Report on competition policy 2009

Mr President, these days competition is often regarded as a concept that makes life difficult. Some people prefer cosy arrangements and the hot tub of backstage agreements as protection against the harsh world of global competition. But, Commissioner, competition is not the spoiler but the lifesaver of the European economy. Europe is at a crossroads. Will it create a transfer economy, with low growth and high structural unemployment, or will it have a wealth-creating economy that stands the test of global competition?

A football team, Commissioner, that is not competitive loses game after game. An economy that is not competitive loses investment, jobs and finally the basis of its social arrangements. Since European competition policy is the exclusive competence of the European Commission, you, Commissioner – or rather Commissioner Almunia, for whom you are standing in – play a decisive role.

This week the United Nations published figures on foreign direct investment in 2010. The United States attracted 43% more foreign investment than in 2009. Foreign direct investment in Latin America rose by 21% and in Asia by 10%. In the European Union it dropped by 20% – and why is that? The money goes to where the action is. Apparently investors regard Europe as the continent of inaction, only generating poor growth figures. It demonstrates the European Union facing a competitiveness deficit.

Commissioner, you have to assure a level playing field for entrepreneurial activity in Europe to make our continent fit for global competition. We all know China.

Report on competition policy 2009 part 2

Mr President, I would like to thank the Commissioner, who is standing in for his colleague, for being here. I welcome the initiative of the Commission with regard to collective redress, which is a long-overdue initiative. It is also mentioned in the report, and I think it is in the interests of the consumers – provided it is well defined and well legislated. I think it is good. We will start with the Green Paper to see what the different opinions are. I welcome this.

In other countries, the states are trying to disengage from the banking sector, and here there is the danger of a dowry. I expect that you cannot reply to this issue of a dowry – it is something for the Commissioner – but it would be very unfair to other banks that did not get state aid if some that have been recovered or needed resuscitation suddenly got one. So here we have to look at the issue of the level playing field.

Finally I come to the follow-up, because there were a few remarks by Mrs in ’t Veld, Mrs Gáll and Mr Bütikofer which were spot-on. We had a report last year, we have a report this year and we will probably have a similar report next year. It all stays the same. It looks a bit like a Vatican-based ritual where we have the same things over and over again. I think that we have to look into the follow-up to the questions we have asked, and I propose that the rapporteur and the previous rapporteur get in touch with the Commissioner and with the Director-General of DG COMP to see what happens with the request we made.

We need to have a report that is properly implemented in terms of information provision. This is why I propose that we have a proper follow-up, in which Mrs in ’t Veld will certainly support me, to see what the Commission is doing.

Strasbourg, 20 January 2011

Establishing a permanent crisis mechanism to safeguard the financial stability of the euro area

Derk Jan Eppink, on behalf of the ECR Group.

Mr President, I shall try to be briefer than the previous speaker. My group proposes to adopt the budget as agreed by the Council. It offers a small increase and that is a reasonable compromise. Keep in mind that EU Member States and citizens have to cut their budgets. Unfortunately, the debate on the budget had a false start. The Parliament demanded an increase of 6%, which was ludicrous and showed that this congregation was out of touch. Here, the debate was even inflamed by hotheads who wanted to kidnap the budget to force access to own resources, in other words EU taxation. We have always opposed that. Lisbon is clear on it. The Parliament has a right to advise, not a right to co-decide.

The Parliament lost this battle, as we predicted. Now it is moving to the position which the European Conservatives defended all along – a budget of 1% of GDP. The hotheads here must cool down, particularly the Greens. Just imagine that the EU had no budget next year while the euro was in a tailspin. Is that the image you want to offer the financial markets? They would not be at all happy.

I would like to congratulate the governments of the United Kingdom and the Netherlands for their principled position. I thank the Belgian Government for their role as honest broker and I thank the Commission for its knowledgeable and cool-headed work.


This year’s anti-bureaucratic prize goes to the Netherlands

The former Dutch journalist, senior official and the current politician on behalf of Belgium, Derk-Jan Eppink, has become the fifth laureate of the Michal Tošovský anti-bureaucratic prize. According to – Efektivní stát (Effective State) think-tank that bestows this already traditional prize, Eppink has earned this prize by his literary works Life of a European Mandarin and Bonfire of Bureaucracy in Europe.

