Volt wants to convince voters that the solution to many of today’s problems lies with Europe. Laurens Dassen is competing with GroenLinks-PvdA for the pro-European voters who left D66. “Timmermans does not go to the barricades enough for Europe,” Dassen told NU.nl.
The young political party Volt is ‘radical for a united Europe’ in its programme. The party wants a European constitution, extra European taxes and a European dispersal law for asylum seekers. The European flag will also soon fly in The Hague and there will be a European army if it is up to Dassen. Volt also wants to abolish fossil subsidies and the party is making generous proposals for a basic allowance, a debt pardon and extra money for students.
Volt has now been in the House of Representatives for 2.5 years. Voters can therefore also judge your actions. What have you achieved in that time?
“The introduction of free school lunches in vulnerable neighborhoods has been an important proposal of ours at a time when many children go to school on an empty stomach. We have arranged free menstrual products for people on low incomes.”
“We have also made proposals with Pieter Omtzigt for a new administrative culture and with the Christian Union for an expansion of the House of Representatives. We have also co-written an initiative to spend 2 percent of GDP on defense. I am proud, but we still want achieve much more. That is why we are going to ensure that we grow in the House of Representatives. We are aiming for six seats.”
Do you think voters see their votes rewarded with these things? Or do they mainly remember the riot with MP Nilüfer Gündogan, who expelled Volt from the faction after accusations of inappropriate behavior? You appeared in the news with that.
“Well, that’s not the only thing. You’d be doing us a disservice. Those were emotional moments for everyone involved and I’m glad it’s behind us now. I think the polls show that people be positive about the way we do politics. No one expects you to be able to achieve everything.”
You think that the election campaign focuses too little on Europe. You yourselves have far-reaching positions for Europe. Do you think many voters would also want to go that far? Research shows not.
“Maybe not all voters are concerned with Europe, but they do find climate change very important. And so do safety and social security. These are all issues that we must solve together in Europe. It is a big misconception that we can do that in the Netherlands. Isn’t it crazy that they are closing nuclear power plants in Germany and we are going to build them? That is not an efficient climate policy. And Europe is not an end in itself for us, but the means to solve important problems.”
Do this really require a European constitution, European Ministers of Finance and Foreign Affairs and European taxes?
“Yes, they are ultimately necessary for that if you want Europe to function properly. It is not doing well enough at the moment. Not everyone is reaping the benefits of the European Union. It has long been a union for large companies, those countries can play against each other. It must now become a union of Europeans.”
You want EU member states not to compete with each other on tax and labor rules. Furthermore, you propose European taxes and we must also share debts at European level, something that the Netherlands has been against for years. Could it be that the EU will benefit from this, but the Netherlands will come out worse?
“Yes, but you also have to look at the European interest, because that is also the Dutch interest.”
The question is whether that is always the same interest?
“It is often the same. That is exactly why you have to ensure that the European Union as a whole becomes stronger. Because that is what we, as an export country, ultimately benefit the most from. One of the problems is that European successes are now often claimed nationally. And national problems are Brussels’ fault. We have to get rid of that. Don’t forget that the Netherlands has a say in everything that supposedly comes from Brussels. We should not think in terms of: then we have to transfer power to Brussels. It is sometimes true, but That’s because we are better represented there on some topics.”
So it is true, but we should not think that way.
“Sometimes it is best to arrange things in Europe. For example, when you are talking about taxes for multinationals. Then we can make agreements about this much better in Europe so that large multinationals do not play us off against each other.”
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Then something else… When it comes to asylum and migration, Volt wants asylum seekers to be received in a more humane way and you are also proposing a European dispersal law. Your program says nothing about limiting the influx.
“There is only one way to reduce the influx. That is to ensure that people no longer have to leave home and hearth. That is why we are increasing the contribution to development cooperation. It is striking that many parties that want to limit the influx also spend less on development cooperation. Then in my view you are only making the problem worse.”
