Jo Ritzen, President of the Executive Board, would like to become a member of the European Parliament. He said this in an interview with the newspaper Trouw this weekend, in which he looked backed on his career. Having been asked what he was going to do when his contract with the UM expires (beginning of 2011), he answered: “I have always felt that being a member of parliament was not my cup of tea, but I have to say that I think differently about that now. I have matured enough, I think. That is why I would like to nominate myself for the European Parliament."
This is what he would prefer, he stated to Observant, to being a member of the Dutch Lower House, because Europe “is the future, also for the Netherlands,” and also because he has more affinity with Europe than with a national approach to problems. He wants to focus on education, (including “better accessibility and room for excellence”), health care (“opening the border regions for cross-border care”) and innovation.
The problem is, however, that the next European elections will be held in 2014, so it will not be a quick transfer. Ritzen himself has said before that he would not mind being Executive Board President for a little longer. He now says that he certainly would not aspire to a full third term (of four years): “I will have to decide what to do in the coming weeks and months.”
Cautious criticism was heard in the university council the last few months about the possible extension of Ritzen’s mandate as UM President. However, the topic has not been the subject of a debate. Chairman of the supervisory board, Ad Veenhof, also gave his opinion on the matter (even though it was in general terms). He said in this paper that the new president should suit the profile for the position that will be drawn up as soon as the strategic plan for the UM has been finalised, this summer. Veenhof will test that plan against three criteria, two of which focus on consolidation and ‘deepening’ and the third on ‘new projects’. The supervisors will have to assess to what degree Ritzen, who is known for his dynamic character and his inexhaustible reservoir of new plans, fits into what is largely a consolidating strategy.