reject any further enlargement of its powers, and any participation must not be at the expense of our national detection, pursuit and prosecution capacities.
- The European Arrest Warrant (EAW) in its present form offers unsatisfactory guarantees of the rights of suspects following their extradition to another member state. The Netherlands should consistently test for guarantees of a fair trial in case of any request for extradition. Citizens of a member state detained in another EU country must have access to legal counsel. The EAW must be used only in the case of serious crimes, as was intended.
- Equal rights for all should be a principle in all member states. Men and women should receive equal treatment and equal pay. Minorities have the right to equal treatment. LGBTI people must be protected against discrimination and violence. The anti-discrimination directive, first proposed in 2008, must be adopted. And the rights of same-sex partners and their children who move to a different member state must be recognised.
- The EU must not stand in the way of a possible decision by the Netherlands to legalise soft drugs, which has many advantages over banning them. It is the Netherlands' right to make this decision.
- More must be done to promote cooperation in relation to responding to disasters. We are opposed, however to the creation of a special European unit for this purpose, which would be wasteful.
- Agreements on privacy and data protection are important and need to be regulated at European level. The General Data Protection Regulation does not leave enough space for customisation, however. Henceforth EU laws must take account of their applicability by small operators, associations and public services, while ensuring that the new rules can be overseen by supervisors.
- What's known as the 'right to be forgotten' should be more easily granted on request and backed by effective sanctions.
- Strict conditions should be attached to any storage and exchange of information for judicial and police enquiries, conditions which should be even stricter when EU countries outside Europe are involved. Real grounds for suspicion should form the basis of any such investigations. Large scale storage of information for 'data mining' should be forbidden.
- The 'privacy agreement' or 'privacy shield' between the EU and the US must be suspended as the US does not meet European demands regarding data protection, and the existing accord makes it almost impossible for people in the EU to find out what is being done with their data in the US and who has access to it.
- We want internet that belongs to everyone and where the users' privacy is protected from the state and commercial interests. The guarantees of net neutrality should be reinforced.
- The EU does not need a service to address 'fake news'. In the guise of preventing misinformation, this would restrict freedom of the press. The best safeguards against fake news are a free press, independent journalists and good education, including about modern media.
- We reject the current EU proposals to impose filters on platforms such as You Tube to prevent the display of photographs or film clips covered by authors' rights. We have always defended creative rights, but see no need for such censorship. These upload filters will, moreover, have to be paid for by the authors or their organisations and are so expensive that they will in practice be available only to such as major record labels.
- We are in favour of European cooperation to combat the growing problem of cyber crime.
9. Enlargement, foreign policy and defence
The EU has grown too big. We have always warned about too rapid an enlargement which brings in countries which simply aren't yet ready. We can see this in countries such as Poland and Hungary and their lack of respect for the democratic rule of law. We are critical of the existing EU because of the limits it places on national democracy, but we see little advantage in cooperating in an EU in which many member states are no longer democratic.
Democracy is under pressure throughout the world. Instead of cooperation on the basis of international agreements and common interests, self-interest appears to be winning out. The world is rapidly changing. In this context of growing international instability, we hear ever louder calls for the EU to have its own defence forces. We completely oppose any such move. The answer to destabilisation, the politics of military might can only offer more of the same, while a European military industrial complex is the last thing that the Netherlands or Europe needs. It's good if the EU member states cooperate over foreign policy, but they should do so in order to further the cause of human rights, fair distribution and a strengthening of the international legal order, not to strive for a United States of Europe that would grow into a military power bloc. And Europe must also not enrich itself on the backs of developing countries but instead give priority to international solidarity.
What we want:
- No further enlargement of the EU for the foreseeable future. The Balkan countries are far from ready for membership. In any future accessions the Copenhagen Criteria must be strictly applied. Candidate member states which do not meet these demands for a stable and well-functioning democratic state of law aren't welcome, nor will they be allowed to sign the kind of far-reaching association accord such as occurred recently in the case of Ukraine. These are good for neither the country itself, nor for the EU.
- Foreign policy should remain in the first place a national responsibility. The EU should member states should work together to further human rights and strengthen the international legal order and, where we are able to agree, such as in the case of climate policy, present a common standpoint in the international context.
- Especially in times of dangerously increasing geopolitical conflicts, the EU should be doing all in its power to preserve peace and security. Militarisation of the EU is in complete conflict with this. National democracies should always and exclusively organise their own defence, with armed forces under national democratic control. The EU must not follow NATO's example of becoming a globally operating aggressive intervention force. Military interventions by member states should only be allowed with a mandate from the UN. The European Defence Fund, which subsidises an already profitable European arms industry, must be abolished, the development of armed drones ended, and any militarisation of the European Space Agency rejected in favour of civilian cooperation in space research and space technology.
- The EU must work towards global peace and disarmament. International nuclear weapons treaties stand now under massive pressure, and all EU members states should be working to preserve these treaties. By acceding to the UN treaty banning nuclear weapons, the EU member states could take an important step towards a Europe free of nuclear arms.
- In cooperating with other countries, human rights must come before business or geopolitical interests. In the coming period in the European Parliament we will pay particular attention to human rights abuses in Turkey (where MPs from the opposition HDP have been imprisoned), Morocco with support for the Hirak Rif and the Western Sahara), and the human rights situation in countries such as the Philippines and Nicaragua.
- An arms embargo should be imposed on countries guilty of large scale human rights abuses or the use of weapons in the committing of war crimes. Such an embargo should be imposed immediately on Saudi Arabia. Western countries which are supplying arms share blame for the dirty war being fought by the Saudis in Yemen and the enormous humanitarian catastrophe this is causing.
- The EU must recognise Palestine and do all in its power to bring an end to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories and the massive abuse of the Palestinian people's human rights by Israel. As long as these abuses continue, the EU's association agreement with Israel must be suspended. Imports from the illegal settlements must be banned.
- The Netherlands must argue strongly at EU level for fair trade. Free trade, as has long been Brussels' philosophy, means above all freedom for big capital at the expense of people, small businesses, the local economy and the environment. The EU must end its attempts to get tariff-free access to developing countries, which undermine sections of the agricultural sector and food security there.
- Developing countries are the major victim of large-scale tax evasion by multinationals. The Netherlands and the EU must make efforts to end this, working with the OECD.
- The Netherlands should retake its leading position in development cooperation, working together with other member states where that demonstrably adds value to the aid from separate EU countries and multilateral organisations such as the UN and the World Bank.
- Developing countries must be able to protect their markets, in particular their agricultural products. It's appalling that the West and various countries in Asia originally developed behind tariff barriers while they now deny this option to the poorest countries,principally in Africa.
- The EU must stop dumping its farm products in developing countries. Dumping of waste in developing countries by European corporations must be punished and ended.
- Europe must support well-functioning international organisations instead of trying to take them over with an arrogant assertiveness. The need for cooperation concerns above all the United Nations and the Council of Europe, in which all European countries are represented.