Positief-kritische houding ten aanzien van Europa weer stijgende

Bij het Amerikaanse onderzoeksbureau PEW Research Center verscheen deze week een belangrijke survey, die een positievere houding ten aanzien van de EU laat zien. In tien EU landen werden mensen geinterviewd, waaruit blijkt dat er nergens buiten de UK meerderheden zijn om de EU te verlaten, dat mensen geloven dat deelname aan de EU per saldo positief is, maar wel vragen om betere democratische vormgeving, en kritisch zijn op het migratiebeleid en zorgen hebben over economische performance.


Zie voor het hele rapport:

administrator_ebnPositief-kritische houding ten aanzien van Europa weer stijgende
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Nominations EBN EuroNederlander announced, online vote open

The board of the European Movement in the Netherlands (EBN) is very happy to announce the Nominations for the EuroNederlander Award 2016/17, released today by the Award selection team.

This nominees are Nicolaas Beets, EU Urban Envoy, for his energetic role for the new EU Urban Agenda in the UAEU and in the lead up to the 2016 Pact of Amsterdam; Sophie Bloemen, for her innovative and hugely engaging efforts to organize the European Commons Assembly, connecting many civic initiatives in Europe; Caroline de Gruyter for her many outstanding journalistic contributions to shifting the frames of reflection regarding Europe in the Netherlands; and VPRO Tegenlicht for their inspiring series of cutting-edge documentaries about the rapidly changing positions of Europe in the world and their implications for citizens; and Jan Werts for the tireless energy with which he has played his critical Brussels watcher role as European media correspondent, guiding people through in a clear fashion through ithe Brussels arena.

Every year, the EBN EuroNederlander Award is given to individuals or organizations who have made remarkable contributions to the European debate and who have stimulated the search for new vitality and better alliances in Europe. The European Movement focuses in particular on the efforts of active and creative citizens, civil agencies and networks.

On-line voting open until June 19, 12.00h
From Friday June 9 to Monday June 19,  12.00h, you can cast your vote on one of the  nominees at:

Everybody is welcome to participate in the voting!

Award ceremony on Tuesday June 20 20.00h at International Press Center Nieuwspoort
The EuroNederlander Award ceremony will take place on June 20, 2017, 20.00 during the special EU-Poort event: ‘Europe Mezze: Meet-Up on Europe’s Futures’.Location: Internationaal Perscentrum Nieuwspoort, Lange Poten 10, The Hague

Please register at, if you wish to attend: and state: ‘EU EuroNederlander Award June 20’.

Further press details
Please contact: Godelieve van Heteren, chair EBN, email: Tel: 0655197342.

On the 2016/2017 EuroNederlander nominees



NICOLAAS BEETS is former Dutch Ambassador and since October 2015 Dutch Special Urban Envoy. Beets was appointed by the Minister for the Interior and Kingdom Relations,  currently works for the Cities Program (“Agenda Stad”) and has been an engaged advocate for the Urban Agenda for the EU (UAEU).  During the Dutch EU Presidency in 2016, Beets was the linking pin in coordinating the efforts to arrive at the festive signing of the ‘Pact of Amsterdam’ on May 30th, 2016, which launched the UAEU. The jury praises Beets for “his active contributions to building a vital Europe of Cities, and his enthusiasm and engagement in connecting with a wide array of urban innovators and authorities, and help link their efforts to the formal European policy agendas.” As a true ‘face of the Pact’, Beets has successfully continued his efforts after the Dutch Presidency, thus assuring that the momentum of the UAEU was kept.

The Urban Agenda for the EU is about strengthening the urban dimension in EU policies by involving cities more in EU policy making. It comprises a unique multilevel and cross-sectoral working method, in which for the first time Cities, Member States, EU institutions, European institutions and other stakeholders work together on urban challenges. In the framework of the UAEU, 12 thematic Partnerships have been set up covering challenges on how to make Cities: Smart, Sustainable and Inclusive. These partnerships will provide answers to major transition questions and produce recommendations for better EU regulation, better access to EU funding and better knowledge exchange for European cities. As indicated in the Pact of Amsterdam: “Urban Areas play a key role in pursuing the EU 2020 objectives and in solving many of its most pressing challenges (…). Urban Authorities play a crucial role in the daily life of all EU citizens. Urban Authorities are often the level of government closest to the citizens. The success of European sustainable urban development is highly important for the economic, social and territorial cohesion of the European Union and the quality of life of its citizens.”





Sophie Bloemen is a Dutch philosopher and political economist, and co-founder/Director of the Commons Network. She has over 10 years of experience in civil society activism and has worked as a policy advocate and a public interest consultant in Brussels, Latin America and other policy environments. She has worked on health and trade, as well as with European cultural grass root civil society movements.  Sophie kick-started several civil society initiatives and alliances, most recently the Dutch Commons Assembly ‘De Meent ‘.  As co-founder of the Danube Foundation, she travelled to many different European cities with the Utopian City Workshop to collect new narratives for Europe.  In 2016, Sophie Bloemen stood at the origin of the first European Commons Assembly.

