Timmermans to be 2nd man in Brussels- Rutte

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No image availableNL Times

Just an hour after Minister Frans Timmermans' meeting with President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels on Tuesday, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte confirmed in Parliament that the Foreign Affairs Minister is indeed the Dutch candidate for the new commission, and that he is eyed to be the second-most important man in the new European Commission under Juncker, De Volkskrant reports. 

In the coming five years, the Minister will have to supervise his colleagues on their implementation of certain agreed spearhead points in their policies. Sources tell De Volkskrant that Timmermans will be Juncker's running mate, and that he should have the power to push or to lay aside any proposals, as well as to appoint civil servants where he deems them necessary.

Prime Minister Rutte said in Parliament that he has all the trust that the PvdA Minister will play his important role well, for the EU as well as for The Netherlands. The Prime Minister gave no hint as to what Timmermans' portfolio might look like.

In his speech for the H.J. Schoo reading, which is a yearly reading organized by the editors of weekly paper Elsevier, on Tuesday, Timmermans was invited to speak about eastern Ukraine after his emotional and by now famous speech at the UN Security Council. The Minister also outlined his vision on Europe.

For many million non-Europeans, Europe is the "promised land" of freedom and democracy, Timmermans says. He believes European integration is the alternative for war and struggle. "Europeans claim freedom, democracy, protection by the law, and communal rulings for issues that are not attainable for every individual as the right to a safety net if you are sick, jobless or too old to work, to access to education on the basis of talent."

His speech also touched on current threats, with "the most extremist fundamentalists in the Middle-East, the most radical nationalistic politicians from Russia - they direct their anger at us because they are scared that the European way of living will look more attractive for their own population."

Geopolitical tensions were not neglected in Timmermans's speech. The Minister directed some pointed criticism at Russia's President Putin, who he says is "scared" of his countrymen declaring support for the EU on Red Square. Putin's "escalation tactics" have to be stopped, Timmermans says.

Timmermans also warns that Russia is not a country that will back down, and that 'we' must be prepared for sanctions. "What we cannot allow ourselves to do is to give in to the logic of land-grabbing whenever you don't get your way, of the admissibility of military activities in a neighboring country to destabilize that country and to get that country on its knees economically and politically. The logic, once allowed, will also have the tendency to pop up somewhere else. The rhetoric of President Putin, and the now long-drawn out extreme, aggressive nationalistic rhetoric in the Russian media suspect the worst."