Brexit to be considered as a lost game

EU negotiator for Brexit, Michel Barnier, considers Brexit to be a very negative thing, which can be considered as a lost game. For him Brexit has no added value. He says

So far no one, including Mr. Farage, has been able to give any proof of the value of Brexit.”

European Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager, finds also that we have lost a lot of valuable time which could be en spend at better things. After years of debates and negotiations, for her it is getting time to stop talking about Brexit, to continue advancing on issues of concern to Europeans.

She finds

“We have things to do, and we can not allow the Brexit to overshadow the important things, because they continue to occupy our thoughts, our means of communication …

Precious time that the heads of State and Government could use to talk to each other about what to do in the future, how to be more in agreement, what are the important things that we have to deal with …

Because now we do not have an agreement on how to protect refugees, on how to confront illegal immigration, we are still debating what to do With our external borders, we have many discussions about trade and other very important ones that will influence our daily life and, even so, we lose hours and hours talking about Brexit, so I hope this new extension and the fact that they can leave when want them to be ready, it’s already a British question. “

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Time to get out of the gridlock

In the wee small hours of the morning, Donald Trump lashed out, once more, at the EU over Brexit, responding to the news the UK would be given a “flextension” to 31 October to sort out its nightmarishly chaotic divorce from continental Europe.

According to Trump the Union does not want to give some breath to the UK and for him it is

“Too bad that the European Union is being so tough on the United Kingdom and Brexit.”

but he warns us with his known rhetoric

“Sometimes in life you have to let people breathe before it all comes back to bite you!”

We have no idea how much this time Donald Trump really knows what is going on in Europe and why he would consider the European Union giving an unfair treatment to those who want to leave the Union.

To the Americans he loves to present the EU as a power pleasure organisation taking advantage of the US on trade for many years and willing to do so with the UK as well. Though he assures the EU

“It will soon stop!”

In fact, the WTO has handed down unfavourable rulings to both the EU and US in recent months. In March, it ruled Washington had failed to stop giving Boeing illegal tax subsidies, and last year issued a similar ruling against EU subsidies to Airbus.

We can imagine that Trump may laugh with the ‘quiet dream’ of Donald Tusk that Britain will stay in EU, certainly now Theresa May got a longer extension than the prime minister wanted, but shorter than many in the EU were pushing for.

Brexit minister Kwasi Kwarteng has insisted that delaying Brexit until October will give the government time to get an exit deal through parliament.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today:

“It is not a secret that we have had a difficult time in trying to get the deal through the House of Commons.

“Parliament is in gridlock at the moment and I think that we have got the time, hopefully, to get the deal through.

“But it’s been challenging.

“I think that the extension is long enough to get a deal through.”

May said

“what is important is that any extension enables us to leave at the point we ratify the withdrawal agreement”

rather than the length (we may reckon).

When would more Mp’ies go to see they should perhaps better give the voice again to the public an d know that it’s time for them to bite the bullet and say,

“look, we can’t do this any longer, we have to make a change..”

European Council president Donald Tusk said at a 2am press conference:

“Let me finish with a message to our British friends:

this extension is as flexible as I expected, an a little bit shorter than I expected, but it’s still enough to find the best possible solution. Please do not waste this time.”

He added:

“I think it’s always best to have a piece of something than all of nothing.”



British Parliament hostage its citizens for even more months

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British Parliament hostage its citizens for even more months

The soap that breaks many acid

It is incredible, after all this time debating about how to make arrangements for leaving the European Union, never coming forward with positive ideas, the Union approved to be once more patient with the British.

Who would ever thought that Brexit could roll on until October 2019?

Theresa May came to Brussels asking for no longer than June 30 but ended with a halfway house that is not the nightmare long extension that could frighten her Brexiters MPs enough to accept her withdrawal deal for fear of losing Brexit.

Mrs May had kicked off proceedings with a one-hour address where she tried to reassure leaders on promises of good faith and her “historic” cross-party talks with Labour.

In the early hours of the 11th of April, one day before the end of the umpteenth delay EU27 leaders, after a five-hour talks in Brussels, gave the UK a new Brexit fright night: October 31 (Halloween), making it that the UK would not be crashing out tomorrow.


