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Brussels or The Hague: who determines the rules for entrepreneurs?

With the European elections approaching, it is crucial to examine the positions of political parties. The discussion about the extent to which Brussels should impose directives, regulations and decisions is more topical than ever. The central question is whether more European legislation and uniform rules are desirable or whether national autonomy prevails.

Parties such as the VVD (member of Renew Europe) have a clear vision on this issue. List leader Malik Azmani emphasizes the importance of guidelines over legislation. “Guidelines provide the opportunity for national adaptation and flexibility,” Azmani said at a recent meeting. However, he also notes that the implementation of these guidelines can vary widely between Member States. “Some countries implement guidelines strictly as determined by Brussels, while the Netherlands often adds additional regulations.”

The Netherlands is known for its thorough and sometimes excessive compliance with European directives. One of those present during a meeting illustrates this with an anecdote from a Dutch entrepreneur who needed no fewer than 32 certificates for a height-adjustable table. “Within the same Europe, producing the same table in Germany only requires 27 certificates,” he adds. This shows the paradox of Dutch regulations: an effort to reduce administrative burdens often leads to an increase.

A concrete example, according to a member of the Comité Européen de Normalization (CEN), a standardization organization that draws up European standards. The entrepreneur had to obtain many certificates for his product, and failure to comply with all certifications leads to serious consequences. This example emphasizes how uniform European guidelines can degenerate into a tangle of bureaucracy due to national interpretations.

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Malik Azmani
Photo: © Pitane Blue - Malik Azmani (VVD)

Azmani emphasizes that excessive regulation damages the competitive position of Dutch companies. “We need to think about small businesses and not go too far with legislation,” he says. He advocates uniformity in Europe without additional national regulations that unnecessarily burden companies. According to Azmani, less regulation would actually contribute to a stronger competitive position within the EU.

An important point of discussion is the question of guilt in complex regulations. Azmani states that the blame often lies with the Netherlands and not with Brussels. “If something is cross-border, it must be arranged in Brussels, but national additions create unnecessary complexity.” He points out that regulations, which are directly binding, could promote uniformity within the EU without national deviations.

It is good that everyone votes during the European elections. The Netherlands has an important role in the European legislative procedure. The European Parliament and the Councils of Ministers negotiate and influence the proposals of the European Commission. Azmani emphasizes that the Netherlands must actively participate in this process to influence regulations and adapt to national needs without increasing administrative burdens.

The discussion about the role of Brussels in national legislation is complex and multifaceted. The example of the VVD shows that there is a need for a balance between European uniformity and national autonomy. Reducing administrative burdens without losing the essence of directives and regulations remains a challenge. The upcoming European elections will be a crucial moment to find this balance and determine the future of European law.

controversial alliance

The Dutch political scene is currently being shaken by a controversial alliance between the liberal party VVD and Geert Wilders' far-right PVV. This unprecedented cooperation has led to a government agreement that has been negotiated over the past six months following Wilders' election victory. Although he will not be the new Prime Minister, his influence will remain clearly noticeable in the new coalition. In addition to the PVV and VVD, the agreement also includes the pro-agrarian BBB and the new anti-corruption NSC.

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Valerie Hayer
Photo: © Pitane Blue - Valérie Hayer chairman of Renew Europe

Geert Wilders, a polarizing figure in Dutch and European politics, has built his political career on sparking debate about national identity and security. Although he will not hold the position of Prime Minister, his influence remains undeniable in the new cabinet. It is a coalition that many did not expect and that will change the political dynamics in the Netherlands and possibly in Europe.

Valérie Hayer, chair of the liberal Renew Europe group in the European Parliament, has reacted strongly to this development. In an interview with BFMTV-RMC on May 21, she emphasized that the VVD, by collaborating with the PVV, violates the core values ​​of Renew Europe. “It is an unacceptable option because they are not respecting our values ​​by entering into this alliance,” Hayer stated. She made it clear that her group's 'red line' is unwavering: “We have always respected the cordon sanitary against the extreme right. That is an absolute value of our group and I will take responsibility after the elections to ensure that these values ​​continue to be respected.”

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The tension within Renew Europe is palpable. MEPs will hold a meeting to discuss the issue on June 10, a day after the European elections. Hayer emphasizes that this discussion is necessary and in accordance with the group's bylaws. The fate of the VVD within Renew Europe seems to hang by a thread.

Valérie Hayer's response is not surprising given the core values ​​of Renew Europe, which have always advocated an inclusive and liberal society. The question remains how other members of Renew Europe will respond to this development and what steps they will take to protect their values. Hayer has made it clear that she will take responsibility for ensuring that the norms and values ​​of her group are upheld.

The next European elections are on Thursday, June 6. The 2024 European elections are coming and the party leaders of the various parties in the Netherlands and Belgium have been announced. With the increasing political dynamics and growing citizen involvement, these elections promise to be particularly exciting. Let's take a closer look at the main candidates and their parties.

The Netherlands

Bas Eickhout, the current party leader for GroenLinks in collaboration with the Labor Party, has a long history in politics and is known for his commitment to the environment and sustainability. His campaign focuses on promoting green energy and combating climate change, with a strong emphasis on social justice.

