The first major debate in the run-up to the European elections on 23 May is over. The Dutch leaders of twelve parties taking part in the European Parliament elections debated with each other from Museum Prinsenhof in Delft about the most important European themes. Labor migration, climate, asylum policy and the rule of law: it was all covered.
Who are those leaders and where are they on these points?
Three hundred million Europeans can live, live and earn money anywhere in Europe. It is the basis of European economic cooperation.
And the Netherlands benefits from cheaper European workers from Southern and Eastern Europe.
But that is precisely what is causing growing concern. Are our borders too wide open for workers from other European countries? Or should we make it even easier to work throughout Europe and to be able to take unemployment benefits to the home country?
PvdA member Frans Timmermans is against “restoring national borders”. “You don't help anyone with that and it is no longer possible in this globalized world.” He argues for betting on higher wages.
About the fraud with unemployment benefits in Eastern European countries that Nieuwsuur has reported extensively about, Timmermans says that the labor inspectorate has acted too weakly. He argues for a European labor authority.
Marcel de Graaff (PVV) is strongly against that. “It is a typical reflex to point out that there must be a European authority. We have to get rid of that.” De Graaff believes that the approach to this type of fraud should be better controlled nationally.
The Paris climate agreement was the moment of solemn promises three years ago. There were plans: CO2 emission prices, diesel filters and plastic bans, the EU would set a good example. But the implementation of Paris is not going very smoothly in many countries in practice.
Should the EU take over the implementation of all that climate policy or do countries themselves take over?
Derk Jan Eppink of Forum for Democracy does not want to spend billions on climate measures. According to him, the impact is often very small: “We must not get rid of the gas, that is something like getting rid of God.” According to Bas Eickhout (GroenLinks), Eppink thus serves Shell and the Russians.
Esther de Lange (CDA) wants to do something about the climate, but only if it is affordable: “Forum raises the middle finger to the next generation. GroenLinks is the finger of the finger. Let's be the helping hand.”
Anja Hazekamp from the Party for the Animals says: “Doing nothing costs us many times more than drastic measures.” Moreover, she states that a shrinking of the livestock industry is a necessity: “We cannot say that we will take climate policy seriously if we do not include the livestock industry.”
The massive arrival of Syrian refugees in Europe tore European politics in two. More than a million migrants, mainly from Syria, traveled through Europe.
The EU is hopelessly divided about implementation. Eastern Europe refuses to take over migrants, Italy and Greece are left with problems.
The leaders of the debate debated the question: should the EU do more to stop asylum seekers or to receive more asylum seekers?
Malik Azmani (VVD) advocates stopping asylum seekers by making deals with African countries, following the example of the Turkey deal.
According to Eickhout (GroenLinks), the circumstances in the refugee camps are dire and that situation is being maintained to deter refugees. He wants a joint EU refugee policy.
The rule of law
It's not been a war in Europe for 75 years. The pro-European camp owes peace and prosperity to the EU, but it is clear that not everyone feels that way. The Hungarians close universities and restrain the media, the Poles appoint judges again politically. And the British are leaving the EU.
Do we still share the same values and can Brussels enforce those values?
Toine Manders of 50PLUS says about this: “Of course we have to intervene hard if Poland and Hungary do not comply with the rules.”
In 't Veld (D66) and Azmani (VVD), European Commissioner Timmermans attacks his policy towards Eastern European countries that do not abide by the rules of the rule of law. According to those parties, Timmermans has done too little to call Poland and Hungary to order.