Pro-Contra Brexit-EU camp

For sure we as European citizens may find the sword of Damocles hanging above our heads already for several months and find the ghosts of custom problems flying around our ears.

Diplomats described the meeting last night as a classic summit solution that provided something for everyone. The six month-delay was a halfway point between rival end dates; a December 2019 deadline (backed by the likes of the Netherlands and Germany) and Emmanuel Macron’s objections to going beyond the end of June.

“This extension is as flexible as I expected, and a little bit shorter than I expected,”

said Donald Tusk, European Council president.

Emmanuel Macron set out his stall, warning Mrs May that she has until May 22 to decide whether her divorce deal passes, or she revokes Article 50. He had good reasons to say it has been enough, and that he wanted to protect his European “renaissance” from the Brexit disease, willing to end it hailing the

“best possible compromise”.

The French president’s intransigence

 “didn’t make him any friends tonight”

said one official.

Seventeen member states came out in favour of a longer date, with three to four countries pushing for a short date but keeping an open mind, and just Macron in the hardline camp. He finally relenting to a midway compromise after voicing his fears that a longer extension could mean the Brits may never leave at all. (In a way which would be the best solution, but would not be received well in a very great camp of “leavers”.)

This extension makes that the British should have to go to the ballot-room to vote for something they do not want to be part of.  It also makes them hanging around in EU institutions, giving them the opportunity to undermine it or to spy, and having a new commissioner by ending before the likely start of the next European Commission in November.

For Merkel and others who pushed to give the UK breathing space this extension is also long enough to give that breath and possibility to make better arrangements for trade agreements.

We wonder if the many debates in the British parliament were not a play of power, not so much interested in what would be the best for the British citizens. In any case prime minister Theresa May proofed to be a tuff lady, even stronger than our previous Iron Lady (Margaret Thatcher) who had also shown how well she knew the blow of the whip.

Regularly we heard voices who indicated the UK Government would potentially compromise on the UK staying in the customs union after Brexit if it would secure Labour’s support on a deal.

David Mundell, Scottish secretary, said his party was “certainly willing” to discuss it in talks with Jeremy Corbyn’s party – contrary to the Prime Minister’s previous stance.

You would think many British now would be wiser and understand the problems and danger for the inner market when they would leave the Union.

As a consequence of Brexit, the Imperial Island has been able to be weakened by lots of companies looking to settle at the European continent, so that they can continue doing business in the EU and not be held back after Brexit. Rotterdam, Paris, Frankfurt, Berlin but even Dublin, could find British companies preferring to have their headquarters there, plus creating a flow of money to the European continent, which otherwise would have stayed in the UK. It can well be that today already a trillion dollars worth of assets have been relocated from the City of London to other EU countries.

Some may think Brexit had little to do with Nationalism and Protectionism, and far more to do with Sovereignty and Capitalism. In a way they are partly right, but they overlook the very important misleading of the extreme-right parties who brought the country in this horrible mess. Already for three years more time is spend to talk about the Brexit than taking care about inner problems, education and health care. We can find many villages and towns where there is no library any more, no swimming pool, not enough facilities any more for the youngsters and not enough educators and nurses any more. Nationalists and populists made use of the increased knife-crime to blame the EU of all this crime and proving they need a strongly protected border, of which they have all control.

Lots of people wanted the imperial sovereignty of economic choice again, but forgot how much the Union provided to rebuild the past (abandoned) industrial zones of the UK. They may have had the impression that they had to put more money in the Union than they got out of it. But they should have known how much stronger they and we could be opposite the United States and China.

It is now much more likely for Britain to make a trade agreement with the United States, now that Britain is unfettered from the European Union, but probably this is going to allow genetic manipulated food in the country and bring more products in the West of Europe which would have a very high ecological footprint. They may think it being much more likely for Britain to remain a Global Economic force unfettered from the failing Euro, but people may not forget that together we can make the Euro as well as the Union very strong and to be an indispensable trading partner.

It is really getting time that those unending debates on Brexit do come to an end and that the parliamentarians shall come to spend more time on the inner problems of the country. An imminent economic crisis may have been averted, but at the moment we can find many small firms which are pushed to despair and are hoping for a sensible solution and a wise a political consensus.


