20 February 2018

Campaign for openness in the European Union

On Monday, SP Member of Parliament Renske Leijten, together with fellow MPs Pieter Omtzigt of the centre-right CDA and Martin van Rooijen from seniors' party 50PLUS handed a letter to Eurogroup chair Mario Centeno containing a plea for more openness from the EU Council of Ministers and the Eurogroup of twenty-six parliaments from twenty member states. They want to see documents relating to decision-making in the two bodies made public and to be given access to voting figures. “The thrust of our argument is clear,” says Leijten. “The EU Council of Ministers is too much of a 'black box' for national MPs. It's never clear how negotiations are going or how the agenda has been arrived at.”

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20 February 2018

Mahir Alkaya speaks in the European Parliament on Brexit and the EU budget

On Tuesday I was in Brussels for the so-called 'European Parliamentary Week', in order to discuss, with MPs from other member states, the Multi-Annual Financial Framework, or MFF. This is the EU's multi-annual accounts book, and discussion around it has exploded in the wake of Brexit. I was permitted to close the conference with a speech. So what did I say? Well, that when a member state leaves the EU, as the British have decided to do, this doesn't mean that other countries such as the Netherlands should not be expected automatically to pick up the slack created by the loss of the UK contribution. In Brussels they want all member states to help make up the gap. But when you decide to go out with four friends for the evening and everyone contributes €20 to the kitty, the kitty simply gets smaller if someone cries off. Yet the other three don't need to increase their contribution to ensure that everyone can drink just as much as they could before.

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15 February 2018

Mark Rutte wants to know all about you, but doesn’t want to listen to your views

What will Interior Minister Kajsa have seen when she looked in the mirror this morning? A politician belonging to centrist liberals D66 who has sold her soul to have her own ministry?  Or one of Prime Minister Mark Rutte's hench(wo)men, who wants to deprive citizens of a democratic right, without people being given any chance to have a say in the decision? In 1848, the first liberal premier Johan Rudolf Thorbecke introduced direct elections, while under a later liberal premier, Pieter Cort van der Linden, in 1917, we saw the introduction of universal manhood suffrage.  Today, however, liberal Prime Minister Mark Rutte wants to abolish a democratic right, by putting an end to referenda. Rutte is not prepared to defend the measure himself in Parliament; the job will be left to his right-hand woman, Kajsa Ollongren. This is a dark day for democracy, a day on which citizens will be deprived of a democratic right. And why? What have people done wrong? We said 'no', in a referendum on the European Union-Ukraine Association Agreement. Just once, we said 'no' to our own government; against the interests of the multinationals and of the Europhiles in Brussels. Just once, we said ‘no’ on behalf of our own democracy, so we must now be punished. That's why an end must apparently be put to the referendum as quickly as possible.

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8 February 2018

Left cooperation against modernisation of Netherlands-based nuclear bomb

SP Member of Parliament Sadet Karabulut, together with fellow MPs from the Green Left and the PvdA (Labour Party), has put a series of parliamentary questions to the government on American plans to modernise the B-61 nuclear bomb. The B-61 is a US nuclear weapon housed in Volkel and can be deployed using the F-16 warplane.

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7 February 2018

Brussels Bubble will carry on wasting money

Foto: Inyucho

The majority of MEPs voted today in favour of maintaining a proportion of the 73 seats freed up as a result of Brexit. Responding to the decision, SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong said: ´It was a bizarre spectacle. The European Parliament always wants more. This was a chance to make savings, but the EP let it pass. According to the majority, 27 of the seats which will be vacated must be used for a redivision among the member states. So the Netherlands could get three more and go up to 29. That might seem attractive, but a more evenly-balanced division would be possible with fewer MEPS, too. With this decision the EP has revealed that it couldn't care less about what's going on outside its doors. Member states have been bullied for years by the European Union to cut spending, but the European Parliament just wants more and more. I can't imagine a wider gulf between the public and the EP.”

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5 February 2018

End the war on terrorism

Early last week foreign affairs commentator Jan van Benthem of the national daily newspaper Nederlands Dagblad condemned the bloody attack in Afghanistan in which the Taliban used an ambulance to deliver a bomb. He coupled this condemnation with a call not to let up on the fight against the ultimate evil which is terrorism. In this, Van Benthem found it necessary to attack supporters of a different, more effective approach, including the writer of this article. He even gave the impression that I was lacking the moral conviction to oppose this evil.

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2 February 2018

Turkish attacks on Syrian Kurds must be condemned

Under the name 'Operation Olive Branch', Turkish troops, with the support of a range of militias, including Jihadists, have attacked the Kurdish enclave of Afrin in northern Syria. According to Ankara, the attacks are aimed at the Kurdish YPG militia, which it views as an ally of the PKK, which is fighting in Turkey for a Kurdish state. The attack left as many as hundreds of civilians dead. The United Nations estimates that at least 5,000 people have been forced to flee.

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1 February 2018

Break the power of Big Tech

A self-drive car is at risk of being involved in an accident. The car now has two options: either it can crash into the conventional vehicle in front of it, which might injure the driver, or it swerves on to the pavement, where bystanders are then endangered. The chance of the driver of the conventional vehicle being injured is then greatly reduced, but the consequences for the pedestrians if the self-drive car chooses the second option will be greater. The car will of course do only what it has been programmed to do. But who makes this sort of decision when new technologies are being programmed?

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30 January 2018

SP Congress in militant mood: Not for the few, but for each other!

“The future is not for predatory capitalism, but for the people. The future doesn't belong to the market, but to us. Together we will fight for a world where it isn't the interests of the few which count, but those of us all.” This was the theme of Lilian Marijnissen's speech to the SP Congress, her first since she became the party's leader late last year.

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