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On the first of November, it’s the Zeelanders’ turn to speak

29 October 2017

On the first of November, it’s the Zeelanders’ turn to speak

It’s always inspiring to present an evening on ‘Europe’ to one of our branches. On Wednesday 1st November I’ll be doing that in Goes in Zeeland,the westernmost and least populous province of the Netherlands, down near the Belgian border. This will be a public meeting, which everyone will be welcome to attend, and the main question I want to address will be how we can establish a form of cooperation in which ordinary citizens take the lead role. I’m extremely curious to hear the refreshing ideas on this which I know there are in Zeeland. In any case on 1st November the Zeelanders themselves will take the floor. The only people I want to stay at home are the bankers and managers of major corporations, whose views are already given too much of a hearing in Brussels.

In May, 2019 European elections will be held once again, and the European Parliament is already preparing for a new campaign: no longer top down, but one based on an inventarisation of what the citizens of the member states find important. But with this we still haven’t really got there, because all too quickly you arrive at such campaignslogans as “the European Union ensures free Wi-Fi in major cities” or “the European Union ensures that when you go on holiday there will be no additional costs for use of the internet or for phone calls”. All well and good, but really listening means speaking with members of the public the year round, including and especially with those who are most critical. Instead it’s still the bankers and lobbyists from big corporations who are paid the most attention. Even former Commission president Jose Barroso, who now works for the bank of dirty dealings, aka Goldman Sachs, has fed his face in the company of a European Commissioner. That stinks.

The real challenge for the European Union is to be ready to address the consequences of its policies for the enormous group of member state citizens who have had it up to here with what currently passes for European cooperation, a form which is hard to follow and in which as a citizen you are seen principally as a consumer or means of production. The SP must go in search of an alternative form of cooperation, one without pompous, strutting people in Brussels bossing the show, but one instead with a clear and comprehensible system of decision-making, and above all a form of cooperation directed at protection not by the market, but from the market. Together we can take on this challenge, and the evening in Goes will contribute to this, just as previous “Europe evenings”, such as the one in Zutphen with my colleague Renske Leijten, Member of Parliament, have done, as will those my fellow MEP Anne-Marie Mineur and I are planning to hold throughout the country over the next few months. Together we can build a movement to change the European Union, a movement which will also make its voice heard in the campaign for the next European elections.

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