Find also to read

  1. Flashback 2016 | Brexit
  2. UK and EU agree Brexit delay to 31 October
  3. #Brexit delayed to Halloween: EU leaders agree a ‘flextension’ until October 31
  4. PM gets extension to article 50.
  5. Business groups react to ‘flexible extension’ of Article 50
  6. More companies leaving the UK for the Netherlands
  7. Brexit brings FUD to finance
  8. EU Extends U.K.’s Brexit Deadline Until Oct. 31
  9. Brexit: When did May say that he was resigning? | International
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Rwandese genocide in herinnering genomen

Het was de afgelopen 25 jaar nodig alle Rwandezen te doen begrijpen dat we hetzelfde land delen, dezelfde rechten. De opbouw van een rechtstaat is dus een essentiële en voorname uitdaging geweest.

mag Jean-Damascène Bizimana, secretaris-generaal van de Rwandese commissie van de strijd tegen genocide zeggen.

Vandaag wil Rwanda “doen alsof” zij werkelijk in vrede willen gedenken wat er 25 jaar geleden gebeurd is.
Zij roepen vandaag uit als een dag voor

‘herinneren, eenheid en vernieuwing’.

waarbij de klemtoon zal liggen op de jeugd: die heeft de genocide niet meegemaakt, maar krijgt nog altijd te maken met de gevolgen.

Hierbij moet men wel bedenken dat die gevolgen voor heel wat mensen een verschrikkelijke nachtmerrie vormen.

Jean-Damascène Bizimana heeft gelijk uit te kijken naar een heropbouw van zijn land, waarbij de opbouw van een rechtstaat een essentiële en voorname uitdaging moet geweest zijn voor de betrokkenen. Maar diegenen die aan het hoofd stonden van de gebeurtenissen lijken ongeschonden uit het avontuur gekomen te zijn.

De Rwandese president Paul Kagame mag dan wel zeggen dat Frankrijk medeplichtig was aan de genocide, maar ik denk toch dat het meeste bloed aan zijn handen kleeft. Nochtans leek de Belgische eerste minister zich niet verveeld te voelen om als gast die krijgsheer van weleer de hand te drukken, met een glimlach, ook al had België in 2014 ook een veeg uit de pan gekregen van Kagame, vanwege zijn rol in de koloniale periode.

In 2014 zakte toenmalig premier Di Rupo niet af naar Kigali, maar twee van zijn regeringsleden deden dat wel. Onder de honderdduizenden Rwandese slachtoffers waren immers ook een twintigtal Belgische slachtoffers. De bekendsten zijn natuurlijk de tien VN-blauwhelmen die instonden voor de bescherming van de Rwandese premier Agathe Uwilingiyimana die een radiotoespraak moest houden om de bevolking op te roepen tot kalmte. Zij werden op 7 april, de dag na de crash van het vliegtuig van president Juvénal Habyarimana, in koelen bloede vermoord. Na het neerhalen van dat regeringsvliegtuig volgde een onoverzienbare slachtpartij waarbij zelfs zij die jaren vriendelijke buren waren geweest, nu als elkaars grootste vijand met machetes te lijf gingen. Nog twaalf andere Belgen kwamen om tijdens die verschrikkelijke volkerenmoord.

Het is niet slecht dat premier Michel op maandag in Camp Kigali, waar de para’s vermoord werden, eer zal  betuigen aan alle Belgische slachtoffers, maar hij zou de verantwoordelijken ook moeten durven naar voor roepen.

Het was een burgeroorlog waar ongeoorloofde misdaden tegen de mensheid werden gepleegd. Ook al mag men zeggen dat er een zoektocht heeft plaats gevonden naar verzoening waarbij het gerecht een rol heeft gespeeld, en tientallen Hutu-verantwoordelijken door het Rwanda-tribunaal werden veroordeeld, valt het op dat belangrijke leiders in de strijd ongestraft zijn gebleven. Het lijkt wel of men zich op de kleine garnalen heeft gefocust om de aandacht van de huidige leiders van het land af te wenden.