The jury praises Sophie Bloemen for her “innovative input in the debate on new European Commons, which constitutes an important paradigm shift towards novel forms of cross-continent citizens cooperation and cherishing the common good”. The Commons Movement seeks to explore how people themselves can shape to their environment, how to deepen democracy and contribute to more social and sustainable ways of living together. The first European Commons Assembly brought together  ‘Commoners’ from around Europe: a wide range of citizens, from environmentalists and other Commons practitioners, to scientists, civil servants and politicians. The European Commons Assembly aims to increase the visibility of the rapidly growing number of Commons initiatives around Europe, facilitate their joint empowerment and contribute to new democratic forms and institutions.







Caroline de Gruyter is a Dutch author currently based in Vienna, who has lived in the Gaza strip, Jerusalem, Brussels and Geneva, and who is Europe correspondent for the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad. For many years, she has been covering European affairs and is also a regular contributor to Carnegie Europe.

From the jury’s report: “Over the last few years – in the face of much European political and social confusion and chagrin – Caroline de Gruyter has consistently focused on Europe’s potential and historical obligation, rather than on its indecisiveness and stagnation. De Gruyter refuses easy frames, counters common clichés and has shifted the spotlights to the many sites in which Europe’s social transitions are ongoing. She reminds her readers that ‘we are Europe’.” De Gruyter is a member of the European Council on Foreign Relations and has received a number of prestigious awards for her oeuvre, such as the Prix du Mérite Européen (June 2016).



Still from: VPRO Tegenlicht – Superfort Europa



VPRO Tegenlicht is a Dutch documentary television program at the frontiers of new social, economic and political developments. Over the last few years Tegenlicht has been in the vanguard, engaged in a wide range of exciting explorations of European and global developments.

The jury praises Tegenlicht for its “cutting-edge and critical contributions to raising viewers’ awareness of the complexities of European affairs in a rapidly changing global arena… from Eurotopia to Superfortress Europe, Tegenlicht’s filmmakers have entered consistently into the major transitions Europe is undergoing, and their effects on the lives of citizens. Tegenlicht’s future-oriented thematic productions are vital contributions to rethinking Europe’s democracy, economics, politics and civic engagement. They display curiosity in Europe as part of the larger world and take the viewer serious.”





Jan Werts is a journalist who for four decades has worked as ‘Brussels watcher’: among others as mediacorrespondent for the Haagsche Courant – Sijthoff Press and as independent author and columnist for the Montesquieu Institute, Clingendael Internationale Spectator and others. Werts holds a PhD from the Vrije Universiteit Brussels on the position and workings of the European Council, a thesis, which he defended cum laude in 1991 and which was revised and fully updated, and published as a book in 2008.

The jury praises Werts for “the consistent and critical ways in which Werts has succeeded to make the ‘goings on’ in Brussels accessible for a wide readership, for whom Europe’s politics often look distant and opaque. During all the recent trials and turbulations in Europe’s institutions Werts has remained loyal to his mission of critical communication and analysis. He is a very knowledgeable commentator who does not shy away from speaking out when he thinks it is vital…. but always with solid arguments!”


administrator_ebnNominations EBN EuroNederlander announced, online vote open
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EBN EuroDéfense bijdrage aan kabinetsformatie: voor meer coherent Europees veiligheidsbeleid

De internationale veiligheidsuitdagingen, en de geopolitieke verschuivingen in defensiebeleid ook onder sommige NATO partners, vragen om een helder en meer coherent Europees antwoord. Voor de kabinetsformatie stelde EuroDefense Nederland met deelname van de EBN bijgaande bijdrage samen die eind maart aan Edith Schippers werd aangeboden.
Zie Kabinetsformatie2017- aan Informateur.

administrator_ebnEBN EuroDéfense bijdrage aan kabinetsformatie: voor meer coherent Europees veiligheidsbeleid
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Europe’s next ‘moment of hope’ and the collective responsibility to deliver

The morning after the election of Emmanuel Macron to the presidency of France, many French and Europeans find themselves in a state of critical anticipation.

Certainly, many are glad and relieved to see that the presidency has gone to a person with an open social orientation, a constructive European stance. In a country with 23% youth unemployment and an economic order in dire need of reform, it is significant that many French citizens have put their hope in a relative ‘newcomer’ (“neither left nor right”), and dream that his election may shift the balances of power. At the same time, a substantial part of Macron’s electorate (43%) has primarily voted for him to keep his adversary Marine Le Pen out of the Élysée. Macron’s win in the first round amounted to merely 23,7%.  And En Marche’s political agenda (, especially its economic reform paragraphs, will take a lot of negotation to translate into practice, given France’s structures of vested interest.

The political landscape in France as elswhere in Europe is deeply divided and the political promise of a ‘brighter future’ still has to be delivered.

On Europe, Macron’s En Marche program is ambitious. It is focused on creating new employment, protecting Europe’s democratic values, investing in the eurozone, introducing a European minister of Economic Affairs and Finance, dealing with tax evasion, fighting against corporate flight, keeping European companies partially in Europe, with a Buy European Act. The French president wishes to generalize the Erasmus program to non-university student levels, create a proper European defence program, fight the many inefficiencies in European cooperation, protect crucial European industries, safeguard the internal market in which the same rules should apply to everybody, support start ups, create one energy market, with clear tariffs on carbon emission. This is a huge agenda for which senior negotiation skills will be required.