Malik Azmani, a prominent figure within the VVD, is at the helm of his party for the European elections. His focus is on economic growth, security and European cooperation. Azmani has a background in international relations and advocates a strong position for the Netherlands within the EU.

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Photo: © Pitane Blue - promo bus Malik Azmani (VVD)

Tom Berendsen represents the CDA and the European People's Party. Berendsen, with his experience in European affairs, emphasizes the need for solidarity and unity within the EU. He strives for sustainable development and a robust agricultural sector.

Ralf Dekker is the party leader for Forum for Democracy, a party that is often critical of the EU. Dekker's campaign revolves around sovereignty and national autonomy, with a skeptical attitude towards further European integration.

Gerben-Jan Gerbrandij heads the list for D66, a party that is strongly pro-European. Gerbrandij advocates more European cooperation, especially in the areas of climate and digitalization. He sees the EU as an essential platform for international cooperation and innovation.

Anja Hazekamp of the Party for the Animals emphasizes animal rights and environmental protection. Her party strives for a sustainable and ethical approach to agriculture and fishing, and Hazekamp also wants to represent these values ​​in European politics.

Adriana Hernández Martínez is the party leader for 50PLUS, a party that focuses on the interests of the elderly. Her campaign covers pension rights, healthcare and social security, with a special focus on the EU's aging population.

Sebastiaan Stöteler is the head of the PVV for these elections. His party is known for its critical positions towards immigration and the EU. Stöteler is committed to national sovereignty and a strict immigration policy.

Michiel Hoogeveen of JA21 emphasizes a realistic and critical approach to the EU. His party advocates less European interference and more national control, especially in the areas of immigration and the economy.

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Kok Chan represents NL PLAN EU, a party that strives for reforms within the EU. His campaign focuses on transparency and democratic innovation, with an emphasis on citizen participation.

Anja Haga is the party leader for the Christian Union. Her party stands for values ​​such as charity, sustainability and social justice. Haga also wants to see these values ​​reflected in European policy.

Bert-Jan Ruissen represents the SGP, a party based on Christian principles. Ruissen advocates traditional values ​​and is critical of further European integration.

Sander Smit is the party leader for the BoerBurgerBeweging (BBB), a party that represents the interests of farmers and rural residents. Smit is committed to fair treatment of agricultural communities within the EU.

Dorien Rookmaker of Meer Directe Democratie advocates a strengthening of direct democracy within the EU. Her party strives for more citizen participation and transparency in European policy.

Gerrie Elfrink is the party leader for the SP, a party that is committed to social equality and justice. Elfrink wants to fight against poverty and inequality within the EU and advocates a Europe of solidarity.

Sent Wierda represents vandeRegio, a party that aims to represent the interests of regional communities. Wierda advocates more regional autonomy and attention to local issues within the EU.

Reinier van Lanschot is the party leader for Volt Nederland, a pan-European party that strives for a federal EU. Van Lanschot emphasizes the need for European cooperation in the areas of climate, digitalization and social rights.

Wybren van Haga heads BVNL, a party that is critical of the EU. Van Haga advocates national sovereignty and a reduction of European powers.

Dirk Gotink represents the New Social Contract (NSC), a party that aims to reform the EU to make it more democratic and transparent. Gotink wants more participation for citizens and less bureaucracy.

Matthijs Pontier is the party leader for the Pirate Party - The Greens. His campaign focuses on digital rights, privacy and environmental protection. Pontier wants an innovative and sustainable course for the EU.


Johan Van Overtveldt of the N-VA is a well-known face in Belgian politics. His party strives for more autonomy for Flanders and a critical approach to the EU.

Wouter Beke represents the CD&V, a party that is committed to Christian values ​​and social justice. Beke advocates a solid and united Europe.

Sara Matthieu is the party leader for Groen, a party that is committed to the environment and sustainability. Matthieu wants ambitious climate measures and a greener economy within the EU.

Sophie in 't Veld from Volt is a fervent supporter of European integration. Her party strives for a federal EU and emphasizes the need for cooperation in the field of human rights and democracy.

Rudi Kennes represents the PVDA, a party that is committed to socialism and equality. Kennes advocates a Europe that puts the interests of workers and the less fortunate first.

Tom Vandendriessche is the party leader for Vlaams Belang, a party that is critical of immigration and the EU. Vandendriessche advocates a strict immigration policy and more autonomy for Flanders.

Hilde Vautmans represents Open Vld, a liberal party that strives for more economic freedom and a strong position for Belgium within the EU.

Bruno Tobback is the party leader for Vooruit, a party that focuses on social democracy and justice. Tobback advocates a solidarity-based and social Europe.

Marta Barandiy of Voor U is a newcomer in Belgian politics. Her party focuses on inclusivity and civil rights within the EU.

Fabrice Van Dorpe represents DéFI, a party committed to the rights of French speakers in Belgium. Van Dorpe advocates a fair and inclusive Europe.

Denis Verstraeten of Anticapitalistes strives for a radically different economic system within the EU. His party advocates an end to capitalism and a focus on social justice.

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