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Dutch Presidency must show vision and give Europe a more humane face

Speaking during the debate on the Dutch Presidency programme in the European Parliament this morning, GUE/NGL MEPs said that “vision” was paramount to the success of this presidency.

Addressing Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, GUE/NGL Chair Gabi Zimmer said: “My understanding is that you just want to manage the European Union in a practical way – I am surprised that you refer to Lenin when you say that you want to go two steps sideways, and one step back. But that is not the right answer to the question of how the European Union can work day to day and in a way people want and need it.  You really think it is important for citizens how much profits from banks and of a small part of the population are boosted while an ever increasing part of the population is falling into need and is excluded from society? All of that will further fuel resistance against the EU.”

On subject of Eastern Europe, she said: “It became clear in yesterday's debate with the Polish Prime Minister that having a look at Eastern European member states, you can clearly see that you cannot continue with structural neoliberal reforms and create high quality jobs at the same time. It did not work so far, it will not work in the future. These so-called reforms caused poverty, precariousness and jobs in a low-paid sectors. Therefore, I cannot accept that you just want to carry on with business as usual, but more slowly. That is not what the situation calls for.”

With respect to EU´s future, she said: “In yesterday´s debate with the Polish Prime Minister, Ms Szydlo said very clearly that it is not a question of developing an EU, but a Europe of nation-states. I would like you to speak against this view in the coming weeks and months.”

On the issue of migration, Ms Zimmer asked: “What do you mean when you say a 'deal is a deal and we have 6 to 8 weeks'? Does that mean that after 6 to 8 weeks, you'll be willing to tell the Turkish Government that they cannot continue with what they are doing in the South East of Turkey? We cannot accept the violent aggression against its own population just because we want Turkey to reduce the number of refugees. Another way of reducing numbers of refugees is to take away sources of money from the warlords, prevent them from accessing raw materials or stopping trade in conflict minerals during your presidency.”

Dutch GUE/NGL MEP Dennis de Jong said he thought the Dutch Presidency was going to be a Presidency of crises. “We need vision, because these crises haven't simply dropped out of the blue. The EU has been an area where big citizens have benefitted; it hasn't been a Europe for citizens.”

“We did away with internal border controls, but nobody pointed out that we needed asylum policies at EU level. I don't agree with Eastern European countries that don't accept any refugees but you can understand that people feel overwhelmed by it.”

“You have an excellent opportunity to restore citizens' confidence in the EU by taking Dutch citizens seriously on the referendum on the Ukraine agreement. A little bit of vision is not going to do any harm.”

Dutch MEP Anja Hazekamp told Mark Rutte that many Dutch people had lost their confidence in the EU. “Europe is lacking ideals. The only common shared value we seem to have is the euro and money doesn't make people happy. If you look at EU policy, you see that Europe is doing everything for the euro and the internal market, but Europe is not master of the market. You say that we don't need new ideals, but without ideals we don't have a vision.”

“I don't know where this Dutch Presidency is headed. The only positive thing that I heard in the past weeks is that animal welfare will be a high priority. It would be a good thing if we could have some clarity about this and put an end to animal suffering.”

“The programme of the Dutch presidency is unfortunately a continuation of the same policies that led the peoples of Europe into crisis” said Cypriot MEP Neoklis Sylikiotis. “What we ask the Dutch presidency is to have a more humane approach concerning refugees and measures for social growth.”

“Europe is becoming a fortress for refugees. There should be no more hypocrisy about Turkey which cannot be considered a safe country. Turkey does not support refugees and it violates the rights of its own people.”

On the question of the Energy Union, MEP Sylikiotis added: “We would like to see the implementation of Parliament's recommendations. We want to fight energy poverty. We want to use our reserves of natural gas in Eastern Europe to help us gain more energy security.”

For Portuguese MEP João Ferreira, deepening the single market was being put forward as a “universal panacea” for unemployment, poverty and growth. “Apart from undermining social rights, it is also one of the reasons for greater conflict between member states. Other policies, such as European Monetary Union and the euro are machines which create division and difference and we need to overcome these differences; we could do that through the budget, but it has been reduced to almost nothing.

MEP Ferreira said he didn't see how this could be done during the Dutch Presidency although he emphasised it was “crucial to increase the size of the EU budget”.And on the issue of refugees, he said “the EU is showing one if its most inhumane faces”.

 

GUE/NGL Press Contact:

Gay Kavanagh +32 473 84 23 20

Nikki Sullings + 32 483 03 55 75