Leden van de FPR, die vandaag het land leiden en wier rol in de genocide evenmin onbesproken was, moesten niet terechtstaan voor die rechtbank. In Rwanda zelf zijn zowat 2 miljoen gewone Rwandezen bericht door volksrechtbanken, zogenaamde gacaca’s. Volgens critici van het Rwandese regime is de sociale consensus die het gevolg zou zijn van die rechtbanken, slechts schijn en is die enkel een bewijs van de greep die Kigali heeft op de hele Rwandese samenleving.

Spijtig genoeg moeten wij vaststellen dat de huidige Belgische regering verkozen heeft om aan deze hypocriete volksvertoning mee te doen.

‘Het wordt te weinig vermeld dat er bij de opmars van het RPF ook een half miljoen Hutu’s zijn omgebracht.’ © Getty Images

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Paul Kagame not brought before court for crimes against humanity

Rwandan President Paul Kagame will open a period of one hundred days of national mourning today Sunday April the 7th, by lighting a flame at the Kigali Genocide Memorial. This is followed by a ceremony at the Amahoro stadium.

I do not understand that the ceremony will be attended by the Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, who yesterday smiled when giving a handshake to Kagame. The French president Emmanuel Macron was also invited, but becomes the large absentee ‘due to agenda problems’. Macron sends MP Hervé Berville, a Rwandan orphan who was adopted by a French family. Macron hopes that this decision reflects his will to build a new relationship with Rwanda.

But altogether Europe should have taken the opportunity to to declare this sitting president was one of the causers of the tragedy, who should be brought before court for crimes against humanity.

Preserved skulls of victims are exhibited, Nyamata, Rwanda, April 9, 2014.

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Stakes ramped up for workhorse of Obamacare and Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was already in peril after a federal judge in Texas invalidated the entire law late last year. But the stakes ramped up again last week, when President Trump’s Justice Department announced it had changed its position and agreed with the judge that the entire law, not just three pieces of it, should be invalidated.

The administration had previously said that the law’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions should be struck down, but that the rest of the law, including the expansion of Medicaid, should survive.

A coalition of states is appealing the ruling, which could have dire consequences for millions of people. That includes 9.2 million who receive federal subsidies.
If it is upheld, tens of millions more people would be affected than those who already rely on the nine-year-old law for health insurance. Also known as Obamacare, the law touches the lives of most Americans, from nursing mothers to people eating at chain restaurants.

Medicaid, the government insurance program for the poor that is jointly funded by the federal government and the states, has been the workhorse of Obamacare. If the health law were struck down, more than 12 million low-income adults who have gained Medicaid coverage through the law’s expansion of the program could lose it.

In all, according to the Urban Institute, enrolment in the program would drop by more than 15 million, including roughly three million children who got Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program when their parents signed up for coverage.

We do know Trump has no empathy at all with unhealthy people nor with their surroundings, but losing free health insurance would, of course, also mean worse access to care and, quite possibly, worse health for the millions who would be affected, whilst those who can swim in their money would not have to worry, being able to have their private insurance company taking care of them.

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Baby Boomers reaching retirement age, Demographic trends and New blood from abroad

Europe has to face the inevitable effect of the extra-large baby boom generation hitting retirement age and stepping away from the work force.

For many years, economists from Europe and America have spoken of Japan and Western Europe as places where the slow grind of demographic change — masses of workers reaching retirement age, and smaller generations replacing them — has been a major drag on the economy.
Many employees who were to expensive because of their seniority were made redundant, recruiting cheaper young talent. Often a lot of talent was put through the drain by getting rid of the older workers.

Lots of people may be against the fact that immigrants bolster the labour force, but in many regions, like on the agricultural land and fruit-growing regions of Great Britain and Belgium, such people are needed because nobody of the local population want to do such a job.

The population of different places has always been fluctuating, and economists have traditionally viewed that as a mostly healthy process. Throughout the ages we can see that often lots of people thought work would be easier available in cities. Also today in economically booming countries we can see that workers made their way to where they would be of the most use, the most productive, enabling the overall economy to adapt and grow.