Fortunately, the main stakeholders in this European drama display a sense of gravitas. Nobody seems to be gloating: there is no reason for complacency.  It is clear enough to most that we live in times of major socio-economic and cultural transformations and ditto challenges that can only be addressed collectively. Polarizations as in the rhetoric of ‘patriots versus globalists’ or ‘winners versus loosers’ of globalisation are not helpful. They divide people at a time when all effort should go to reconnecting and uniting.

Furthermore, the current complexity of things is impossible for any single politician or group to handle. We need to free ourselves from any Messiah complext. We just have to recall how politicians like Barack Obama, Tony Blair or in our country Wouter Bos were also cheered into power, when they arrived as relative newcomers ‘full of promise’ on the scene: sooner or later, reality always kicks in.

Thus: if this is to be another moment of hope, we should not leave it to any president or political party to deliver, but construct it as an opportunity for a new social engagement and contract. Citizens will have to move out of their consumer or observers’ mode. We need to step up to the challenge as a matter of urgency.  Interestingly enough, Macron’s Europe paragraph contains an interesting starting point for such dialogue when it proposes ‘citizens conventions’ to construct the new agenda for Europe. Let’s make that concrete. Let’s start there to help ‘load’ and substantiate Europe’s future. Since Europe is us, it’s future is ours!

Godelieve van Heteren, chair EBN

administrator_ebnEurope’s next ‘moment of hope’ and the collective responsibility to deliver
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Senses of security, sources of inspiration, forms of inclusive action

With the presidential election results in France leaning towards a victory of Emmanuel Macron in a couple of weeks, and the elections in other European countries (Germany, the UK, Italy) on the horizon, the comments on the state of the European lands are abundant and critical. Across the board, we witness disillusionment with established politics, which in France expressed itself by two ‘outsiders’ – Macron and Le Pen – winning the first round and sidelining the two political families, which for years had called the shots.

En Marche is the name of Macron’s movement for France. This sounds pleasantly energetic, but the big question – for France as for the rest of Europe – is:  En Marche, towards what?

Much public debate seems to be devoted to an endless reiteration of the rather divergent expressions of public dissatisfaction. The spotlights are on people’s anxieties about their economic prospects in a globalized world, their unease with cultural diversity, the complaints about too many ‘outsiders’, or the popular anger at the complacency and lack of empathy of which they accuse those in power. Such analyses, however understandable and justified, are not very satisfactory, for two reasons. First, they are rarely carried to their ultimate, very painful conclusions regarding everybody’s exact responsibilities for the status quo. They tend to deteriorate into self-righteous hackling which detracts from the constructive alternatives that are – ironically – everywhere in the making.

We live a time of growing complexity, enhanced by a tremendous acceleration in communication and the mobility of money, markets and people. Numerous publications have documented the tensions and uncertainties caused by all this turbulence. They deliberate on who in the current dynamics actually gain power, who are loosing out and who – systematically – lag behind.

There is no shortage of diagnose. But the therapies are tough and thus postponed.

In line with our civic tradition and mission, the EBN has decided to focus specifically on exploring new possibilities for European cooperation. We work from a civic perspective, together with other European civic movements. We consciously connect ourselves with constructive European alternatives.

This has proven an inspiring exercise. There is a rich arena of such vital alternatives – some already quite developed, some in statu nascendi – which one could categorize under three broad categories.

  1. We see a range of activities, which address people’s senses of security in the broadest sense of the word. One can for instance think of all the new actions to secure our planet, the enthusiastic explorations of more sustainable economic models, the attempts to arrive at new socio-economic and social contracts and formulate new equity agendas.
  2. A second group of initiatives aims to articulate new sources of inspiration, new images and narratives, in the arts, in literature, and in many novel cultural alliances. You can e.g. also think of the exciting exchanges between people working ‘sharing economy’.
  3. And there are movements which focus on establishing new forms of action, new practices, such as is e.g. the case in the new network democracy initiatives that spring up in many places, or in the attempts to connect citizens across a wide array of subjects that affect us all..

From a basic awareness that it is vital to be ‘rooted’, ‘connected’, ‘inclusive’, many of these initiatives start locally. But thanks to social media, much quicker than before one can see people engage in building larger, national and international networks of enthusiastic citizens. Their vanguard frequently challenges established institutions. But in a growing number of cases they also interact creatively with established institutions, which recognize that time is up for old ways of going about their business. Think of the sustainable energy coalitons, for instance.

Looking at the European arena this way, it is clear that besides a politics of fear and a politics of muddling through – which still dominates the pages of our newspapers but is detrimental to the future of Europe – there is a politics of new vitalization in the making,  still trying to find its solid forms, but hopeful.  Here, a smart dialogue between the old ‘builders of Europe’ and the inspiring new initiatives may be of immense value. The EBN is well positioned to input its members’ wide experience into these new arenas. As partners in dialogue, in new coconstruction.

So, some wish to declare Europe moribund? Vive l’Europe! This is the time for Europe’s citizens. En marche!

