Dutch multinational companies sign pact against populism

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Dutch flag (Photo: Ninane/Wikimedia Commons). Dutch flag (Photo: Ninane/Wikimedia Commons)

A group of Dutch multinational companies signed a pact and started a "broad movement" against "encroaching populism and negativism", two representatives of the movement said to Financieele Dagblad on Saturday. This movement will not only fight negativity, but also boost the Dutch economy, they said.

Companies including Unilever, Ahold, Philips, Shell and FrieslandCampina signed the pact. "Global problems, Dutch solutions" is the central idea behind the movement. The Netherlands has excellent solutions to many of the problems currently facing the world, Jan Zijderveld, president of Unilever Europe, said to the newspaper. According to the companies, there are five areas in which the Netherlands can provide expert solutions: food problems, water management, aging populations, urbanization and the transition to sustainable energy. 

"To counteract populism, we need a new business model, a dot on the horizon that we can work towards in the coming decades", Zijderveld said. Something like the rebuild in the 50's after World War II or in the VOC era, he said. "We want to create a broad movement of people and companies that are again proud of the Netherlands and believe in our ability to solve problems."

Financial journalist Paul Laseur calls the pact "shameless lobbying for Corporate Netherlands" in an opinion piece published by BNR on Monday. According to him, the five areas identified in the pact are all relevant issues. "But especially cash for the Netherlands. And completely for Unilever, Philips and other members of the pact." 

According to Lauseur, Corporate Netherlands completely missed the mark with this pact against negativism. "What from a distance seems like a political manifesto is in fact nothing more than - what advertisers call - a hook for the elections. Large companies have no business in politics. More business opportunities for them does not automatically lead to greater social progress for all of us."

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