The Toilet Duck and the European Commission

14 June 2018

The Toilet Duck and the European Commission

The president of the European Parliament, the useless Italian Berlusconi fan Antonio Tajani, was beside himself with joy. The latest figures from the European opinion pollster Eurobarometer showed that the European Union had never been so popular. For the Dutch people, this type of self-recommendation brings to mind the Toilet Duck, as I shall explain.

In the case of the Netherlands, for example, a good 79% of those interviewed felt that they could make their voices heard in the EU, putting the Dutch third in the league table after Denmark and Sweden. 

The only qualification that Eurobarometer made to this was to note that people over 65, and the less well off, lagged well behind. Incidentally, Eurobarometer believes that those over 65 are invariably people on pensions, so presumably they support the SP's campaign “65 stays 65”, which is designed to restore that situation. 

Eurobarometer is financed and managed by the European Commission. Some years ago, the manufacturers of the toilet cleaner known in Dutch as the WC-eend, and in English as the Toilet Duck, came up with the witty slogan “We makers of WC-eend recommend WC-eend”. The slogan entered the Dutch language as an expression used whenever someone gives advice that clearly serves his or her own interests. There has rarely been a clearer example of this, and while Tajani was an exception, in general the statistics were taken with a pinch of salt. 

That was the correct response, because as someone from the media outside the Brussels bubble wrote, how can you explain these figures when the voters in ever more countries are electing eurosceptic governments? Italy is the most recent example of this, but Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Austria preceded them. 

The chasm between the Brussels bubble and reality grows wider by the day. People in southern Europe have had enough of the impoverishment that the euro has inflicted on them and people in central and eastern Europe have turned against migrants. Meanwhile the Junckers and Tajanis do their dance of delight and hope for a pleasing European Parliament election result next year. They'll wake up to a shockingly cold reality when the results are announced. There could easily be for the first time a eurosceptic majority in the European Parliament. So we in the SP must try to ensure that it's coloured red, because the dark alternative of the extreme right is very good at demolishing things, but can provide no solutions for ordinary people.

Dennis de Jong is a Member of the European Parliament for the SP. This article first appeared, in the original Dutch, in the SP monthly Tribune. 

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