Godelieve van Heteren, chair European Movement Netherlands

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Keren de demonen uit het verleden terug? Amper heeft Theresa May in Brussel haar afscheidsbrief afgegeven, of er dreigt al hommeles rond Gibraltar te ontstaan. Ofschoon niet strikt noodzakelijk, omdat dat vanzelf sprak, had Spanje meteen vastgelegd weten te krijgen dat bij de toekomstige onderhandelingen over een handelsakkoord van Europese zijde ook expliciet aan deze omstreden rots aandacht zal worden besteed.

Prompt dreigde de voormalige leider van de regerende Britse Tory’s Michael Howard desnoods de marine naar Gibraltar op te zullen laten stomen om de Spaanse Armada te vernietigen, mocht Madrid het wagen één vinger daarnaar uit te steken. Spanje reageerde daarop met de aankondiging zich niet te zullen verzetten, wanneer straks een pro-Europees Schotland na afscheiding van Londen in Brussel voor zichzelf het lidmaatschap zou aanvragen. Tot nu toe was Madrid altijd – zie Kosovo – zeer terughoudend geweest met het erkennen van afscheidingen, omdat het immers zelf vanouds met Catalaanse en Baskische ambities op dit vlak kampt.

De rel maakt twee dingen duidelijk. Ten eerste hoe gevoelig ook na vele eeuwen – Gibraltar is al sinds 1713 Brits – nog steeds territoriale kwesties tussen de Europese lidstaten kunnen liggen. Het Brexit-sentiment versterkt dit, omdat dat juist op het idee – zij het vooral een nostalgisch idee-fixe – van een glorieus Groot-Brittannië buiten de EU is gebaseerd. Bij een Britania-rule-the-waves past natuurlijk niet dat dan meteen al bij de eerste politieke golfslag een aanlegsteiger met zulke grote symbolische waarde in die golven verdwijnt.

In elk geval: wie mocht menen, dat de Britten een flegmatiek nuchter volk zijn, zou zich deerlijk vergissen. Democratieën voeren geen oorlog, zo heet het ook – maar zelden heb ik een land zo hysterisch gezien als Groot-Brittannië tijdens de Falklandsoorlog in 1982, toen het behoud van zo’n andere symbolische verzameling rotsen op het spel stond. Howard heeft niet voor niets al naar Margaret Thatcher verwezen, en presenteert May nu als Iron Lady 2.0.

Nu vallen er uiteraard ook bij de Spaanse claim kanttekeningen te plaatsen: hier hebben wij evenzeer te maken met onverwerkt verleden. Het land beroept zich daarbij meer of minder expliciet op ‘natuurlijke’ grenzen, maar die bestaan in Europa natuurlijk nergens echt.

IJsland vormt het enige voorbeeld – het grondgebied van dit land eindigt inderdaad op een logische plek – want al bij Ierland is dat niet gelukt. Bovendien staat tegenover het geografisch gekunsteld Britse Gibraltar het geografisch niet minder gekunsteld Spaanse duo Ceuta en Melilla, die Marokko een doorn in het oog zijn – en dáárover heeft Madrid het weer liever niet. Met het lostrappen van de steen Gibraltar dreigt zo een Doos van Pandora open te gaan.

En dat is het tweede, dat deze rel duidelijk maakt: hoe belangrijk de Europese Unie is voor het pacificeren van in feite onoplosbare territoriale conflicten – vaak onoplosbaar omdat geografisch en etnisch logische grenzen zelden geheel sporen. Gibraltar was ooit natuurlijk Spaans, maar de bevolking voelt zich Brits, en bij de democratische EU-gedachte behoort ook zoiets als zelfbeschikkingsrecht.

Anderzijds: bij Zuid-Tirol heeft als uitkomst van de Eerste Wereldoorlog juist de geografisch logischer grens het van de etnische gewonnen. Daaraan hebben de Geallieerden uiteindelijk ook in 1945, toen de Zuid-Tirolers op basis van dat zelfbeschikkingsrecht om herziening van Saint-Germain vroegen, niet willen tornen. Wie beide grenzen coûte-que-coûte met elkaar wil doen samenvallen om voor altijd van het probleem af te zijn, komt al snel bij dwangmatige assimilatie of etnische zuivering uit. Mussolini heeft dat in dit geval ook beide geprobeerd.

Pas na Schengen kon – de nodige bomaanslagen later – de kwestie Zuid-Tirol definitief worden bijgelegd. Maar zodra Schengen in de gevarenzone belandt, en op de Brenner opnieuw douane-hekken verrijzen, is het probleem weer in volle omvang terug. Dat is nu vooral de grote angst in Noord-Ierland, waar de pacificatie evenmin zonder de alles overkoepelende Europese Unie was gelukt.

Het aantal Noordieren dat deel uitmaakt van één Ierland binnen Europa boven deel uitmaken van een Groot-Brittannië daarbuiten prefereert, stijgt gestaag. Dan zou de natte droom van Nigel Farage van een Greater Britain wel eens in een Little England kunnen eindigen, waarvan de vloot niet meer de oceanen, maar nog enkel het Lake District beheerst.

