Political leader cautions against dangers of populism

Alexander Pechtold (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Pepijn Leupen - D66)Alexander Pechtold (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Pepijn Leupen - D66)

During its time as president of the European Union, the Netherlands should be careful of the dangers of populism and must not be afraid to take unpopular, but necessary measures, D66 leader Alexander Pechtold said to BNR on Thursday.

The entire European Commission is visiting the Netherlands today to meet with the Dutch cabinet and parliament. Pechtold expects Prime Minister Mark Rutte to not only play a role behind the scenes, but to also take a firm stand in the spotlight. "and then to show that this is the decade - and certainly the next six months - in which Europe hast to prove itself", he said to the broadcaster. He wants Rutte to show that, as president, he is aware of the problems testing Europe at this time. "The powerlessness of recent years shows an increasing division, through which the confidence in this cooperation and its benefits are increasingly falling away."

He thinks that the Netherlands can give cooperation a boost. "Rutte is not the first to defend Europe in general, but he can show much more what it means not only for prosperity and security, but that there are also matters that in the 21st century can no longer be handled nationally", the D66 leader said, using the influx of asylum seekers and migrants as an example. "However you feel about the problem, cooperation is needed to better monitor the outside borders. But that also means that you ensure that you share more common powers."

"This requires courage and we need to watch out for that perpetual polling populism that more and more politicians - I myself am also sensitive to it - keep a grip on. You see in the short term that you have to take unpopular measures, while you know that they are good for the longer term." Pechtold said to the broadcaster. "This is typically something the Netherlands can take a step in during its presidency to show the people: you see, the European Union not only works, but is very important."