7 June 2017

European Commission must react quickly to Council of Europe corruption report

Council of Europe anti-corruption network GRECO today presented the results of the fourth evaluation round in its annual report for 2016. What’s striking about this is the criticism of the European Commission’s lax attitude. Commenting on the report, SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong said that “for the umpteenth time the Council of Europe” – not an EU body, but an older and broader inter-governmental organisation concerned largely with human rights and related issues – “calls on the Commission to at last do something about these evaluations. It’s depressing that in regard to such matters no progress has been made. The special contribution from European Ombudsman Emily O´Reilly does in one sense fill this gap, but at the same time has pointed out that the EU institutions’ policies on integrity still leave a lot to be desired. It’s unbelievable that the Commission doesn’t take advantage of GRECO and learn from the experiences of national governments. I’m calling on the Commissioner responsible, the Dutch vice-president Frans Timmermans, to shake the proffered hand of the Council of Europe and cooperate actively around GRECO’s evaluations.”

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7 June 2017

SP success as Parliament condemns plans for EU Public Prosecutor

It’s decided. On a motion proposed by SP Member of Parliament Michiel van Nispen, Parliament today voted not to agree to the Netherlands’ participation in a European Public Prosecutor’s Office. “International cooperation to combat fraud is something which of course I wholeheartedly support,” says Van Nispen. “Unnecessarily giving away control over the priorities of our police and other institutions we completely reject, however. So it’s great news that a parliamentary majority is once again supporting our resistance against the establishment of a European Public Prosecutor.”

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7 June 2017

Protect NGOs and small firms from digital attacks

The SP is proposing the establishment of a Digital Trust Centre to combat the growing stream of digital attacks against firms and social organisations. SP Member of Parliament Maarten Hijink wants to see such a centre cooperating intensively with the Dutch National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC). “For small and medium-sized businesses and social organisations it’s extremely difficult to arm themselves against massive attacks such as occurred recently with ransomware,” Hijink explains. “The Digital Trust Centre would aim to inform people about the risks, but most importantly to detect attacks and offer organisations practical support in keeping their ICT safe in the event of an attack.”

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31 May 2017

Commission proposal would legalise currently illegal practices in road haulage

Foto: fairtransporteurope.eu

SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong can find nothing positive in proposals on road haulage presented today by the European Commission.  “Only a few weeks ago  the Commission presented its ideas on a social Europe,” he recalls. “Obviously these were nothing but fine words. Now it comes down to tackling the exploitation and oppression of truck drivers, the Commission is opting for further liberalisation. In doing so they are proposing to legalise what up until now has been illegal. Drivers can clearly expect nothing from this Commission.”

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30 May 2017

SP votes with the people as Senate overturns referendum result on Ukraine treaty

After the voters had given a clear NO to the Association Agreement between the EU and Ukraine, the Senate has followed Parliament's Lower House in voting to accept the controversial treaty and bring it into force. 'The reason for this was the about-face by the centre-right CDA.,' explains SP Senate leader Tiny Kox. While CDA Lower House leader Sybrand Buma and his colleagues voted to reject the treaty, fearing that to vote against would increase still further the public's cynicism about The Hague and Brussels, most of the Christian Democrats in the Senate voted in favour. 'So Premier Mark Rutte has succeeded in turning a clear NO into a dubious YES. The European Commission will be cheering, but the voters won't,' Kox added.

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29 May 2017

Van Raak: No should mean no

According to the daily newspaper Trouw, I am 'polluting' the discussion of the future of the referendum. That's quite a judgment coming from such a measured newspaper, especially when it's in the editorial column. The reason for it was that I have taken on the proposal for a law introducing a binding referendum. This bill was originally proposed by a combination of Green Left, Labour and D66 and passed by both Houses of Parliament, but had to be given another reading because it required an amendment to the Constitution. In the wake of the 'no' vote in the referendum on the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, these parties suddenly became opponents of the binding referendum and refused even to put what had been their own bill forward once more. In doing so, they were acting contrary to the Constitution.

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26 May 2017

12,000 protest in Brussels against Trump’s war policies

Foto: SP

On the 25th of may Brussels hosted the NATO summit at which amongst the matters discussed was the raising of NATO member states’ defence budgets. Those present included US  President Donald Trump, who on his arrival in Brussels was welcomed by 12,000 people fed up of his war policies. Among them was SP Member of Parliament Sadet Karabulut. “During his election campaign he presented himself as the anti-war candidate, but as with so many election promises this one died the death in the first few months of his presidency,” she said, adding that “one thing is now clear: Trump = war.” 

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23 May 2017

Senate debates Association agreement with Ukraine

Today the Dutch national Senate debated the European Union’s Association Agreement with Ukraine. Below is an edited version of the contribution to the debate of SP Senator Bastiaan van Apeldoorn. The Senate will return to the issue on May 30th when it votes on whether to accept the treaty.  

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21 May 2017

Mineur: People in Sri Lanka deserve more than paper progress

SP Euro-MP Anne-Marie Mineur recently visited Sri Lanka. The Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is an island in the Indian Ocean to the south of India. With a population of 22 million, it relies heavily on its textile and clothing industries, which account for 70% of the country’s exports, with the US as its principle customer and the EU in second place. A war which lasted for years between the Tamil Tigers and the Singhalese-dominated government ended with the Tamil Tigers’ surrender in 2009, but this failed to bring about real peace or equal treatment for Tamil citizens. It was human rights abuses following the surrender which led to suspension by the EU of its special trade relationship with Sri Lanka, known as GSP+. The renewal of GSP+ is being questioned by Sri Lankan textile workers and others who challenge the EU’s claims that workers’ rights have improved.

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