Fed up with paternalism from Brussels

Schuman lecture by former state secretary Prof. Rick van der Ploeg

Only because the poll cards will soon drop on the doormat, otherwise hordes of people would hardly know that there are European parliament elections on 4 June.
Europe’s popularity has reached an all-time low, says Oxford Professor Rick van der Ploeg. On 7 May, the former Dutch state secretary for culture and media (1998 to 2002) will present the Schuman lecture, organised by Studium Generale.
More than ever, ‘euroscepticism’ is taking hold all around since the Netherlands and France voted ‘no’ to the European constitution in 2005. Political parties to the extreme left and extreme right are stirring up this scepticism, according to Van der Ploeg. “It is happening all over Europe. The left wing is making mince of all those right-wing, neoliberal, economic policy reforms. And the right wing is scared stiff that too many immigrants will enter Europe.”
No matter what, many Dutch people feel that the EU interferes in too many areas. Van der Ploeg actually feels this way too. “It is about time that Europe releases its hold on national policies on agriculture or culture, and starts to concentrate on issues that actually matter: environmental pollution, climate problems, credit crisis, terrorism, and the integration of minorities. In short, what we need is a new agenda.”
Besides this interfering, Van der Ploeg thinks that citizens have had enough of the paternalism by the “enlightened elites” in Brussels, “who know what is good for the Europeans. It is high time that the closed-door politics disappeared, and that the competing political parties who all have presented well-defined programmes fought the battle for power out in the open.”


Maurice Timmermans

The Schuman lecture by Prof. Rick van der Ploeg is on Thursday 7 May (20:00 hrs,) in the lecture hall on Tongersestraat 53. Free entrance

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