Het gemak waarmee in Tory-kring al over oorlog wordt gesproken, zodra men zijn zin niet krijgt, is verontrustend. Met die luchthartigheid verschillen de Britten duidelijk van de landen op het continent. Tegenover het Nie wieder Krieg van het in 1945 kapotgebombardeerde Duitsland en het in 1918 in een maanlandschap veranderde Noord-Frankrijk staat het Britse sentiment van de tv-serie Dad’s Army, die in de jaren zeventig ook als ‘Daar komen de schutters’ door de VARA werd uitgezonden: die Tweede Wereldoorlog, toen wij Britten een jaar lang moederziel alleen dapper tegen Hitler knokten, was toch eigenlijk best wel knus.

Bij de handdruk in 1984 van Kohl en Mitterand in Verdun ontbraken niet toevallig de Britten. In Huis Doorn, sinds enkele jaren het centrum voor de Eerste Wereldoorlog in Nederland, vond in 2013, aan de vooravond van de honderdjarige herdenking, een symposium plaats. Een van de sprekers was een Duits historicus die werkzaam was in Londen. Daar, zo vertelde hij, zie je boeken met titels als ‘Hunting Rommel’ – alsof het om een sportwedstrijd ging. Maar voor de Britten is het simpel: we stonden in 1914 en 1939 aan de goede kant, en hebben beide keren gewonnen. So, what’s the problem? Vraag dat de Duitsers en de Fransen.

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Revitalisering van Europa start in de Regio

EBN Leden Interview: Gesprek met EBN-erelid Hans van Borselen
Terwijl Europa van alle kanten onder druk staat, borrelen tegelijkertijd overal nieuwe initiatieven op. En gaat een aantal Europeanen van het eerste uur intussen gestaag door.  Hans van Borselen is een van de mensen die sinds jaar en dag de slogan hanteert dat de regio de sleutel tot Europa is. Van Borselen, 37 jaar lid van de EBN en sinds de zomer van 2016 erelid van de Vereniging stond aan de wieg van het Europa Netwerk Noord-Nederland, dat drie tot vier keer per jaar bijeen komt om met enthousiaste Europeanen uit Groningen, Friesland en Drenthe thema’s te bespreken die mensen direct raken. Daarnaast spreekt Hans als ervaringsdeskundige veel met jongeren over Europese zaken. 

Wat motiveerde je destijds om lid te worden van de EBN ?
Dat heeft te maken met de belangstelling voor Duitsland. Mijn eerste vrouw was half-Duits. In 1977 schreef Jerome Heldring een column geschreven in de NRC over hoe weinig er geschreven werd over Duitsland en dat het beginnen met Duitslandstudies zeer gewenst zou zijn. Ik heb hem de volgende dag opgebeld met de vraag of hij en ik aan de slag konden gaan met de voorbereidingen voor het stichten van een Duitsland –Instituut. Heldring organiseerde samen met mij een werkgroep met zwaargewichten uit politiek, wetenschap en journalistiek. Er zijn daarna in 1979 twee goede conferenties georganiseerd met personen uit boven genoemde sectoren. Thema’s waren de Duitse eenheid, de Duitse veiligheid, de situatie in de Bondsrepubliek en de Nederlandse-Duitse betrekkingen. In de discussie kwam geregeld de relatie tussen Duitsland en Europa aan de orde. Die inleidingen zijn gebundeld in het boekje In de schaduw van Duitsland.

Vlak daarna heeft de EBN een lezing georganiseerd over Duitsland in het kader van de EU. De inleiding werd gehouden door Wim van Eekelen, toen staatssecretaris Europa. Een werkgroep uit de EBN wilde een rapport schrijven over de situatie in de BRD en de gevolgen daarvan voor Nederland. Het initiatief voor dit rapport werd genomen door Yvonne van Rooy, toen voorzitter van de EBN afdeling den Haag. De werkgroep bestond uit Jan Bron Dik, Bert Doorn en ondergetekende. De drie thema’s waren politiek, economie en defensie. De titel van dit rapport was “Is Duitsland ( ons) de baas” ? Wanneer je Duitsland noemt heb je het gauw over Europa ?

Wat zijn de veranderingen in de Europese zaak die jou het meest beziggehouden hebben de afgelopen jaren?
Dat burgers weinig of geen belangstelling hebben voor de EU. Dat de EU moeilijk in elkaar steekt, maar dat met concrete en praktische zaken een en ander verduidelijkt kan worden en dat de EU veel bereikt heeft voor de Europese burgers, met name vanwege de positieve effecten van de Interne markt. Tenslotte zijn te veel Europeanen ervan overtuigd dat de EU  de  baas is van de EU-landen. Velen weten niet dat de Europese Commissie alleen voorstellen doet op basis van initiatieven van Europese landen, dat de nationale regeringen daarmee instemmen en dat daarna het Europese Parlement zijn goedkeuring moet verlenen.

