In his first speech spearheading the Netherlands’ combined list of Socialists (PvdA) and Greens (GroenLinks) parties for the November general elections, former European Commissioner Frans Timmermans warned that we “endanger the survival of our own species” and criticised “apocalyptic stories”.
With a strong mandate from the members of both parties, Timmerman laid out his vision for the country.
“We need to put this country back on the rails,” he said, adding that he wants people to have more trust “in each other, in ourselves and in the government”, which he said was one that has left “too many people behind”.
Timmermans voiced his opinion that people in the Netherlands live in times of “profound societal change”, which makes them “insecure”.
“We are at a time when we can shape that change, adjust where necessary. Once again, we are living in an industrial revolution, and on top of that, we have entered a time when by our own actions we are endangering the survival of our own species,” he stated.
“We don’t have to but can only do so if it [change] is redirected by politics.”
Timmermans stressed the importance of progressive values and said the Netherlands needed to rediscover what he said was its “swag” so it could lead the world again, as it did when it was one of the first countries to accept euthanasia and gay adoption. Now, he wants his country to lead on climate justice.
The former European Union “Green Pope” stressed that, next to the climate, livelihood security was also a major theme and that both are intertwined.
Answering questions from the public, Timmermans said there was significant polarisation in the Netherlands, while people “in the middle” needed to be reached out to more.
Despite his expressed desire for change, he also warned against ecological pessimism. “Don’t be fooled into thinking you all have to live the perfect climate life. Step by step, we can cope.
“Don’t let anyone tell you that there is a difference between climate justice and social justice. They go hand in hand; we must ensure that nobody slips through the cracks,” he said.
Timmermans appealed to the other left-wing parties in the Netherlands but pointed out he wants at least 2 per cent of the country’ GDP to be spent on defence, in line with NATO requirements. Both parties he is now leading have voted against that proposal in the past.
“We have lived off the ‘peace dividend’ for decades, and [Russian President Vladimir] Putin is now reaping the benefits of that,” Timmermans said. “So we have no choice [regarding military spending], for our credibility and for our own defence.”
Among numerous posts on social media, the most important issue seemed to be his generous EU compensation package. Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf reported that he will use his remarkably lavish redundancy pay to further his domestic political ambitions.
Asked about it by a journalist on August 17, Timmermans said: “Starting from tomorrow, I’m unemployed. I will have to bridge that period without work and the EU has an arrangement for that.
“I will use that until I have new employment. I have a family, I need to pay the rent, I have to pay for other things. But I will use it as briefly as possible.”
That led to snappy remarks on Twitter, now X: “Confused man with tons of waiting money wants to survive,” Dutch MP Geert Wilders noted.
The Hague politican Richard de Mos said: “The people Frans Timmermans claims to stand up for with the United Left have barely enough to eat and have to make ends meet every month. Then he arrives, with half a million euros (!) in his back pocket, with climate waffling and woke drivel!”
Journalist Raisa Blommestijn similarly reacted: “‘Socialism’ in practice. Don’t make me laugh. As always: the common people get to bleed, but the elite takes good care of themselves.”