But people who study regional economies are increasingly concerned that some aspects of this wave of demographic change make the pain more severe for places left behind — which can get stuck in a vicious cycle. America is a magnificent example. A shrinking supply of working-age people can prompt employers to look elsewhere to expand, making it harder for local governments to raise enough taxes to pay for infrastructure and education, and encouraging those younger people who remain to head elsewhere for more opportunity. It raises the possibility that, if unchecked, these demographic trends might not merely reduce overall national growth rates in the decades ahead. They could also cause the left-behind cities to hit a point of no return that undermines the long-term economic potential of huge swaths like we can find in the United States. There we can find several ghost towns or derelict cities which were once blooming, but now empty abandoned and only populated with poor people finding themselves in places where drugs and crime have found their way and determine the cityscape.

Many may not like immigrants entering our regions. But they should come to see  that perhaps those refugees and people looking for a better life in our country, might be the solution for a regeneration of our economy.
We can use an immigration policy that would stop the vicious cycle. Not according the Scandinavian model (see my previous posts) but giving them good prospects by offering them also reasonable wages and not using them as slaves.

It would not be bad that visas could be made available to skilled immigrants on the condition they go to one of the areas struggling with demographic decline. In places where people from our welfare state do not want to take up the necessary work in those abandoned regions, immigrants could be attracted to nestle there. At such places where there was chemical-, car- and/or agricultural  industry such people from outside should be able to create growth in the working-age population in those places, increasing the tax base and the demand for housing, and giving businesses reason to invest.

Given hostility to immigration in large segments of the country, places should be able to elect whether to make visas available to immigrants as part of an economic development strategy. It would have to be a “dual opt-in” approach in which both the community decides it wants more immigration, and individual immigrants elect to move there.

In France we can find lots of places where there does not seem to be any life any more. The stores have been abandoned and do not form an inviting image to visit such a place. When we would allow immigrants move to such abandoned cities, this could be helpful in holding the population steady after a long pattern of losses.

In Western Europe we urgently need programs to provide a new workforce to replace the retired baby boomers. Combined with a low cost of living and investment in community colleges to create qualified workers, the intake of immigrants can give smaller cities the means to break out of demographic ruts.



Involvement and implementation of European Pillar of Social Rights

Race to the bottom of refugee rights in European Union #2 Branded as a ghetto

Establishment of a European Pillar of Social Rights

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Les partis politiques s’engagent à élever le revenu minimum au-dessus du seuil de pauvreté européen et réformer le statut cohabitant

Dans le cadre des élections fédérales du 26 mai, le Réseau belge du revenu minimum (BMIN) a organisé le 28 mars un grand débat politique sur l’une des mesures les plus importantes pour sortir les gens de la pauvreté : élever le revenu minimum au-dessus du seuil de pauvreté européen. Au cours de ce débat, tous les partis démocratiques néerlandophones et francophones ont promis de faire du relèvement du revenu minimum au-dessus du seuil de pauvreté européen une priorité. En outre, ils sont également favorables à une réforme du statut de cohabitant lors de la prochaine législature. Tous les partis se sont explicitement engagés à inclure ces deux mesures dans le nouvel accord de coalition fédérale s’ils font partie d’un nouveau gouvernement fédéral.

Le fait qu’il est urgent d’augmenter les prestations les plus faibles est évident d’après les chiffres de la pauvreté dans notre pays.
1 Belge sur 5, soit 2.296.000 personnes au total, vit dans la pauvreté ou l’exclusion sociale, ce qui est inacceptable pour un pays riche comme la Belgique.  Derrière ces chiffres se cache une réalité pénible: celle de personnes qui ne vivent pas, mais qui doivent survivre. Ils ne savent pas comment ils vont s’en sortir financièrement jusqu’à la fin du mois, car ils doivent faire face à des coûts de loyer et d’énergie de plus en plus élevés. Pour un bénéficiaire qui vit en colocation ou ménage, le statut de cohabitant est aussi un facteur important qui le pousse souvent encore plus loin dans la pauvreté. Le taux cohabitant ne signifie pas seulement qu’une personne voit une grande partie de son revenu diminuer: il restreint également la liberté de choix des personnes quant à la personne avec laquelle elles veulent vivre ou à la façon dont elles veulent façonner leur vie familiale, et engendre une intrusion dans la vie privée des ménages par les visites domiciliaires que le contrôle de son application suscite (comptage du nombre de brosses à dents, ouverture des armoires à vêtements…).