Wat is jouw analyse van de huidige situatie waarin Europa zich bevindt ?
Algemeen wordt geconcludeerd dat er te veel en overbodige regelgeving bestaat evenals een zware bureaucratie. Een aantal EU-leden wil zo min mogelijk bemoeizicht vanuit “Brussel” of wil zelfs uittreden, zoals dat zich ontwikkelt in het VK, en mogelijk ook in andere landen. Als gaat blijken dat uittreden grote negatieve economische gevolgen heeft dan zullen andere landen zich nog eens achter de oren krabben. Volgens mij gaat de Brexit op de duur naar een Bretin, en beseffen de lidstaten dat er weer meer eenheid komt om Europa  sterk te houden, onder het voorbehoud dat kritisch wordt gekeken welke hervormingen binnen de EU broodnodig zijn.

Wat zijn je belangrijkste ervaringen met het Europese Netwerk van Noord-Nederland?
Er zijn veel niet-commerciële en commerciële organisaties en instellingen die meer en meer geïnteresseerd zijn in de EU. Maar  tot  begin van deze eeuw was er nog geen platform in het noorden des lands waar deze organisaties elkaar regelmatig konden ontmoeten om samen de relaties met “Brussel” te bespreken en op verschillende punten gezamenlijk op te treden. We hebben dat platform opgebouwd. En vanwege alle contacten zijn er ook bilaterale samenwerkingsverbanden  tussen deelnemers ontstaan, voornamelijk gericht op “Brussel”. Het Netwerk trekt veel deelnemers, zeker als bekende Europa-deskundigen het woord voeren. We richten ons op actuele ontwikkelingen vanuit deze regio die een Europees karakter hebben. Sinds het begin van dit platform is er bovendien altijd een groep studenten MBO/HBO uit Friesland betrokken geweest, die veel gelezen hebben over Europa en binnen hun opleiding al een basiskennis over de EU verworven hebben.

Waarom is voor  jou de regionale benadering het antwoord op de Europese malaise?
Het gaat om de schaal van betrokkenheid. Het is niet voor niets dat een groot deel van de middelen van de EU bestaat uit gelden die bestemd zijn voor regio’s. De drie noordelijke provincies vormen samen zo’n regio die een goed aanzien heeft bij Europese Commissie in Brussel. De schaal van het Platform zelf is ook zo: het is niet te ver of te dichtbij en deelnemers zijn bereid om een bepaalde reis te maken naar Groningen, Leeuwarden of Emmen. We vergaderen per toerbeurt in deze drie gemeenten. Het ligt in de bedoeling om bijeenkomsten van het Platform samen te organiseren met aanverwante en relevante organisaties in desbetreffende gemeenten. Deze aanpak levert meer deelnemers en meer inkomsten op.

Voor cv van EBN erelid Hans van Borselen, zie pdf

administrator_ebnRevitalisering van Europa start in de Regio
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EBN @ ‘Europe at 60’ in Rome The burning need to reconnect Europe’s citizens

March 25-26, 2017 was a most curious weekend in the Italian capital where people from all over Europe had gathered on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome. With the political unease mounting in the wake of Brexit, the Trump election, and with various elections in EU member states on the horizon, not everybody was in the mood for a party.

Walking across town, one could see the closed-off areas around the buildings where the European officials would meet; witness the separate avenues reserved for the seven different citizens’ marches (and never the seven should meet); and come across the few remaining, slightly disoriented Saturday shoppers and tourists looking for diversions. Most local Romans had stayed home, discouraged by the fact that several main museums, tourist sites and popular shops had closed their doors out of fear of possible ‘terrorist attacks or riots’… Sure, you never know these days.

As if to challenge and defy the troubled, soul-searching atmosphere surrounding this 60th anniversary of the European postwar project, a beautiful Roman spring sun was shining over the various pro- and anti-European passionados taking to the streets. Red, orange and pink blossoms on all trees, gorgeous light on all the Roman antiquities. Another Europe asserting itself.

The EBN was represented in Rome all day on Saturday, and first attended the full-house political forum ‘Europe fights back’, organized by the European Movement International, together with the UEF and Young European Federalists. In a packed Centro Congressi Roma Eventi, just behind the Piazza di Spagna, a chorus of political figures, MEPs, MPs, academics, journalists, civil society and youth representatives joined other European activists to discuss the future of Europe in a series of lively panels.

In the spirit of the special letter recently issued by the honorary council of the European Movment International (, most panelists were constructive but not uncritical. As one of the panelists, Guy Verhofstadt, had it: ‘We are critical of Europe but not so stupid as to want to destroy it.’

When asked what people valued about all the work done in the European institutions over the last 60 years, most answers echoed the importance of the relative peace on the continent since the late 1940s. People underscored the basic values of security and prosperity to which the EU had substantially contributed. As several speakers reiterated: Europe may have been reshaped many times, but its values remain. They reminded the audience of the ways in which for decades the European institutions had managed to check the ugliest expressions of national egotism, which in the past so often had torn the continent apart.

Most speakers, however, were far from complacent. Pointing to the many worrying signs of new nationalism, everybody agreed that the familiar post-WWII narratives no longer suffice. Time has come for a bold revisiting of the EU, involving new pledges to Europe’s core values and a firmer institutional reconfiguration to live up to Europe’s promises. Many felt that too much energy had already been wasted in internal strife. No surprise, the EU had lost much of its ‘sexyness’ and appeal among large groups of citizens.