It is often said that we must enforce the Dublin Treaty to limit the influx. This says that people must apply for asylum in the first EU country they enter. This allows the Netherlands to send back asylum seekers who come to us via other EU member states. You want to get rid of this.
“Yes, because where do people usually arrive? In Italy and Greece. Then those countries would also be responsible for reception. And we don’t think that is fair. That is why we also want a European dispersal law that distributes asylum seekers fairly between member states.”
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In addition to the European plans, several proposals for young people stand out. A higher minimum wage for young people from the age of eighteen, a higher basic grant, 10,000 euros extra compensation for the unlucky generation, abolition of tuition fees for certain studies, a higher internship allowance… Are these gifts for your young, highly educated supporters?
“You call it the unlucky generation…It is not a bad luck generation. It has been a tough policy by parties such as VVD, D66, GroenLinks and PvdA, which ultimately introduced that loan system. Many students have become victims of this. They have larger debts as a result. That was a mistake and we must correct it. And as for the other proposals, we had everything calculated by the CPB. And it shows that it can be done.”
But are you only serving highly educated young people?
“That is not entirely true. We are also giving a national debt pardon to 600,000 people with problematic debts, who are not necessarily young people. They have fallen into debt due to job loss, death, divorce or stupid bad luck. They are therefore stuck and can therefore do not participate in society at all. If we cancel 3 billion euros in debts, this will ultimately yield 17 billion euros in labor productivity and healthcare and collection costs for this group.”
And then you also cancel all surcharges.
“There is no party that goes as far as we do with our fiscal clean-up. People are currently drowning in allowances, tax credits and employer-employee premiums. We will abolish them all. And then we will come up with a basic allowance as a prelude to a basic income. Exactly to ensure that we can also guarantee social security for everyone in the Netherlands.”
But don’t you also compete on social services? That other Europeans think: oh, then I will come and live in the Netherlands for that basic allowance?
“No, I don’t see it that way. People are not going to move to the Netherlands for that. We also want a social union in Europe, for good social security throughout Europe. But we are making these proposals in the Netherlands because the complexity here is total. has gone too far and people do not apply for benefits because they fear they will be labeled as fraudsters.”
Volt is often seen as the even more pro-European alternative to D66. The latter party loses significantly in polls after cabinet participation. It seems that the D66 leavers will not end up with you but with former European Commissioner Timmermans.
“I don’t know exactly where they will end up, but I think with Omtzigt and with us. And also with Timmermans, yes. I of course hope that he is an ally in solving problems through Europe. But at the moment I do not see that he goes to the barricades for this.”
In recent weeks, Timmermans seemed to be looking for cooperation in debates with Omtzigt. The NSC has a much less pro-European programme. What do you think about that?
“Omtzigt wants roughly the opposite of what we want for Europe. We want to get rid of the Member States’ veto for European decisions. Omtzigt wants every national parliament to be able to block a European decision, so that it is de facto no longer possible to have good to make agreements. I am very concerned about that.”
You do want to join a coalition, but only if it is sufficiently pro-European. Suppose you have GroenLinks-PvdA, D66 and you, then you are far from done. What if Timmermans joins forces with the VVD and NSC? Would Volt then participate?
“Then you get a continuation of what we already have. That no clear choices are made. I of course hope for a cabinet that is as progressive, green and European as possible. And if we can contribute to that, we will certainly do so, but not at any cost.”
NU.nl spreekt in aanloop naar 22 november met verschillende lijsttrekkers
- Lees het interview met SP-lijsttrekker Lilian Marijnissen.
- Lees het interview met JA21-lijsttrekker Joost Eerdmans.
- Lees het interview met Partij voor de Dieren-lijsttrekker Esther Ouwehand.
- Lees het interview met NSC-lijsttrekker Pieter Omtzigt.
De komende dagen verschijnen er meer interviews. Abonneer je via de optie hieronder om niets te missen.
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