Dans le passé, il existait déjà de bonnes intentions politiques de fournir à chacun un revenu qui lui permettrait de mener une vie digne de la dignité humaine. Le gouvernement Di Rupo et Michel avaient tous deux inscrit l’augmentation des revenus les plus faibles dans l’accord de coalition fédéral. Toutefois, nous devons conclure que très peu de choses se sont produites ces dernières années et que, pour de nombreuses prestations minimales, le seuil de pauvreté européen est encore loin d’être atteint.

Nous, réseaux de lutte contre la pauvreté, syndicats, mutuelles, universitaires et autres organisations de lutte contre la pauvreté réunis au sein du consortium BMIN, saluons le fait que tous les partis politiques démocratiques s’engagent à réenregistrer l’augmentation du revenu minimum au-dessus du seuil de pauvreté européen dans un futur accord de coalition fédérale.  Nous sommes également heureux d’apprendre que les partis politiques se sont également engagés à réformer le statut cohabitant[1]. Nous espérons qu’après les élections du 26 mai, les partis politiques n’auront pas oublié ces engagements importants et les mettront effectivement en pratique. Espérons que l’adage ” Troisième fois, c’est la bonne ” sera aussi pleinement compris !

Contact : Caroline Van der Hoeven (BAPN) – ou 0473/

[1] A l’exception de la NVA, qui n’était pas présente lors de la seconde partie du débat.


Nederlandse versie

Politieke partijen engageren zich om de minimuminkomens op te trekken tot boven de Europese armoedegrens en het statuut samenwonende te hervormen

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Politieke partijen engageren zich om de minimuminkomens op te trekken tot boven de Europese armoedegrens en het statuut samenwonende te hervormen

In het kader van de federale verkiezingen op 26 mei heeft het Belgisch Minimum Inkomen Netwerk (BMIN) op 28 maart een groot politiek debat georganiseerd over één van de belangrijkste maatregelen om mensen uit de armoede te halen: het optrekken van de minimuminkomens tot boven de Europese armoedegrens.

Tijdens dit debat hebben alle democratische partijen langs Nederlandstalige en Franstalige zijde beloofd om een prioriteit te maken van het optrekken van de minimuminkomens tot boven de Europese armoedegrens. Bovendien zijn zij ook voorstander om tijdens de volgende legislatuur het statuut samenwonende te hervormen. Alle partijen engageerden zich expliciet tot het inschrijven van deze twee maatregelen in het nieuwe federale regeerakkoord als zij deel uitmaken van een nieuwe federale regering.

Dat het hoogdringend is om de laagste uitkeringen te verhogen blijkt uit de armoedecijfers van ons land.
1 op 5 Belgen,  2.296.000 mensen in totaal, leeft in armoede of sociale uitsluiting wat onaanvaardbaar is voor een rijk land als België.  Achter deze cijfers gaat een schrijnende realiteit schuil van mensen die niet leven maar moeten zien te overleven. Zij weten niet hoe ze financieel het einde van de maand zullen halen, aangezien zij geconfronteerd worden met steeds hogere kosten voor huur en energie, enz. Voor een uitkeringsgerechtigde die samenwoont met zijn of haar gezin of die aan cohousing doet, vormt het statuut samenwonende daarenboven een grote factor die hem of haar vaak nog verder in de armoede duwt. Het statuut samenwonende houdt niet enkel in dat iemand een groot deel van zijn of haar inkomen verminderd ziet worden, het beperkt ook de keuzevrijheid van mensen over met wie ze willen samenleven of hoe ze vorm willen geven aan hun gezinsleven. De controle of het statuut samenwonende al dan niet van toepassing is, leidt bovendien tot een inmenging in het privéleven die door de mensen als zeer ingrijpend beschouwd wordt  (huisbezoeken waarbij het aantal tandenborstels geteld worden, kledingkasten geopend worden, enz.).

In het verleden waren er al goede intenties van de politiek om iedereen een inkomen te verschaffen waardoor hij of zij een menswaardig leven kan leiden. Zowel de regering Di Rupo als Michel hadden beide het optrekken van de laagste inkomens ingeschreven in het federale regeerakkoord. We moeten echter vaststellen dat de laatste jaren bijzonder weinig gebeurd is en dat voor vele minimumuitkeringen de Europese armoedegrens nog steeds veraf is.

