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18 October 2015

Christian Democrats Old Pals’ Act in the eurozone

This week it was announced that, despite having violated all of the agreements on the budget, Spain would receive no punishment. German Christian Democrat Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble was amongst those urging that Spain be given more time. Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, also a Christian Democrat, did everything to prevent a punishment being imposed on Spain. How differently these politicians comported themselves in relation to Greece, which was forced to destroy itself with still more budget cuts in order to reach the targets set. But of course Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras isn’t a Christian Democrat, but rather represents the left slice of the electorate. In my view this is a shameful example of the Old Pals’ Act at work.

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14 October 2015

Big Polluters’ lobby threatens climate conference

Foto: SP

The mass lobby from a number of huge polluters is threatening to undermine the success of the climate conference, known as COP21, to be held in Paris at the end of November. In the latest version of the draft agreement, shipping and air transport do not appear, despite the fact that these sectors together account for no less than 8% of CO2 emissions, a proportion which is moreover growing rather than dwindling. In addition, the proposal to phase out subsidies on fossil fuels has disappeared from the draft text. The SP is calling for maximum openness over the lobby’s role.

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14 October 2015

SP says no to Association Agreement with Ukraine

The referendum on the Association Agreement between the European Union and Ukraine is to go ahead. On Wednesday the Electoral Council announced that, on the basis of a random check, it had been shown that the national Citizens’ Initiative, now institutionalised in Dutch law, had achieved the necessary minimum of 300.000 valid signatures. SP Member of Parliament and spokesman on the EU Harry van Bommel says that the referendum is ‘a splendid chance for citizens to express their views on the future of the EU’.

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13 October 2015

Report on Flight MH17 must lead to safer air travel

Foto: Tom Jutte

SP member of Parliament Harry van Bommel says that he hopes that the report published today by the Research Council on Safety on the crash of flight MH17 can help those left behind by the disaster to deal with their huge loss. ‘Friends and loved ones of the dead have had to wait a long time for their many questions to be answered,’ says Van Bommel. ‘Now we have the report from the Research Council and hopefully this will represent a new step in the healing process.’

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13 October 2015

‘Don’t reduce people to just refugees’

Foto: Martin van Welzen

If you’ve seen the appalling pictures of refugees despairingly trying to get into Europe, you’ll be aware that we have to do something to accommodate them. At the same time the question arises as to whether Europe can cope with this influx and whether the arrival of migrants from other parts of the world – in particular from Islamic countries – will lead to cultural tensions. Professor Leo Lucassen, director of research at the Institute for Social History (IISG) says that ‘fortress Europe means that people are taking enormous risks.’ He was interviewed by Tijmen Lucie for the SP monthly magazine Spanning.

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10 October 2015

Thousands demonstrate against TTIP

Foto: SP

On Saturday thousands of people joined the demonstration against the notorious treaty between the European Union and the United States, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). SP Member of Parliament Jasper van Dijk was one of them, and he addressed the activists on just what was wrong with the TTIP. This is what he told them:

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9 October 2015

‘The European Policy is wrong, that’s the problem’

David Hollanders interviews Dutch economist Joan Muysken.

To combat unemployment we must increase government spending and the buffers which banks are obliged to carry. Prior to this, broad public debate is needed, argues Joan Muysken. Below are the sections of the interview which deal with European issues.

DH: In your valedictory address you stated that free market thinking leads to unemployment and inequality. What did you mean by this exactly?

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6 October 2015

Merkies: measures to counter tax avoidance are totally inadequate

The plans published by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to combat tax avoidance will continue to allow corporations to get away with paying low rates of taxation, says SP Member of Parliament and financial affairs spokesman Arnold Merkies, who also notes that the plans include no solution for the poorest countries, which suffer most as a result of tax avoidance by multinationals.

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5 October 2015

European Commission must make contacts with tobacco lobby public

European Ombudsman Emily O'Reilly today published her recommendations regarding the European Commission’s contacts with the tobacco lobby, calling for a proactive policy under which all meetings and reports on such meetings would be placed on the Commission’s website. Commenting on the recommendations, SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong said: 'Dutch Commissioner Frans Timmermans promised us that he would quickly make the Commission more transparent, but he has also refused up to now to make public all data regarding meetings with the tobacco industry. The Ombudsman has made mincemeat of this position, which she argues is in conflict with the rules established by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The Commission, moreover, should know better. Recently Maltese Commissioner John Dalli had to step down on suspicion of corruption related to the tobacco industry. Furthermore, the Commission works closely with the tobacco industry to combat cigarette smuggling. So there’s every reason to publish all such contacts on the Commission’s website, as the Ombudsman asks them to do.’

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