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In a sharp statement, politician Bart Groothuis (VVD) denounced the recent decisions of public transport companies, such as De Lijn, to place orders with the Chinese bus builder BYD.

Groothuis, known for his critical view of international trade relations and security policy, emphasizes the need for targeted action against what he considers unfair competition and potential threats to national security and intellectual property rights.

procurement policy

Groothuis, active in identifying inequalities in international trade practices, points out the discrepancy between the treatment of different countries within European procurement policy. He finds it problematic that European legislation is not specifically aimed at countries such as China, which, according to him, uses a completely different approach than, for example, European countries. The politician criticizes the generic approach of the current legislation, which does not distinguish between countries with different intentions and practices.

Groothuis's concerns further extend to the security risks associated with the involvement of Chinese companies in European infrastructure. He emphasizes that China, along with several other countries such as Russia, Iran, and North Korea, maintains active espionage programs and attempts to steal intellectual property. According to him, this requires a more specific approach than the current general legislation offers.

Groothuis' arguments also touch on the broader discussion about the balance between trade interests and national security. The politician points to the significant trade relations between European countries and China, such as German exports amounting to 96 billion euros annually, as a possible explanation for the reluctance to take strict measures against China. He suggests that economic interests sometimes trump security concerns, leading to policies that are ineffective in protecting against the unique challenges posed by some countries.

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Bart Groothuis
Photo: © Pitane Blue - Bart Groothuis (VVD)

Unlike many of his colleagues in Brussels, who often have a background as Prime Minister, Minister or State Secretary, especially from Eastern European countries, Groothuis emphasizes that the Netherlands has a different approach to its representation in Europe. "In the Netherlands we have a completely different tradition of dealing with Europe. Here they send someone like me," he jokes during a meeting in Brussels with a delegation from Eindhoven Brainport.

Europe stands at a crucial crossroads where the continent's future prosperity increasingly depends on the capacity to maintain and develop its industries. This is the firm belief of Bart Groothuis, member of the VVD, who, with his extensive experience in both Brussels and Strasbourg, understands the nuances of European politics and knows how to deftly navigate Dutch interests through the complex landscape of European institutions.

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cyber security

Groothuis, with a background that makes him uniquely suited to assess the continent's digital and industrial challenges, emphasizes the essential role that cybersecurity plays in protecting European prosperity. His insights are based not only on theoretical knowledge, but also on the reality of the current threat landscape plaguing Europe and its vital infrastructure.

The European Union, with its rich history of facilitating trade, cultural exchange, and political cooperation, now faces an unprecedented challenge: protecting its critical infrastructure from cyber attacks. These digital threats, often invisible to the naked eye, have the potential to seriously disrupt the physical world we live in. Groothuis emphasizes that despite significant efforts in cybersecurity, especially within the IT sector, the protection of operational systems – such as energy, gas, electricity, and water – is still vulnerable.

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Bart Groothuis (VVD)
Photo: © Pitane Blue - Bart Groothuis (VVD)

The dynamics between national politics and European decision-making remains an intriguing topic of discussion in the political arena of the Netherlands. A striking illustration of this is a statement that recently made the rounds in the corridors of the Binnenhof: "There is an iron political law in The Hague, and it is called... Everything that goes right, The Hague does. Everything that goes wrong, does Brussels."

When asked for a figure to assess the current state of cybersecurity in Europe, Groothuis gives a cautious 6,5. This figure reflects a situation where significant progress has been made, but it is also recognized that there is still a long way to go. “There is a lot of buzz about cybersecurity,” he explains, “particularly in the field of IT, but our actual life systems… they are also seriously threatened by cybercriminology.”

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Bart Groothuis, a former student of history and economics with a strong passion for computers and technology, has emerged as a major player on the European political scene, especially in the areas of cybersecurity, digital transformation, defense, geopolitics, and technology. His love for computers is not something of recent times; it goes back to his college years. “I did the computers in my student house myself. I built networks. I worked in a computer store. I've done nothing but computers all my life. That's a love for computers. But that does not mean that you understand computers, that you are automatically a good politician,” Groothuis reflects on his unique path to politics.

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Berlaymont Brussels
Photo: © Pitane Blue - Berlaymont Brussels
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