Wij, netwerken armoedebestrijding, vakbonden, mutualiteiten, academici en andere armoede-organisaties, verenigd in het BMIN-consortium, verwelkomen dat alle democratische politieke partijen zich verbinden om het optrekken van de minimuminkomens tot boven de Europese armoedegrens opnieuw in te schrijven in het federale regeerakkoord.  Wij zijn verheugd om te horen dat de politieke partijen zich ook engageren tot het hervormen van het statuut samenwonende.[1] Wij hopen dat na de verkiezingen op 26 mei de politieke partijen deze belangrijke engagementen niet vergeten zullen zijn en deze effectief ook zullen omzetten in de praktijk. Hopelijk volstrekt zich dan ook het gezegde: “Derde keer, goede keer’!

Contact : Caroline Van der Hoeven (BAPN) – of 0473/

[1] Met uitzondering van NVA die niet aanwezig was tijdens het tweede gedeelte van het debat.


Franse versie

Les partis politiques s’engagent à élever le revenu minimum au-dessus du seuil de pauvreté européen et réformer le statut cohabitant

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An European alliance or a populist alliance

Lots of people in the European Union seem not to understand the need of having all the different countries or states to form one united block. Several populist politicians try to have the citizens of their country to believe they would be better off without the many immigrants and without the European Union.

Matteo Salvini Viminale (cropped).jpg

Deputy Prime Minister of Italy Matteo Salvini Viminale

Dissatisfaction with the EU on a raft of issues – from immigration to the economy – may result in a surge of support for so-called populist parties. Italy’s Matteo Salvini certainly hopes that anti-establishment parties win big in the May vote, paving the way for a populist alliance to reform the EU and craft the institutions in their own image.

With harsh words for Brussels and displays of affection for illiberal leaders like Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump, several populist leaders are perceived as being entirely focused on clawing back power for national governments at the expense of European integration. Some, like Farage, do not mind telling a lot of lies and giving the people lots of promises, they themselves know they can not be made true.

Some may want us to believe that those populist leaders when in charge would be more pragmatic, willing to cut deals with their ideological enemies at home or abroad if it benefits their voters, and that they would be less likely to want to bring down the EU to their — and everybody else’s — disadvantage than to try to work the EU system to their advantage, harnessing it to their agenda.

Political analysts point out that, despite previous electoral success, European populists have struggled when it comes to unity of purpose or message. Perhaps unsurprisingly, nationalist political movements find international coordination with other nationalists a challenge, particularly when “populist” parties often hail from radically different ends of the political spectrum.

Six countries collectively account for more than 60 percent of the current populist members of the European Parliament. Recent polling and historical performance suggest that populist parties will increase their number of seats in these countries by half. {EU Elections: Has Populism Peaked?}

EU-sceptics and anti-immigration have won popularity the last few years. We face many challenges, from globalisation, to the impact of new technologies on society and jobs, to security concerns. The rise of populism and all that change makes people uncertain and afraid, willing to follow those who blame others for what goes wrong.

Europe being under pressure with the Brexit as well as being at a crossroads and needing to decide how it wants to tackle the challenges of today, has to provide enough information to its citizens so that they may not be lured in such adventures as the British people.

We also see a sword of Damocles in the need of protecting our borders while preserving the right to free movement within Europe, at the same time facing security threats at our doors and within our Union with the build-up of troops at our eastern borders, war and terrorism in the Middle East and Africa.

A lot of people also do not seem to see the importance of Europe’s changing place in an evolving world with for its community a shrinking population and waning economic power.
With the ageing population we not only need to modernise our social welfare systems but we have to provide young blood for taking their workplace and providing taxpayers to offer enough money to pay for them all and for the necessary infrastructure.

Next to the European Pillar of Social Rights, which consists of 20 key principles and rights to support fair and well-functioning labour markets and welfare systems, we need to restore people’s trust making it clear that the Pillar is not only designed as a compass for a renewed process of upward convergence towards better working and living conditions in Europe, but that when everybody wants to work to the goals of it, we can make it.
Social dialogue and involvement of workers, as well as clear rules on working conditions, are among the main principles of the Pillar. It is up to the politicians and people in charge of the economy to deliver according to expectations and to build consensus between member states. The citizens of the Union have to see that everything is done to get well-functioning and fair European labour markets, effective and sustainable social protection systems. The people should notice not only the promotion of social dialogue at all levels but have to see some positive results of it.

