• Dutch Prime Minister: Europe Should Embrace Trump’s Multilateral Criticisms as Opportunity for Reform

    While many European leaders have pushed back against US President Donald J. Trump’s criticism of multilateral organizations such as the United Nations (UN), World Trade Organization (WTO), and even the European Union itself, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte wants his colleagues to look at Trump’s rhetoric as an opportunity. “We have to make use of Trump’s criticism of these organizations to start to improve them. It is a much more constructive [approach],” he advised.

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  • Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte: Stronger Together Than Apart

    Stronger together than apart
    Speech by Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte 

    Atlantic Council

    Washington, DC

    July 18, 2019

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  • Euroscepticism and Populism to Gain in Dutch Representation in the European Parliament

    As is the case elsewhere on the European continent, parties away from the political center are expected to perform quite well in the European parliamentary elections in the Netherlands on May 23. With twenty-six seats in the European Parliament allocated to the Netherlands, polls in recent weeks have suggested that around five will be won by the far-right populist, Eurosceptic Forum voor Democratie (Forum for Democracy or FvD), a party that did not contend in the last European elections in 2014. This is not unusual. Fringe parties tend to perform better in European elections than in the national elections, as seen in the 2012 general elections and subsequent European elections in 2014. A similar cycle could take place this time, as the European elections follow the general elections of 2017.

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  • Far Right Grows in Opposition to Dutch Consensus Politics

    Far-right parties in the Netherlands posted their best result to date in midterm elections on March 20. The Party for Freedom (PVV) and Forum for Democracy took a combined 21 percent of the votes. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s four-party coalition government is projected to lose its majority in the Senate.

    It wasn’t all bad news for Rutte. His liberal People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) still placed second and his government will not, as it feared, be completely dependent on the Greens in the new Senate. It should be able to do deals with the Labor Party and smaller parties on the center-right as well.

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  • Europe’s Liberal Dream Team Looks More Like a Marriage of Convenience

    Europe’s two most prominent liberal leaders are teaming up. French President Emmanuel Macron and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte are expected to form an alliance in next year’s European parliamentary elections. With luck, it will make theirs the second-largest party in the European Parliament, which would give them considerable influence over the selection of the next European Commission president.

    Macron and Rutte are both relatively young (forty and fifty-one, respectively), ambitious (Rutte is believed to covet the European Council presidency, currently held by Donald Tusk), and in favor of reform of the European Union (EU).

    But they differ on what “reform” should mean, which could make theirs an unhappy marriage.

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  • Crucial EU Initiative that Outs Kremlin Lies Under Fire

    A crucial program that identifies Kremlin methods of disinformation has come under attack. Alarmingly, one of the key accusations is that its activities constitute an attempt to restrict freedom of speech. The situation could not be more absurd. 

    The program running into such controversy is the East Stratcom Task Force and the EU vs Disinfo website that the task force runs. Back in March 2015, EU heads of state decided to create the task force, to be run by the European External Action Service, in response to Russian disinformation campaigns.

    Russia’s “information war” had escalated in 2014, with disinformation and virulent propaganda used to justify its annexation of Crimea and military aggression in eastern Ukraine. It was probably the downing of MH17 on July 17, 2014, with the death of 298 passengers, that served as a wake-up call to the West, 

    While establishing the task force in response, however, there was disagreement between the twenty-eight member states, with those nearest to Russia supporting broader measures, while others wanted a narrower scope in order to avoid antagonizing Russia. 

    As a result, the task force has been under-resourced and under-staffed, and it is an enormous credit to its team that they have achieved so much.

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  • Burrows Quoted by the Daily Signal on European Populism and Recent Dutch Election Results

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  • Will Europe’s Far-Right Populists Come Out on Top?

    Europe’s leaders face publics that are skeptical of globalization and multiculturalism, critical of the performance of the European Commission and European Council leadership, angry about the slow pace of economic recovery, and fearful of the inflow of immigrants and terrorism.

    Far-right populist political parties have benefited from this sentiment. These parties are now in an alarmingly strong position as voters head to the polls this year in the Netherlands, France, Germany, and possibly Italy.

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  • Transatlantic Relationship Forecast: Stormy Weather Ahead

    The transatlantic relationship is in for a rough ride over the course of Donald Trump’s presidency simply because there is no “correcting mechanism” among the incoming cabinet to counter the next US president’s rhetoric on the European Union, according to an Atlantic Council analyst.

    In an interview with the Times of London and Germany’s Bild newspaper published on January 15, Trump bashed NATO as “obsolete,” described the European Union (EU) as “basically a vehicle for Germany,” applauded the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the EU, and predicted that more EU member states would follow. The comments rattled the United States’ European allies.

    Trump’s key cabinet picks—secretary of state nominee former ExxonMobil Chief Executive Officer Rex Tillerson and defense secretary nominee retired Gen. James Mattis—broke with the president-elect and spoke favorably of NATO at their confirmation hearings earlier in January. However, the absence of a depth of EU expertise among Trump’s cabinet is striking, said Fran Burwell, a distinguished fellow at the Atlantic Council.

    “They know about NATO or have had experience in NATO, but not regarding the EU. There is no correcting mechanism at the cabinet level that we see so far that would present a counterview to what Trump has said” about the EU, said Burwell.

    “The EU itself is in for a rough ride over the next few years,” she predicted.

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  • Four Swift Blows to Putin’s Influence in Europe

    Moscow retains substantial influence in Europe. However, its ability to leverage that influence against Ukraine appears to be declining, as four decisions over the past two months illustrate.

    Moscow’s intervention in Syria is weakening the Kremlin’s position vis a vis Ukraine in the views of European policymakers. This was evident on October 12 at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), which dealt a major blow against Moscow’s disinformation campaign. The single most important lie in Moscow’s effort to ease sanctions and reduce EU support for Ukraine is that the war in the Donbas is a Ukrainian civil war, rather than a hybrid war that is led, supplied, and financed from Moscow, and involves significant numbers of Russian troops.

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