PM: Europe should adopt Dutch “polder model”
In an exclusive video interview with the English Department of Radio Netherlands Worldwide, Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende announced last week that he will suggest to other European countries that they adopt the Dutch ‘polder model' of government.
He will make the proposal during the European Union summit to be held in Brussels on 18 and 19 June.
Balkenende believes that Europe sorely needs a system similar to the Dutch ‘polder model', whereby employers, trade unions and governmental authorities meet and negotiate until they arrive at a consensus.
The Prime Minister says that this type of system is needed now more than ever since millions of workers in Europe risk losing their jobs and many companies are suffering record losses.
He stresses the importance of employers, workers and local and national governments reaching agreement on salaries, job protection, training schemes and taxation.
The Dutch Prime Minister and German Chancellor Angela Merkel support the introduction of a so-called "Rhine-Delta model" for Europe, which is extremely similar to the Dutch model.
The Prime Minister also spoke of the lack of enthusiasm for the European parliamentary elections scheduled for 4-7 June and the growth of right-wing extremist and populist anti-European parties, such as the United Kingdom Independence Party in Great Britain, the Flemish Lijst Dedecker and Geert Wilders' Freedom Party (PVV) in the Netherlands. All of these parties are scoring well in the opinion polls.
In the interview, the Dutch Prime Minister fiercely criticised Mr Wilders and his supporters: "They exploit people's uncertainties, but do not offer any solutions. They only focus on negative issues. There are, of course, problems such as bureaucracy. However, European unification has brought many benefits. There has been peace and prosperity for decades. And we are about to form a united front to deal with issues such as the environment."
Passion for driving
Prime Minister Balkenende also responded to questions from listeners and visitors to the website of Radio Netherlands Worldwide. He answered questions on a range of topics, from Europe to his passion for driving.
Herman van Gelderen