Future programmes should continue focusing on those who are most in need and where funding gaps exist in the respective country.

Countries sharing the euro as a single currency could do more together in the social field to preserve the strength and stability of the euro area and to avoid abrupt adjustments in the living standards of its citizens. Other interested countries could participate as well. But the Union should also make work of it to reduce the misuse of the Euro coin to make the prices of the products go up as if it is nothing.

People have to come aware that the ones in the European Parliament are willing to work for the people. The citizens have to see that those leaders in the Union are really building a fairer Europe and want to give a key priority to strengthening its social dimension. The scoreboard, tracking trends and performances across EU countries in 12 areas, serves to assess progress towards a social ‘triple A’ for the EU as a whole. And it is that triple A that should convince people to go together for that European dream which should not be a fata morgana.

In case so many feel that they are exploited, betrayed, neglected, corrupted by an evil elite, we should find the reasons for their feelings and investigate what can be done to give them a more positive feeling for what is possible in the European Union when everybody wants to co-operate in the system.

The least unequal societies in Europe tend to have the lowest levels of poverty, and to have been less impacted by the crisis. In such places we also find less peevishness. As community we should try to avoid resentment and strive to a feeling of well-being. When people can be made assure that those incoming immigrants would not take their jobs away, but are a necessary asset to take on jobs many people from here do not want to do, they would have no reason to go against them. Also when they can find that the governments in charge are willing to choose to give priority to ensuring adequate minimum income levels and ensuring good access to services, through the social protection system and through guaranteeing minimum wage levels, they shall not so easily mislead by those right-wing parties which are good in telling half-truths and whole-falsehoods.

When we can show people which countries are the most effective at redistributing wealth through the tax and other systems, they perhaps shall think about it when this also would be implemented in their surroundings. This means that the decisions over how to eradicate poverty and displeasure in the end are political choices about the kind of society we want.

Over the last 40 years, the ideological dividing lines over the survival of the EU seemed clear, but the last five years the EU got severe cracks. We should have people come to see how the European Union has given long-lasting peace across our continent and still can provide peace and wealth for all its citizens.

In the past the European Union also could bring people together around the fundamental values of democracy, human rights, freedom and equality. The gap which has brought a black and grubby filthy hard to fade out stain must be filled back with good binder or long-lasting glue.

Democracy needs to be lived in order to remain alive. Therefore citizens across Europe are urged to go out and vote in the European elections from 23-26 May 2019 in order to have a say on the future and to defend democracy, sustainable economic growth and social justice.

The EU has been instrumental in making the European way of life what it is today. It has brought unprecedented economic and social progress and continues to bring tangible benefits for citizens, workers and enterprises across Europe.

Being confronted by uncertain times for Europe and for the world there is a need for people to examine very well the promises of their politicians. Whilst we are on a path towards recovery, the economic and social consequences of the crisis can still be felt by citizens, workers and enterprises.
Those people questioning or even rejecting the European project should wonder what they want in place and what their beloved politicians really have to offer them.

We are facing huge challenges – international tensions, re-defining the EU-UK relationship, migration, unemployment, prospects for our youth, the climate and digital transformation and in several countries, increasing economic and social inequalities. But the answer is not to pull up the drawbridge and retreat – we must stand up and take action in a united way.

The EU project has to remain resilient and strong and we with the European Social Partners, believe that it can continue to help us to face our challenges and design a brighter future for Europe, its citizens, workers and enterprises.

Are you willing to believe in Europe, a Europe which is still one of the best places in the world to live, work and do business?
We have much to be proud of and to cherish and we should build on this, together.

In this spirit, let us all go for a united democratic European Union, where we all can live with different sorts of people, of different cultures, religions and different attitudes. Let us also continue to contribute to a successful European project and a united Europe that delivers for its workers and enterprises, initiatives that improve their everyday lives and offer a better future full of opportunities for all.



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