Auteur: Peter Teffer
Utrecht - The Netherlands might not be the first country where you would look for Europhiles. But they exist, according to a member of the Dutch parliament, Jesse Klaver. And he is calling on all pro-European Dutch citizens to have a "European coming-out" today (9 May).
The GreenLeft politician has written a pamphlet declaring his love for Europe. Klaver, 27, hopes that "all Europeans in the Netherlands" will sign the declaration, which has been published online.
"We are coming out as proud Europeans," the pamphlet reads. "We are proud of Europe as a cultural and historical project. Proud of our women's rights and gay rights, the Eurovision Song Contest and 69 years of peace."
The statement ends with a declaration that 9 May is "Coming Out Day" for all Dutch that are proud of Europe.
May 9 is Europe Day, which marks the speech in which Robert Schuman, then foreign minister of France, proposed a European Coal and Steel Community.
In an interview on a Dutch talk show Thursday night, Klaver explained that he doesn't deny that the EU has its faults. "Sure, there are a lot of things that can be improved in Europe."
But he feels it is now time for a more positive note. "The debate is only about the negative sides and aspects of Europe, but it has brought us so many good things, and we tend to forget that," Klaver said.
The young MP has never hidden his affection for Europe. In an election debate in 2012 in Amsterdam, he defended European integration as a factor that has brought the continent stability and peace.
GreenLeft has four of 150 seats in the Dutch parliament and three seats in the European Parliament. It is doing well in the polls, but nowhere near as well as D66, the other outspokenly pro-European political party in the Netherlands.
Polls in the Netherlands translate support for parties to national parliament seats, and most grant GreenLeft about six. D66 has been polled as the largest party by some polls, sometimes sharing that position with the anti-EU Freedom Party (PVV).
According to the most recent Eurobarometer poll, 58 percent of the respondents from The Netherlands agreed with the statement 'I feel like a citizen of the EU' - although 92 percent feel more Dutch than European. (These percentages are close to the EU average.)
According to the same poll, 31 percent of the respondents from The Netherlands have a positive view of the EU, 32 percent have a negative view and the largest group, 37 percent, have a neutral view.
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