Many speakers mounted strong pleas for ‘major acts of courage and new institutional vision’. Much more coordinated attention should be paid to the great challenges and transformations of our days in the domains of climate, energy, ecology, new economic policies, new democracy. Several contributors argued for a smart transfer of power to citizens, notably the young. In the words of the president of the European Youth Forum: ‘The youth are not just the future of Europe, they are its present’. All agreed that 2017 should be a year of much deeper reform and conserted action, to prevent the European project from disintegrating under our eyes.

Around mid-day, the congress participants transferred to the Piazza Bocca della Verità (‘mouth of truth’), to join the March for Europe, organized by a series of pro-Europe organizations.


Thousands of people joined this march to the Colosseum, where speakers reminded the crowds about Europe being primarily a humanistic project.


Meanwhile, a couple of miles away from the Colosseum on the Via Cavour, a March of the Movement of Nationalists had gathered a thousand people, carrying banners for ‘La Patria’, ‘Our own Identity and Against this Europe’, ‘for national sovereignty’, and against ‘gender and gays’, ‘banks’, ‘Bolkestein’ or anti the ‘EU’ full-stop (as in ‘Fuck EU’).

In yet another quarter of the city, in the Teatro di Roma, the DiEM25 movement – led by Yanis Varoufakis and rapidly gathering force among people interested in new democratization of Europe -was preparing its large-scale event ‘A New Deal for Europe: A Time of Courage’, scheduled for later that day.

(See link to live stream recording:

Walking around town and attending these various events, three observations stood out. All Europe gatherings in town had attracted people with considerable energy and passion. All marches had mobilized a clear percentage of young people, albeit with very different voices. And all gatherings took place in their own spaces, without much interaction with the other assemblies:  people uttering their views on Europe in a troubling kind of segregation, with no visible attempts to connect.

This exposes perhaps the most pressing challenge to anyone interested in European reform. As is increasingly manifest, for instance in the results of recent elections around Europe, we are facing widening social divides between citizens and hardening silos. In the face of this predicament, a much more fundamental labour of reconnection is required. The current anguish in Europe has many well-documented sources: economic, cultural, effects of globalization. But rather than rearticulating the same anxieties over and over again in segregated spaces of deliberation among like-minded people, we need to re-establish new meeting- and dialogue arenas to find some degree of common ground and shared solutions between people of different walks of life.

So here’s the burning question. Can we drop the unproductive anguishing in segregated spaces (online and offline) plaguing European discussions today and start devoting considerable energy to reconnecting? Can we prioritize the creation of more shared spaces to come up with solid solutions for the future? Can we put the rich traditions of knowledge of Europe to better common use? Can we actually meet face to face for proper dialoue, engage in more respectful exchanges and explorations, and build a fairer future from there? Can we? Still?

Godelieve van Heteren, chair European Movement Netherlands (EBN)

administrator_ebnEBN @ ‘Europe at 60’ in Rome The burning need to reconnect Europe’s citizens
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Dutch Elections and Europe: the Dutch political ‘center’ asserting itself no reason for complacency

The Dutch elections have passed, Dutch people have spoken. After months of heated debate and fierce campaigning, 80% of Dutch electorate came out to the ballot box yesterday to cast their vote. All of Europe was watching, and many commentators expressed a sigh of relief when the party of mr. Wilders (PVV) did not become the largest. Quickly people claimed this to be ‘a victory for Europe’, or in the words of the current PM: “A clear ‘no’ to ‘the wrong kind of populism’.”

This may be a bit too quick a conclusion.

It is early in the day. The final results will only be confirmed by next Tuesday. It may be wise to take a deeper look at the complex party political landscape of the Netherlands and try to assess what actually emerged yesterday.

For weeks, the polls indicated a close call between the Conservative VVD of the current Dutch PM, mr. Rutte, and the PVV of mr. Wilders, each fighting for the lead which in the Netherlands as coalition country gives one the first right to form a coalition government. After the diplomatic clash between the current government of the Netherlands and the Turkish government over an unwanted proposed referendum rally by Turkish ministers in Rotterdam last week, it appeared that many people last minute turned to the VVD instead of the PVV, landing mr. Rutte’s party in a comfortable lead yesterday.

Overall, a majority of Dutch citizens yesterday turned to the established center parties. If this election shows anything, it is that the tacit Dutch political center reasserted itself. However – and here is the major caveat – it would be misleading to read this as back to business-as-usual. Underneath the ‘grey-right or green-right’ coalition government, which will most likely now emerge, several strong socio-economic and cultural changes are manifest, which constitute the deeper transformations in the Dutch political arena. And they may not be unique for The Netherlands.

These changes can no longer be characterised in terms of traditional opposites. Especially among the younger electorate, left-versus-right labeling no longer applies, if you see which shifts-of-parties voters have actually made. Generally speaking: people vote much less collectively, and much more on the basis of individual current concerns. They vote less for ‘programs and manifestos’, more for individuals/individual issues and different senses of self and future. However, people are still carried by deeper cultural preferences, which are not always so explicitly discussed.

