Herb Prooy: Regions rule

Herb Prooy thinks regionalism might be the answer for Europe.

Seven years ago I wrote my first column for the Financieele Dagblad. Then, in 2005, the second cabinet under Balkenende was in power, the PVVwas up and coming, TomTom was floated on the stock exchange, bankers were grabbing money left right and centre and unemployment was low. The Dutch were among the happiest people on the planet.
After the 2006 elections all that changed very quickly. Fear gained the upper hand, fear of change, fear of EU influence, fear of globalisation, fear of Islam. And fear of losing what we think we have a right to.
Both rightwing and leftwing populists have been building on this fear and have taken a stranglehold on national politics which has left the country paralysed. The Netherlands is now one of the weakest economies in Europe.
The September elections will become a referendum on Europe. The causes of our national political fail are looked for beyond the borders.
Rearguard fight
In a historical perspective, it will turn out to have been a rearguard fight. National politics are losing their souvereignty as a consequence of a process that was put in motion sixty years ago and which will lead to further European unity. We owe our prosperity to it.
In order to pass on this prosperity to our children, we will have to say goodbye to our present administrative system of a national governement, provinces and local councils.We have to give primacy to strong economic regions which must have more responsabilities and powers to act than they have at present. It is not for nothing that today’s economic successes in the world are down to strong regional centres and not necessarily countries.
Strong regions
Dividing up the Netherlands into a limited number of powerful regions would be a much more effective stimulus for economic development, growth and workforce training, our living environment and countless other things. A strong region will narrow the huge gap between politics and the people. It will give citizens influence, courage and motivation but above all it will give them the faith in a prosperous future that is so woefully lacking at the moment.
How I wish that my last column may be more than just another opinion..
Herb Prooy is an entrepreneur in the field of ‘software as a service’

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