A couple of days ago I presented to you the Dutch liberal politician Hans van Baalen. Judith Sargentini, the next politician to answer my questions is from the complete opposite side of the political spectrum, the left-wing/environmentalist party GroenLinks. My request made a small detour through the press office, but I must say: the outcome is a list of quite detailed answers and a very long post.
Furthermore, today apparently it’s Judith’s birthday. Now what better gift is there to give than a post on our Community?
1. Name: Judith Sargentini
2. Age: 34 (I will turn 35 the 13th of March)
3. Occupation: Partyleader GroenLinks for the European elections and currently partyleader in Amsterdam.
4. What did you vote in the referendum on a European Constitution?
5. Shortly name 5 advantages of the EU.
-The countries of the EU are no longer at war with each other. Fighting with swords has become fighting with words (‘Vechten is beckvechten geworden’).
-Thanks to European rules our air is (slowly) getting cleaner, we must produce more ‘green’ energy and are all EU-countries making efforts for a worldwide approach towards climate change.
-At the borders there are no barriers anymore and you are allowed to work in every EU-country.
-The EU has a border-crossing parliament to make laws and control the decision-making. This is unique in the world. Outside of Europe they are jealous of our model of peaceful cooperation.
6. Shortly name 5 disadvantages of the EU.
-There are not enough public clashes between European politicians and parties. Consequently, for a lot of citizens it is insufficiently clear what the differences are. Still, it really matters whether you vote left- or right-wing/green or grey.
-European decision-making is slow, very, very slow.
-On some occasions European rules provide insufficient room for national and regional governments to take more far-reaching measures in order to protect humans, animals and the nature.
-European ministers are still allowed to make laws behind closed doors. (If the Lisbon Treaty enters into force this will luckily be over. In this case the European Parliament will also get more power).
-The Euro-banknotes are a little boring.
7. What are you going to do on the 4th of June?
That day you can find me somewhere outside in the Netherlands, because this is the last day for me to convince the Dutch people to vote GroenLinks for the European elections. Of course I will vote too that day. In the evening we will have an election-result evening, and hopefully we will have a reason to party.
8. What do you expect will be the ‘hot issues’ during the EP elections?
I expect that, just like in 2004, the elections will be filled by eurosceptical politicians with slogans such as ‘The Netherlands wants less Brussels’, like the SP. A senseless discussion of course, if you realize that there are so much areas where the Netherlands has to cooperate with the countries surrounding it.
Now that the Partij voor de Vrijheid has decided to run, EU enlargement will also play an important role. Especially because Wilders is against the entry of Turkey. GroenLinks has another view on this. Turkey will have to implement a lot of reforms if the country wants to join the EU. This will take a while. Therefore, the EU should be critical and stimulate the country. Not by slamming the door. Especially not if improper arguments are being used, such as religion. Turkey could become a bridge between the Western and the Islamic world. Not unimportant in a time when cultural and religious contrasts are the breeding ground for hate and violence.
9. What do you personally think the ‘hot issues’ should be?
As far as I’m concerned the European elections are about important topics we cannot deal with as a country on our own, such as the economic crisis, the climate crisis, migration and asylum and honest trade with developing countries.
The first two topics play an important role in our own campaign. We think the climate crisis and the economic crisis should be solved together. Therefore GroenLinks argues for a ‘Green deal’, a new green economy that creates jobs and offers opportunities.
Instead of investing in the old industries, we must stimulate the development of clean cars, make sure houses will be isolated better and that durable energy becomes a better alternative for dirty fuels like coal and oil. As far as we’re concerned, in Europe we will substantially invest in energy coming from the sun and the wind. This will not only benefit the climate, but could also produce millions of jobs.
10. On a scale from 1 to 10, how important is the European Union for you?
I think the European Union is incredibly important and of course I will rate it with a 10. Especially if you realize that the majority of the legislation that has to be executed in the Netherlands comes from Brussels. You could dismiss it as being unimportant and say you want less Brussels, but I think this is utterly ridiculous. In the Netherlands it is especially necessary that we cooperate with other European countries on crucial areas. Especially in this era of cross-border problems. As a politician I would like to ensure that decisions being made in Europe are green and social.
NB. Pease note that the following article is the result of a translating (original language: Dutch) and editing (as little as possible) process by me, the author, of the original e-mails sent.