In his book Life of a European Mandarin (published in 2007) Eppink describes aptly backstage of European institutions and reality of their functioning, which is miles away from the generally known schoolbook axioms, from the insider’s point of view.  Two main factors, affecting activities of the European Commission, permeate through the whole work, namely the bureaucratic culture of the staff and the political backstage struggle which - besides the Brussels policy even the international and a very strong national policy in individual member states - is reflected into.

A new book Bonfire of Bureaucracy in Europe, written by Eppink as the MEP already, describes inter alia seven capital sins of the EU, which the Union should get rid of, provided it wants to survive in the forthcoming decade. Eppink fittingly reveals the gaps between     the rhetoric of the European Union and the inconvenient truth. Eppink points out how the European institutional elite tries to conceal differences between their conception and the unpalatable reality by using the semantic language, long declarations and intemperate idealism. Everything culminates by the naive vision of the European elites that Europe is the source of the “great good” and the “more Europe” can be created, the happier the people will be.

The prize for the year 2010 has been awarded festively in the Senate. The appreciated Derk-Jan Eppink has exploited the festive event and presented the Czech version of his book Bonfire of Bureaucracy in Europe / Ohňostroj evropské byrokracie.

Eppink meets Thatcher


On September 30th, 2010 Derk Jan 



met Baroness Thatcher in London during the launch of the think tank 'New Direction'.

Derk Jan Eppink MEP Speaks Out Against EU Tax Plans

MediaDerk Jan Eppink MEP Speaks Out Against EU Tax Plans               

Derk Jan Eppink, MEP for Belgium and a member of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, has hit out strenuously at plans for EU taxes, revealed today by the EU’s Tax Commissioner, Janusz Lewandowski. Mr Lewandowski told the Financial Times Deutschland that “the door is open to think about revenues that are not claimed by (national) finance ministers.” He said that the current system whereby 76 per cent of the EU’s budget is paid for by national contributions “was not the intention of the founding fathers."

But Mr Eppink, a former Commission insider whose recent books “Life of a European Mandarin" and "Bonfire of Bureaucracy in Europe” predicted calls for EU taxes earlier this year, said: “Unsurprisingly, the Commission’s main entry gate may be open to EU taxes, but I am sure ordinary taxpayer’s will close all doors and windows. No wonder the Commission launches it as its mid summer night's dream''.

Mr Lewandowski’s spokesman, Patrizio Fiorilli, told the media today that "the time is now to look into alternative sources of income for the EU budget," adding that in late September the Commissioner will set out a series of options for EU taxes, including a levy on air transport, a tax on financial transactions and the allocation of some of the funds from the planned auction of greenhouse gas emissions permits.

Mr Eppink saw the irony of the remarks. “The time is now only because the Commission is taking people by surprise when they are in the middle of their summer holidays, while tanning their bellies. It’s a well-known bureaucratic trick for announcing unwelcome things.” 

Speech during book launch 'Bonfire of Bureaucracy in Europe'

Ladies and gentlemen,


book_launch_smallThis book was born in the air, mid-Atlantic. Since I was elected last year, I have been commuting between Brussels, the capital of Europe, and New York, the capital of the world, where I used to live and where my family will be living until this summer. On these repetitive long flights I thought: what shall I do? After a while, I had heard all the music and had seen all films worthwhile seeing. So, I thought, why not write a book in the plane on a small laptop? Obviously, since I am member of the European Parliament, it would be a book on Europe. So this book is launched today because for many hours I had nothing better to do.


Writing a book is a process of creation. You start with some ideas, you have to design a structure and map out the storyline. In the end you have to write down the words. Context without text is empty, but text without context is meaningless.

The most important challenge of a book is to raise crucial questions. For me, the election last year was the fourth return to the European Parliament. I started here as an assistant in the 1980s, I often came to the European Parliament as a journalist in the 1990s and I returned as a member of the cabinet of the Commissioners Bolkestein and Kallas in the past decade. And now, I have been a member of this congregation for nearly one year.


Question one is: what am I doing here?


Question two is: what are all the others doing here?