5 March 2018

Brussels should leave our free press alone

Monday, Dutch public news channel NOS broadcast a special programme on fake news. They had good reason to. We are confronted by fake news more than ever before. Any nutcase with an internet connection can throw out into the world the greatest nonsense possible. And if foreign powers want to interfere with our elections, the security services have to be on the ball. In addition, a permanent commitment to critical learning about how to deal with sources and with information is needed.

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1 March 2018

EU has still learnt nothing from opposition to TTIP

We were after all clear enough about this: treaties such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, the TTIP, are not wanted. Nobody's got anything against trade which is fair, but what we don't want are the sort of measures from the European Commission which mean that it's party time for multinationals. This was shown by the number of signatures on petitions, the number of letters I received from people in all walks of life, the huge numbers of demonstrators who got out on the streets, and the incomparable number of people who took the trouble to participate in the debate. Yet in the new mega-treaties that are on their way – with Mexico (population 124 million), Japan (126 million) and the Mercosur countries of South America (126 million) - there is nothing to suggest that the Commission has listened to what the people want for as much as a second.

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26 February 2018

Prosperous towns should play their part in accommodating refugees

Foto: SP

Millions of people are being forced to leave their homes by dire poverty, terrorism, natural disasters, human rights abuses or war. A long, hard path awaits them. Reports appear by the week of refugees who failed to survive their flight. We must tackle the fundamental causes of this situation. That means halting the bombing and the unjustifiable wars, stopping facilitating tax evasion and tax avoidance, and giving priority to combating poverty and inequality instead of to profits.

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22 February 2018

PM must set clear limits to EU actions

More EU. That's the short version of the most important and at the same time the only message which the European Commission has in store for the member states when it comes to the future of the European Union. SP Member of Parliament and spokeswoman on European affairs Renske Leijten is having none of it. “When for the first time in history a member state – the UK - is taking its leave of the EU, the European Commission is presenting one proposal after another for the EU to integrate still more quickly and still further,” she says. “So the EU budget should be increased by 10%-20%, six new member states will be admitted in 2025, changes in the euro will give member states even less control of the budget and the banks, and local authorities will soon be paralysed if they adopt policies that impinge on the interests of the internal market. The European Commission should just take a step back and take a look at what's really needed instead of always looking for European solutions. In the SP's view that means less money for the EU and more control for the member states.”

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21 February 2018

SP leader on Bernie Sanders' Our Revolution

Tuesday Lilian Marijnissen received the first copy of the Dutch translation of Bernie Sanders' book, a publication for which she wrote the foreword. SP monthly Tribune spoke to her about the book and its author.

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20 February 2018

European Commissioner Katainen should not have met with Barroso

Lobbying watchdog Corporate Europe Observatory has discovered that, against all previous agreements, on 25 October, 2017, Jyrki Katainen, Commissioner for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness met with former president of the European Commission in his present function as an advisor to Goldman Sachs. Commenting on the matter, SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong said: “Katainen must come and explain himself before the European Parliament, if only because there was so much criticism when Barroso accepted the post at Goldman Sachs. Barroso should never be accepted as a lobbyist. He himself promised to swear off any lobbying activities aimed at the Commission. Katainen is thumbing his nose at the rules. As a Vice-President of the European Commission his behaviour should be unimpeachable, instead of which he'd apparently rather maintain his contacts via an old boys network. That's unacceptable.”

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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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