What appeared yesterday is that:

  • Young people have voted in large numbers for social liberal parties as D66 (liberal democrats), the Greens and an ecological party (Animal Welfare party PvdD). For their European orientation, this choice can be welcomed, since all these parties propose international openness, a strong, reformed Europe, and inspirational politics, which is what especially the young Green Party leader was offering his supporters. However, many of the youths which came out in strides to support these parties are middle-class, higher educated. It remains to be seen how many of the other youths actually voted. Recent reports worried about their connection to the political scene, specific groups of youths may have stayed home.
  • ‘Identity politics’ and specific issue parties dealing with basic human rights (such as Art. 1) have entered the scene. One ‘identity party’ DENK, a spin-off of the Labour party, strongly focusing on the rights of migrant communities, has swept up the votes of some people in migrant communities (2-3 seats), who traditionally voted Labour. Their concerns are serious, their gains may also relate partially to the conflict with Turkish president Erdogan last week, which left many Dutch citizens of Turkish background uneasy.
  • The Dutch social democrat party (PvdA) has lost dramatically and is now reduced to being the 7th party in the Parliament. The Socialist party (SP) is the sixth party and also lost one seat (against the expectations in the polls). The Labour losses were especially dramatic in the cities. The major urban centers have turned to the Conservatives on the one hand (i.e. entrepreneurs, SMEs, corporate interests, e.g. Rotterdam) and to the D66 and Greens (new urban liberalism, e.g. Amsterdam, Utrecht, Groningen) on the other. Thus, the traditionally Labour/social democrat urban centers such as Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Groningen, Utrecht etc Labour have moved to three other parties, leaving the social democrates diminished to their very hard core electorate.
  • This continues a downward trend for the social democrats, which has been there for a while but was blurred by the unexpected, tactical victory the party had in the 2012 elections. Whereas Labour had already lost much of its old Labour base (unions etc.) to the Socialist Party before the 2012 elections, they now also seem to have lost many of their higher educated, liberal progressive urban voters and many of the young. A very dramatic result indeed, which deprives them of a lot of innovative power and social base. Much of this needs to be further analyzed. Commentators seek the initial answer for Labour’s demise in the ‘governmental style and self-centeredness’ the party has adopted in government, and the fact that the compromises they had to strike with the Conservatives were often harder to explain to Labour supporters (many of the policies being closer to Conservative dictums). It is significant, however, that the Socialist Party did not benefit from Labour’s loss either. In fact, some of the SP voters may actually have transferred to the Wilders party, as people who feel nobody is looking after their interests.
  • The shifting electoral sympathies also demonstrate that the party-political system is not a very strong vehicle of ideological positions anymore. People switch more easily between parties. This is reflects deeper socio-cultural and economical divides, even within the current parties, which are visible in the following:
  • The ultra-conservative, national conservative and nationalist forces are now spread over a part of VVD, part of the Christian-Democrats, Wilders party PVV and Forum for Democracy, the small Christian parties and part of the Socialist Party (SP). They are split into center conservatives (i.e. VVD Conservatives, part of the Christian-Democrats and the small Christian parties, which add up to 60/150 seats; nationalist populist forces (Wilders PVV and Forum voor Democratie), which up to 22/150 seats; and old Socialist party forces which are culturally often conservative (14/150).
  • The progressive, urban liberal democratic, Green and ecological forces are spread over D66, Greens and PvvD and add up to 38 of the 150 seats) (19 plus 14 plus 5 seats respectively). The Dutch Labour party is reduced to 9 seats and has to reinvent itself. It is very unclear where it will position itself in opposition and from what premises it will seek its regeneration, a situation which again is not unique for The Netherlans, but in different forms and shapes also applies to social democrats in other European countries.
  • This Dutch election was characterized by the emergence of a wide range of new small parties, many representing specific issues of identity or cultural roots not served sufficiently by the major parties. The fact that none, except for DENK and the Forum for Democracy (FvD), made the threshold to enter Parliament does not diminish the importance of this trend of fragmentation.

Given all these subplots, we should be very wary of settling too quickly into a victorious rhetoric, or fall into the trap of new complacency. Surely, progressive Europe constructive parties will enter government. And surely, the Wilders forces did not take the lead. For a variety of reasons, they dispersed. And yes, identity and one-issue parties did not win major gains. But the sentiments are there and represent real concersn of people and a tough set of social challenges, which in a mature democracy should not be ignored.

Adding everything up, the social polarization is not gone. The mixed majority of Dutch moderates has asserted itself. But at least 20-30% of the Dutch electorate feels attracted to nationalist policies, feels underserved by established politics and expresses fear or opposition to internationalism, multiculturalism and ‘Europe’ as an anonymous projection screen. The fact that many of the Wilders supporters voted last-minute for the Conservatives does not mean their discontents have now subsided. The people attracted to Wilders are now spread over Wilders own party (PVV), the VVD (the winning Prime Minister’s party), the newcomer Forum for Democracy (with 2 seats), the CDA and others.

The fragmentation and continued social disconnects put a huge burden on whoever will govern next, to build the bridges, of the kind that during election campaigns are never built.

Godelieve van Heteren, chair EBN

administrator_ebnDutch Elections and Europe: the Dutch political ‘center’ asserting itself no reason for complacency
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