Van Bommel: Wim Kok unsuitable choice for EU ‘Council of the Wise’

4 October 2006

Van Bommel: Wim Kok unsuitable choice for EU ‘Council of the Wise’

SP Member of Parliament and European Affairs spokesman Harry van Bommel has described former PvdA (Labour) prime minister Wim Kok as an unsuitable choice for the so-called “Council of the Wise”, an ad hoc body brought together at European level to consider the future of the EU and the European Constitution. “Kok is the symbol of the old Europe, an EU to which the Dutch people have given a resounding ‘NO’,” Van Bommel said.

Last week weekend saw the gathering in Rome of a group of ex-prime ministers and former European Commissioners. Its purpose was to enable them to discuss the future of the EU in the wake of the French and Dutch ‘No’ votes in referenda on the proposed European Constitution. Former Dutch premier Wim Kok was amongst the participants, and this prompted Harry van Bommel to ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs for an explanation of Kok’s presence, given that, according to the SP Member, the man is totally unsuitable for such a task. “Ex-premier Kok is a representative of the old Europe,” Van Bommel told the minister. “He is responsible, amongst other things, for the introduction of the euro and for the retention of the Lisbon agenda, which is supposed to make the EU’s economy the most competitive in the world by 2010.”

“I ask myself for that matter what the significance is of such a talking shop, functioning as it does without any democratic control. The Dutch people’s ‘No’ to the European Constitution revealed the enormous gap between leaders and ordinary citizens. One of the lessons that politicians should have taken from this was that closer attention must be paid to what the public is thinking. Discussion of the future of the EU should not therefore be conducted behind closed doors.”

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